Login/Logout

*
*  

"I greatly appreciate your very swift response, and your organization's work in general. It's a terrific source of authoritative information."

– Lisa Beyer
Bloomberg News
August 27, 2018
Press Releases

Putin Boasts About Russian Military Capabilities

Tests Show Both Strengths and Weaknesses

Wade Boese

In February, Russia concluded what it touted as its most extensive military exercises in two decades, revealing both the current weaknesses and the remaining strengths of Russia’s missile arsenal.

Russian President Vladimir Putin personally witnessed the low and high points. On Feb. 17, Putin watched as a Russian submarine reportedly failed to properly launch two ballistic missiles, although some Russian officials later contended that they were only supposed to be simulations. Another submarine ballistic missile launch went awry the next day. Also on Feb. 18, however, Putin was able to announce the successful launch of a strategic ballistic missile carrying what he described as a “new weapons system.”

Russia possesses “combat-ready armed forces, and this includes the nuclear forces,” Putin said in an English-language transcript supplied by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In his statement, Putin emphasized that the recent exercises cleared the way for adding to the Russian arsenal “new hypersound-speed, high-precision…weapons systems that can hit targets at intercontinental distance and can adjust their altitude and course as they travel.” He implied that such weapons would be ideal for penetrating potential missile defense systems.

Neither Putin nor other top Kremlin officials have shed further light on what the new weapons system is. Most speculation centers on the development of a warhead for a long-range missile that can maneuver after separating from its booster instead of following a ballistic trajectory through space and back to Earth. A warhead that could alter its trajectory would present a much harder target for a missile defense system to hit than a warhead that followed a predictable path.

Why Russia would need to develop such a sophisticated warhead remains unclear because it currently deploys more than 4,600 strategic warheads on more than 1,000 land- and submarine-based ballistic missiles that could simply overwhelm any missile defense system comprised of a lesser number of interceptors.

Although he contended that Russian arms modernization plans were “not in any way directed at the United States,” Putin also said, “[A]s other countries increase the number and quality of their arms and military potential, then Russia will also need to ensure it has new-generation arms and technology.” Washington is currently seeking to deploy the initial elements of a rudimentary multilayered missile defense system this fall and is also exploring new nuclear-weapon designs for new missions, such as destroying deeply buried enemy bunkers.

Still, the earlier submarine missile launch failures detracted from Putin’s upbeat theme. While Russian military officials and press reports went back and forth on whether the tests actually fizzled, Putin confirmed that everything did not go as planned. “Of course, there were pluses and minuses during the course of these exercises,” the president stated.

Putin further pointedly admitted that Russia’s military budget remains pinched. He dismissed the prospect of Russia trying to match U.S. missile defense work, saying, “We think that the time has not come to invest big money in such a project yet. We do not have this money to spare.”

Yet, he indicated that Russia would be keeping an eye on the U.S. effort. “We shall see how work moves ahead in other countries,” Putin said.

Putin is currently campaigning for re-election in March and has been running, in part, on a record of restoring Moscow’s military strength after its dramatic collapse following the end of the Cold War. His re-election is viewed by almost all observers as a certainty.

 

 

 

 

 

In February, Russia concluded what it touted as its most extensive military exercises in two decades, revealing both the current weaknesses and the remaining strengths of Russia’s missile arsenal...

Russia, NATO at Loggerheads Over Military Bases

Wade Boese

Reviving memories of their bitter Cold War rivalry, NATO and Russia are engaging in increasingly sharp exchanges over each other’s military deployments and basing plans.

Speaking Feb. 7 at a two-day security conference in Munich, Germany, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov warned that the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty was fast becoming obsolete and that it could end up scrapped. In doing so, he drew a pointed comparison to the June 2002 U.S. withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The CFE Treaty limits how much heavy weaponry, such as tanks, that 30 countries—including Russia and the United States—can deploy in Europe.

The 30 CFE states-parties negotiated an adapted version of the treaty in November 1999 to reflect the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the expansion of NATO, but it has yet to enter into force. Washington and other NATO capitals are refusing to ratify the revised agreement until Russia fulfills pledges to withdraw its armed forces from the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Moldova.

In conjunction with the adaptation of the CFE Treaty, Russia committed to withdraw all of its military troops and equipment out of Moldova by the end of 2002, close two out of four of its military bases in Georgia by the end of 2000, and reach a timetable with Georgia during 2000 for closure of the two remaining bases. Russia has not completed any of these tasks.

Ivanov charged that the status of Russia’s withdrawal from the two states does not have “the slightest relationship” to the adapted CFE Treaty.

Moscow is eager to bring the revised treaty into force because the older version does not limit how many arms NATO can deploy on the territories of four of the seven additional states scheduled to join the 19-member alliance by May. Specifically, the original treaty does not cover Slovenia and the three Baltic states—Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The Kremlin claims that NATO could then legally deploy limitless stockpiles of weaponry on Russia’s border.

If these four states join NATO before the adapted CFE Treaty enters into force, Ivanov said the original treaty limits would be “imperfect, rather ineffective, and removed from reality.”

Ivanov implied that the addition of the new NATO members could lead to a reversal of Russian force reductions in its northwestern region and in the Kaliningrad enclave, which sits between Poland and Lithuania.

Ivanov also questioned U.S. and alliance proposals to begin breaking up their large military bases into smaller deployments closer to Russia’s border. The defense minister said he understood the need for bases in Bulgaria and Romania as a launching point to counter terrorism but rhetorically asked why such bases were necessary in Poland and the three Baltic states.

In a move designed to ease Russian concerns about NATO expansion to the east, NATO and Russia concluded an agreement in May 1997, the NATO-Russian Founding Act, in which the alliance pledged that its growth would not lead to “additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces” on the territories of new members. The act was not legally binding.

“I would like to remind the representatives of [NATO] that with its expansion they are beginning to operate in the zone of vitally important interests of our country and ought to strive actually, not just in words, to consider our concerns,” Ivanov declared. He suggested one way to address Russian concerns is for NATO to permit the permanent stationing of Russian monitoring personnel at any new NATO bases. Moscow already has rights to inspect NATO bases periodically.

Ivanov ended his speech with a flourish, accusing U.S. and NATO military forces in Afghanistan of being complicit in that state’s illegal drug trade, which was threatening Russia. “I understand that, by allowing the drug business in Afghanistan, [NATO] gets the loyalty of field commanders and individual leaders of Afghanistan,” he stated.

NATO, particularly the United States, is pushing Russia to remove its military forces from Georgia and Moldova. During a late January trip to Georgia and Russia, Secretary of State Colin Powell repeatedly called on Moscow to fulfill its withdrawal commitments.

The Kremlin had contended it would take at least 11 years to pull its troops and arms out of Georgia, but Russian officials are now suggesting that it might be possible within a five-to-seven-year period if it receives financial assistance. Powell said the United States would contribute to such an effort, but that Russian estimates of hundreds of millions of dollars are unreasonable. Georgia has consistently called for a three-year process.

Russia has made fitful progress in withdrawing from Moldova and estimates are that it only has several months worth of work remaining. However, such projections are optimistically based on the withdrawal not being interrupted. The withdrawal is currently suspended.

Moscow pleads that it is not responsible for the irregular implementation. Instead, it blames Moldavian separatists who control the region where Russian forces are located for blocking the withdrawal. The separatists are demanding compensation for the Russian departure.

 

 

 

 

 

Reviving memories of their bitter Cold War rivalry, NATO and Russia are engaging in increasingly sharp exchanges over each other’s military deployments and basing plans.

India Buys Russian Aircraft Carrier

Wade Boese

India finally sealed a deal Jan. 20 for a Russian aircraft carrier after more than a decade of haggling. The estimated $1.5 billion contract signed by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes calls on Russia to refurbish the Soviet-era Admiral Gorshkov within five years and transfer it to India. Moscow will also provide a reported complement of between 12 to 16 MiG-29K fighter jets for the carrier, as well as some helicopters. The two defense ministers did not finalize agreements on other Russian weapons that New Delhi is reportedly interested in, such as the Tu-22 Backfire bomber and Akula-class nuclear submarine.

 

 

 

 

 

India finally sealed a deal Jan. 20 for a Russian aircraft carrier after more than a decade of haggling. The estimated $1.5 billion contract signed by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and...

Six Nations Square Off Over North Korea

Seoul Advances Proposal

Paul Kerr

The second round of six-party talks designed to resolve the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula began Feb. 25 in Beijing with some early signs that they might yield progress. The nations involved are the United States, North Korea, China, South Korea, Japan and Russia.

There was little initial indication that the United States and North Korea had altered significantly their previous stances, but Agence France Presse reported Feb. 26 that South Korea’s Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Soo-hyuck issued a proposal at the talks to provide energy assistance to North Korea if Pyongyang froze its nuclear program. Lee said that China and Russia expressed “their willingness to join” the proposal, adding that Washington indicated “support” for it.

The current crisis began in October 2002, when the United States announced that North Korea admitted to having a covert uranium enrichment program. The following month, the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), which includes the United States, South Korea, Japan, and the European Union, cut off fuel oil shipments promised under the 1994 Agreed Framework. Under that agreement, North Korea agreed to freezes its graphite-moderated reactor and related facilities, as well as spent fuel from the reactor, and place them under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitoring to dispel concerns that it was reprocessing spent fuel for weapons. In return, the United States established KEDO as an international consortium to provide heavy fuel oil and two proliferation-resistant nuclear reactors to North Korea.

Since then, the standoff between Washington and Pyongyang has escalated. In response to KEDO’s decision, North Korea ejected the IAEA inspectors in December 2002 and restarted its nuclear reactor shortly thereafter. North Korea has said it has reprocessed all the spent fuel from its graphite reactor to extract plutonium and implied that it is using the material to construct nuclear weapons. It is unclear whether this is true.

In the meantime, the United States and North Korea held two previous rounds of talks in Beijing to ease the crisis: a trilateral discussion with China last April and the first round of six-party talks last August. The talks achieved no significant breakthroughs, although all participants expressed optimism that a diplomatic solution to the crisis could be reached (See ACT, October 2003 and May 2003.)

A Possible Compromise

According to a Feb. 24 Xinhua News Agency report, Lee told reporters that the South Korean proposal consists of three phases. In the first, North Korea would state “its willingness to dismantle its nuclear program” and the United States would state “its readiness to provide security guarantees.” Then “North Korea would take the first step towards [sic] dismantling its programs by freezing its nuclear activities.” North Korea would receive “energy aid and other rewards” once inspectors have verified the freeze. South Korean Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun elaborated Feb. 26, saying that North Korea has to present “a definite timetable from a freeze to the complete dismantlement” in order to receive energy assistance.

The third phase of the proposal would see the verified “complete dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear facilities…and all other related issues resolved,” reportedly including a written security guarantee.

How the main adversaries in the dispute—Washington and Pyongyang—will react is unclear, although there were indications that both sides would be flexible. A senior U.S. official told reporters Feb. 19 that the United States might be able to accept a freeze of North Korea’s nuclear facilities as a “first step” toward resolving the dispute. Furthermore, Department of State spokesperson Adam Ereli suggested Feb. 20 that the United States would not oppose other countries offering energy assistance to North Korea.

As for North Korea, Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Gye-gwan said in an opening statement that Pyongyang would be “flexible,” according to China’s official Xinhua News Agency. Additionally, a North Korean official told reporters Feb. 26 that Pyongyang offered during the talks to abandon its “nuclear weapons plan while the U.S. is taking a corresponding measure.” He did not specify what that measure would be.

North Korea’s very presence at the talks represented a compromise on its part. Pyongyang had said that resuming the talks depended on the other parties’ willingness to agree to a “first phase” of a larger North Korean proposal (See ACT, January/February 2004). It is unclear why Pyongyang changed its stance.

Lee also stated that Japan signaled support for South Korea’s proposal, but whether Japan will ultimately agree is uncertain. A Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Feb. 13 that Tokyo will not give economic assistance to Pyongyang until the two governments have normalized diplomatic relations—a process that must include resolution of the nuclear issue and North Korea’s abductions of Japanese citizens, he said. The same spokesman said Feb. 24, however, that Japan wishes to build on recent bilateral discussions on the matter by having similar meetings at the Beijing talks.

Washington vs. Pyongyang

The crux of the disagreement between the two sides continues to be mainly one of timing. The United States is resistant to “reward” North Korea for pursuing a nuclear weapons program in violation of its previous commitments and North Korea fears that the United States will pocket any concessions.

Agence France Presse reported that North Korea’s recent offer to get rid of its nuclear weapons also came with a demand that the United States change its “hostile policy.” This is consistent with past North Korean demands for the United States to normalize bilateral diplomatic relations, refrain from hindering North Korea’s “economic cooperation” with other countries, increase food aid, and issue an assurance that it will not attack North Korea. Additionally, Pyongyang has demanded that Washington complete the suspended reactor project and resume fuel oil shipments that were part of the Agreed Framework. (See ACT, October 2003).

A Feb. 23 statement from the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reiterated North Korea’s “first-stage” proposal—first articulated in December—that the United States remove it from the U.S. list of states sponsoring terrorism, lift “political, economic, and military sanctions,” and provide energy assistance. In return, Pyongyang would freeze its “nuclear facilities,” the statement said. KCNA provided more detail about the freeze Jan. 6, stating that North Korea would not test or produce nuclear weapons and would stop operating its “nuclear power industry.”

On Feb. 24, North Korea suggested flexibility on its “first phase actions.” According to the Xinhua News Agency, a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson repeated North Korea’s offer of a nuclear freeze, but did not specify the sort of “compensation” it wanted in return.

For its part, the senior U.S. administration official downplayed expectations for the talks, describing the meeting as a “step in a process.” The official added that Washington wants Pyongyang to make a “fundamental choice” to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons, but would not specify how North Korea should demonstrate that it has done so. The official also reiterated the administration’s position that it is “not looking to bargain on this arrangement.”

The U.S. official added that the U.S. delegation would provide more details during the talks about the “kind of elements that….would go into a security assurance.” The official also stated that the delegation expected to have direct talks with their North Korean counterparts, but added that they would not engage in “direct bilateral negotiations.” Whether to have such talks has been a sticking point between the two sides for some time. A compromise was struck when both sides met bilaterally during the August talks. (See ACT, September 2003.)

The opening statement from the leader of the U.S. delegation contained no surprises. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly stated that the United States seeks the “complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement” of both North Korean nuclear programs. He also repeated Washington’s offer of a written, multilateral security agreement in the “context” of Pyongyang’s compliance. Kelly did not specify the steps the United States wants North Korea to take before receiving a security assurance, although the U.S. official reiterated the administration’s position that the dismantlement of Pyongyang’s nuclear program does not need to be complete before the United States will act.

In contrast to North Korea, the United States has never issued a detailed proposal for resolving the dispute and Kelly said only that “resolution of the nuclear issue will facilitate resolution of important bilateral issues among the parties and this open up the prospect of fully normalized relations among all of the six parties.”

On Feb. 19, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton mentioned “the possibility of a completely new relationship” between the two countries, but did not elaborate. He said the United States also wants to discuss issues such as North Korea’s human rights record, conventional forces, and suspected chemical and biological weapons programs. Other U.S. officials have made similar vague statements in the past.

Going into the talks, U.S. officials suggested that a possible sticking point could be North Korea’s uranium enrichment program. At the last round of talks, North Korea denied having such a program, and the country has dismissed reports that a network run by a Pakistani official supplied North Korea with uranium enrichment technology. Bolton implied that North Korea’s continued refusal to admit to having such a program during the February talks could jeopardize future discussions. The other senior official indicated that would not be the case, however.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second round of six-party talks designed to resolve the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula began Feb. 25 in Beijing with some early signs that they might yield progress...

China Seeks to Join Nuclear, Missile Control Groups

Paul Kerr and Wade Boese

Building on recent efforts to demonstrate its nonproliferation credentials, China is seeking to join two voluntary multilateral export control regimes that seek to limit the spread of nuclear and missile-related technologies. China formally applied to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) Jan. 26, and began talks exploring possible membership in the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) Feb. 10.

The 40-member NSG is comprised of nuclear supplier states that have agreed to coordinate their export controls governing transfers of civilian nuclear material and technology to prevent nuclear exports intended for commercial and peaceful purposes from being used to make nuclear weapons. The 33-member MTCR is an export control regime that aims to limit the spread of ballistic and cruise missiles.

During his term as the rotating chairman of MTCR from September 2002 to September 2003, Polish Ambassador Mariusz Handzlik invited Beijing to participate in the regime. According to a Feb. 12 statement made by Chinese Ambassador for Disarmament Affairs Hu Xiaodi at the UN Conference on Disarmament, China sent a letter to the MTCR chairman last September indicating it was “ready to positively consider applying for joining the MTCR.”

In Washington Feb. 4, Handzlik said that three rounds of talks are scheduled this year between China and MTCR to clear up “old differences” and to evaluate Chinese export controls to see if they conform with MTCR standards. All current regime members would need to approve of China’s accession to the regime.

U.S. and foreign government officials say future Chinese membership is not preordained. An official from the Department of State said Feb. 6 that Beijing “has ongoing problems of enforcement and implementation of missile export controls,” and a European diplomat remarked the same day that “there are still questions.” However, Handzlik stated there is “good will on both sides” and that the “process has begun.”


Under U.S. urging, China has gradually moved over the past several years to bring its national export controls into line with those of MTCR members. In November 2000, Beijing declared that it would not assist other states in acquiring missiles capable of delivering a nuclear warhead. That pledge was defined as applying to missiles capable of delivering a 500-kilogram payload 300 kilometers or more—the same formulation that appears in MTCR guidelines. Then, in August 2002, China published a list of missile-related and dual-use goods that required government approval before being exported.

A Chinese “White Paper” issued last December devoted most of its space to a detailed description of China’s export controls, emphasizing their consistency with international norms. (See ACT, January/February 2004.) The paper pointed out that China maintains “control lists” of nuclear proliferation-sensitive exports that are similar to equivalent NSG lists. It also noted that China issued new export regulations for chemical and biological materials and equipment in October 2002.

China further signaled its willingness to cooperate with the United States by signing a Statement of Intent Jan.12 that “establishes a process for cooperation” between the U.S. Department of Energy and the China Atomic Energy Authority “on a range of nuclear nonproliferation and security activities,” according to an Energy Department press release. These activities include “efforts to strengthen export controls [and] international nuclear safeguards,” the department said.

State Department spokesperson Richard Boucher said Feb. 17 that “we have seen progress by China” on proliferation issues and that China is “very interested in the Proliferation Security Initiative” (PSI). The PSI is a U.S.-led multilateral effort to interdict shipments of weapons of mass destruction and related materials. Beijing, however, offers a much less sanguine view of PSI in its statements.

State Department officials told Arms Control Today that Washington views China’s application to the NSG as a positive step but that the United States remains concerned about Chinese proliferation activity.

A November CIA report acknowledged improvement in China’s nonproliferation policies but noted possible Chinese cooperation with other states on their nuclear, chemical, and missile programs. Additionally, Assistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance Paula DeSutter told Congress in July 2003 that China is failing to enforce its export control laws properly and implied that China sometimes deliberately allows sensitive technology transfers to occur. The Bush administration has imposed sanctions on Chinese firms multiple times for illicit technology transfers. (See ACT, September 2003.)

When asked about press reports that Libya had acquired from Pakistan nuclear weapons designs of Chinese origin, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson expressed concern and said Beijing would investigate the matter, Reuters reported Feb. 17.

 

 

 

 

 

Building on recent efforts to demonstrate its nonproliferation credentials, China is seeking to join two voluntary multilateral export control regimes that seek to limit...

Proliferation Security Initiative Advances

But Russia and China Keep Their Distance

Wade Boese

A U.S.-led coalition to interdict shipments of deadly arms around the globe scored a couple of firsts in February. The 11 original participants added three more states to their roster, and the United States concluded an agreement giving it the right to board ships flying the flag of Liberia, which accounts for the second-largest number of vessels on the high seas. Yet, China and Russia have defied U.S. entreaties to join in the effort, dubbed the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI).

President George W. Bush revealed the first expansion of the initiative in a Feb. 11 speech at the National Defense University, in which he outlined U.S. proposals to stop proliferation. “Three more governments—Canada and Singapore and Norway—will be participating in [PSI],” the president said. All three states, as well as Denmark and Turkey, attended a Washington-hosted PSI meeting in December. Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom have been involved since Bush’s launch of the initiative last May.

Bush said more states would be formally enlisted. Some 60 governments have endorsed the initiative’s principles, according to U.S. officials.

The three new participants will join in PSI activities to detect and interdict shipments of missiles and chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons and related technologies at sea, in the air, and on land. Various governments have intercepted weapons shipments in the past, but PSI is aimed at better coordinating these national efforts.

Although PSI participants are in the middle of a series of ten public training exercises, they have been discreet about actual operations. However, after Libya renounced its weapons of mass destruction ambitions and programs last December, U.S. officials disclosed that PSI participants successfully had seized a shipment of centrifuge components destined for Libya just two months earlier. (See ACT, January/February 2004.)

While successful, the interdiction also underscored PSI’s limitations. Because the ship carrying the centrifuges was German-owned, Berlin was able to ask the shipping company to take its cargo to an Italian port to be voluntarily inspected.

If the ship had been registered to a non-PSI participant or an uncooperative government and did not pass through the waters of PSI participants, the opportunity to board the ship legally may not have arisen.

To board a ship in international waters, permission must be received from the government whose flag the ship is flying unless it violates some maritime rule, such as displaying improper registration or identification information.

Such constraints lent significance to the Feb. 11 signing of a boarding agreement with Liberia. The deal sets out the intentions of Liberia and the United States to allow their vessels suspected of transporting dangerous arms to be stopped and searched by the other’s military and law enforcement agencies.

Under the agreement, boarding permission will be sought on a case-by-case basis, but if a specific request is not responded to within a two-hour period, it will be treated as consent to act. Approximately 1,500 oceangoing ships are registered to Liberia—second only to Panama’s nearly 5,000.

A Department of State spokesman said Feb. 18 that the United States has approached up to 10 additional states, including Panama, about concluding similar boarding agreements.

Washington is also seeking to persuade Moscow and Beijing to become more actively engaged with PSI, but both capitals are hesitant. They have cited concerns about the legality and practicality of intercepting cargo in transit.

Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton traveled to Russia at the end of January to sell the Kremlin on PSI but came away empty-handed. Russian officials reportedly are continuing to study the initiative.

China appears less receptive, if not more oblique. In a Feb. 12 press conference, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue responded to a question about PSI by stating, “We believe that the issue of proliferation shall be resolved through political and diplomatic means within the framework of international laws, and all nonproliferation measures shall contribute to peace, security, and stability in the region and the world at large.”


 

 

 

 

 

A U.S.-led coalition to interdict shipments of deadly arms around the globe scored a couple of firsts in February. The 11 original participants added three more states to their roster, and the United States concluded an...

Questions Over Iraq Intel Continue to Plague Blair

Dan Koik

British Prime Minister Tony Blair faces growing criticism over his decision to go to war in Iraq, despite being cleared by Lord Brian Hutton Jan. 28 of any wrongdoing in the events leading to the suicide of British weapons inspector David Kelly last year. Hutton, the law lord tasked with investigating Kelly’s death, concluded that the Blair government had not acted in a “dishonourable, underhand, or duplicitous” manner and that there was no conspiracy to “sex up” the dossier documenting Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD). (See ACT, October 2003 and September 2003.)

Instead, Hutton focused his recriminations on the BBC and its reporter, Andrew Gilligan, who first made the accusation that the government had knowingly made a false claim that Iraq was prepared to use weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes. Hutton concluded that Gillian’s reports were “unfounded” and criticized the BBC editorial process for allowing the accusations to be aired and for defending the reporter during the ensuing public row with the prime minister’s office.

The report threw the BBC into turmoil and appeared to provide a needed boost to Blair’s weakening political position. The day after the report was released, BBC Chairman Gavyn Davies resigned; Gilligan and Director General Gregg Dyke followed shortly thereafter. Blair demanded and received an apology from the BBC.

Rather than producing a political clean slate for Blair, however, the Hutton Report has provoked a backlash by political opponents and much of the British public. Many believe that Hutton was unfairly biased in favor of the government and placed too much blame on the BBC. Critics are also unhappy that Hutton did not address the larger question of whether the British government overstated the case against Iraq. Polls show Blair’s reputation deteriorating. The Independent newspaper reported Feb. 7 that 51 percent of those questioned believed Blair should resign and 54 percent thought Blair exaggerated the prewar threat from Iraq.

Following former U.S. weapons inspector David Kay’s admission that intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was wrong, Blair tasked ex-Cabinet Secretary Lord Robin Butler to lead a committee examining the quality of prewar intelligence. However, political opponents immediately criticized the structure and independence of the inquiry. Charles Kennedy, leader of the opposition Liberal Democrat party, refused to participate, arguing that the inquiry’s focus is too narrow. Others say that Butler, who has directly served five prime ministers, is too much of an insider. As stated by The Guardian newspaper, “He consistently showed deference to those in power.”

Blair’s troubles were compounded by his statement before a raucous session of Parliament Feb. 4, when he stated he did not know that the “45 minutes” claim referred only to battlefield munitions. Robin Cook, the former House of Commons leader who resigned in protest over the war, expressed skepticism over Blair’s statement, saying that he himself had been aware of the distinction at the time and he doubted Blair had not been informed. In later testimony before Parliament, Defense Secretary Geoffrey Hoon said that the 45 minutes claim had not been an issue in discussions about Iraq before the war.

Michael Howard, leader of the opposition Conservative Party, called on Blair to resign, saying he had failed to ask fundamental questions about Iraq’s weapons capabilities before deciding to go to war.

 

 

 

 

 

 

British Prime Minister Tony Blair faces growing criticism over his decision to go to war in Iraq, despite being cleared by Lord Brian Hutton Jan. 28 of any wrongdoing in the events leading...

Contrasting Views on Iraq's WMD

Paul Kerr

This material is adapted from the public version of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq’s WMD Capabilities; CIA Director George Tenet’s Feb. 5 speech at Georgetown University; March 2003 and December 2003 reports from the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission; a March report from the IAEA; congressional testimony from former Iraq Survey Group adviser David Kay; and a Feb. 13 interview Kay gave to the Associated Press.

The Intelligence Community: October 2002

Chemical
Iraq has begun renewed production of chemical warfare agents, probably including mustard, sarin, cyclosarin, and VX. Iraq probably has stocked a few hundred metric tons of chemical weapons agents.

Biological
All key aspects of Iraq’s offensive biological weapons program are active and most elements are larger and more advanced than they were before the Persian Gulf War.

Iraq has some lethal and incapacitating biological weapons agents and is capable of quickly producing and weaponizing a variety of such agents, including anthrax.

Baghdad has established a large-scale, redundant, and concealed biological weapons agent production capability, which includes mobile facilities.

Nuclear
Most analysts assess Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. If Baghdad acquires sufficient weapons-grade fissile material from abroad, it could make a nuclear weapon within a year. Without such material from abroad, Iraq probably would not be able to make a weapon until the last half of the decade.

Iraq’s aggressive attempts to obtain proscribed high-strength aluminum tubes are of significant concern. All intelligence experts agree that Iraq is seeking nuclear weapons and that these tubes could be used in a gas centrifuge enrichment program. Such programs can produce fissile material for use in nuclear weapons. Most intelligence specialists assess this to be the intended use, but some believe that these tubes are probably intended for conventional weapons programs.

Delivery Systems
Iraq maintains a small missile force and several development programs, including for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) that is probably intended to deliver biological warfare agents.

Gaps in Iraqi accounting to UN inspectors during the 1990s suggest that Saddam retains a covert force of up to a few dozen SCUD-variant Short Range Ballistic Missiles (SRBMs) with ranges of 650 to 900 km.

Iraq is deploying its new al-Samoud and Ababil-100 SRBMs, capable of flying beyond the UN-authorized 150-km range limit.

Iraq is developing medium-range ballistic missile capabilities.

UN Inspectors: March 2003

Chemical
Inspectors found no proscribed activities, or the result of such activities.

Biological
Inspectors found no proscribed activities, or the result of such activities. UN inspectors discovered no mobile facilities for producing weapons.

Nuclear
UN inspectors found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq.They found no indication of resumed nuclear activities in new or reconstructed Iraqi buildings, or any indication of nuclear-related prohibited activities at any inspected sites. The UN found no indication that Iraq attempted to import aluminum tubes for use in centrifuge enrichment.

Delivery Systems
UN weapons inspectors ordered Iraq to destroy its al Samoud missiles because their design was inherently capable of ranges greater than UN-permitted ranges. Baghdad was in the process of doing so when the invasion began. There was no evidence that Iraq was actually modifying the missiles to achieve a prohibited range. UN inspectors had not yet decided if the al-Fatah missiles, the most recent version of the Ababil, exceeded permitted ranges and they were still investigating Iraq’s UAV program as of the March 2003 invasion.

Postwar Inspections: February 2004

Chemical
Iraq did not have a large, ongoing chemical weapons program after 1991. Iraq’s large-scale capability was either reduced or destroyed by U.S. military actions during the 1990s, UN sanctions and inspections.

Biological
Iraq after 1996 focused on maintaining smaller, covert capabilities that could be activated quickly. Iraq concealed relevant equipment and materials from UN inspectors. Iraq had a prison laboratory complex that was possibly used in human testing of biological weapons agents. Additionally, Iraq had a clandestine network of laboratories and facilities. Iraqi scientists conducted some research that was possibly applicable to biological weapons.

The trailers discovered in spring 2003 were not intended for the production of biological weapons.

Nuclear
According to some Iraqi scientists and government officials, Iraq remained committed to acquiring nuclear weapons. Iraq began several small dual-use research initiatives in 2000, but there is no evidence that the research was applied to weapons production.

Iraq took some steps to preserve some technological capability from its previous nuclear weapons program. Several Iraqi scientists preserved documents and equipment from their pre-1991 research. There are indications that Iraq was interested, beginning in 2002, in reconstituting a centrifuge enrichment program. The use of the aluminum tubes is still undetermined, but experts agree that there was no centrifuge program.

Delivery Systems
Iraq was conducting R&D on several different projects designed to produce missiles with ranges exceeding the UN- permitted range. Iraq attempted to acquire technology from North Korea for surface-to-surface missiles with a range of 1,300 km and land-to-sea missiles with a range of 300 km. No such transfers actually occurred.

Unspecified sources have said Iraq ordered the development of ballistic missiles with ranges of at least 400 km and up to 1,000 km. It is unclear how far work on these had progressed. Iraq had two cruise missile programs.

However, Iraq halted engine development and testing on the second and disassembled the test stand in late 2002 before testing was complete. Iraq had several UAV programs. A prototype of one flew well beyond its permitted range during a 2002 test flight. Whether these vehicles were intended to deliver chemical or biological weapons is unknown.

CIA Director George Tenet: Feb. 5, 2004

Chemical
Saddam had the intent and capability to quickly convert civilian industry to chemical weapons production. Saddam had rebuilt a dual-use industry.

Biological
Iraq intended to develop biological weapons. Research and development (R&D) work was underway that would have permitted a rapid shift to agent production if seed stocks were available. The United States does not know if production took place. No biological weapons have been found.

Iraq after 1996 further compartmentalized its program and focused on maintaining smaller covert capabilities that could be activated quickly to surge the production of biological weapons agents.

There is no consensus within the intelligence community today over whether trailers discovered in Iraq in spring 2003 were for the production of biological weapons agents or hydrogen for the production of biological weapons agents or hydrogen.

Nuclear
Saddam Hussein did not have a nuclear weapon, but he still wanted one and Iraq intended to reconstitute a nuclear program at some point. There is no clear evidence that the dual-use items Iraq were attempting to acquire were for nuclear reconstitution.

Delivery Systems
U.S.-led inspectors have found an aggressive Iraqi missile program concealed from the international community. Iraq had plans for liquid propellant missiles with ranges of up to 1,000 kilometers.

Iraq had new work underway on prohibited solid propellant missiles. Iraq was in secret negotiations with North Korea to obtain some of its most dangerous missile technology.

The U.S.-led inspectors detected development of prohibited and undeclared UAVs, but the jury is still out on whether Iraq intended to use its newer, smaller UAV to deliver biological weapons.

 

 

 

 

 

This material is adapted from the public version of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq’s WMD Capabilities; CIA Director George Tenet’s Feb. 5 speech at Georgetown University...

Top Pentagon Official Says Missile Defense Performance Questionable Without More Tests

Wade Boese

In an annual report to Congress, the Pentagon’s top official in charge of ensuring that U.S. weapons perform properly said he could not offer a final verdict on a proposed layered U.S. ballistic missile defense system because it has been only minimally tested.

The Bush administration is currently working to deploy the system’s initial elements—up to six missile interceptors in Alaska and four more in California—starting this June and ending in January 2005. The interceptors, part of the Pentagon’s ground-based midcourse missile defense (GMD) system, are intended to knock out a long-range ballistic missile warhead traveling through space after being fired from Northeast Asia.

Thomas Christie, director of the Pentagon’s Office of Operational Test and Evaluation, told lawmakers in January, “At this point in time, it is not clear what mission capability will be demonstrated prior to [initial defensive operations].”

Christie indicated that his uncertainty about the system’s future capabilities stemmed from the sparse testing conducted by the Pentagon over the past year. “Due to immature [missile defense] elements, very little system level testing was performed by the close of [fiscal year 2003],” Christie reported.

The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has not conducted a GMD system intercept test since a Dec. 11, 2002, intercept test failed. That failure dropped the GMD record to five hits and three misses.

MDA is planning a GMD intercept test in May or June and another in July or August. Christie warned, however, that, “[e]ven with successful intercepts in both of these attempts, the small number of tests would limit confidence in the integrated interceptor performance.”

No intercept test has been conducted of the proposed interceptor’s two key elements—the booster and the exoatmospheric kill vehicle (EKV)—together. The booster lifts the EKV into space. The EKV is then supposed to separate from the booster and home in on an enemy warhead for a destructive collision.

In all eight intercept tests to date, MDA has used a slower surrogate booster after nearly three years of setbacks in developing a more powerful booster. Yet, MDA may have turned the corner on its booster development with successful, nonintercept flight tests of two different booster models in January. Although MDA plans to keep both models as part of the program, only the Orbital Sciences Corporation model will be used in this year’s intercept tests and deployment because of a shortage of the Lockheed Martin Corporation model due to accidents at a plant involved in its production. (See ACT, December 2003.)

The lack of a more powerful booster has resulted in previous intercept tests being done at lesser speeds than what would be expected in a real scenario, Christie indicated. He also stated that all the tests have followed the same pattern and that the system knows what the target looks like in advance. In a real attack, the system may not have such details.

Christie further reported that the Pentagon has no current plans to test a radar located on a remote Alaskan island against an actual target to see if it can track an incoming warhead. The radar, Cobra Dane, is intended to gather information to help pinpoint an enemy warhead for the ground-based interceptors.

Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.), a member of the Armed Services Committee and an outspoken critic of the administration’s deployment plan, seized on Christie’s report, saying his findings “makes it clear that in a rush to win an ideological victory, President [George W.] Bush risks prematurely deploying a missile defense system by 2004 that is technologically unproven and will drain resources from other essential priorities.” Bush campaigned on the need for robust missile defenses and ordered the June 2002 U.S. withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in order to pursue a nationwide defense that would have violated the accord.

MDA spokesman Rick Lehner defended the pace of the GMD program following the release of Christie’s report. He said that, by the time deployment is underway, MDA will have proven that the system can detect, track, and hit a target. He added that the agency has “a great deal of confidence [in the interceptor], most of which comes from the many hundreds of modeling and simulation exercises we’ve completed as well as ground testing.”

Christie also assessed other U.S. missile defense systems. Although asserting that testing of a sea-based system against short- and medium-range ballistic missiles had become more challenging, Christie said the system will not have proven itself against separating or multiple targets before deployment of five of the sea-based interceptors scheduled for this year. The system’s five intercept tests to date involved a single target that stays in one piece.

The Patriot-3 (PAC-3) system, which saw action during the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, requires “significant improvements” to distinguish effectively between friendly and enemy targets, Christie wrote. While knocking out nine Iraqi missiles, Patriot systems—both PAC-3 and older versions—destroyed two friendly aircraft and targeted a third. Christie observed that his recommendation applies to all U.S. defense systems, not just the Patriot.

 

 

 

 

 

In an annual report to Congress, the Pentagon’s top official in charge of ensuring that U.S. weapons perform properly said he could not offer a final verdict on a proposed layered U.S. ballistic missile defense system...

U.S. Rebukes Russia for Failing to Withdraw Troops From Georgia and Moldova

Wade Boese

The United States is strongly criticizing Russia for failing to live up to past pledges to withdraw its armed forces from Georgia and Moldova. (See ACT, December 2003.)

Secretary of State Colin Powell Dec. 2 expressed regret that Moscow would not complete a total military withdrawal from Moldova by the end of 2003 nor finalize a timetable for vacating Russian-occupied bases in Georgia.

Speaking at a foreign ministers meeting of the 55-member Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Powell urged Russia to undertake the “earliest possible fulfillment” of these actions.

Although other OSCE members backed the U.S. position, Russia remained defiant. It refused to reaffirm its withdrawal commitments, which Moscow first made in November 1999 at an OSCE summit in Istanbul.

Because the OSCE operates by consensus, the meeting ended without a final statement. However, Dutch Foreign Minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who served as chairman of the meeting, stated that “most ministers” support Russia’s withdrawal from Moldova “without further delay” and urged the “speedy conclusion of negotiations” on Russia’s continuing presence in Georgia.

Georgia and Moldova expressed displeasure at the meeting’s outcome. Georgia described itself as “deeply disappointed” that no agreed statement could be reached regarding its situation, while Moldova called for the “complete and unconditional withdrawal” of Russian forces from its territory.

Russia is making progress in its withdrawal from Moldova, which was initially supposed to be completed by the end of 2002. Russian and OSCE officials estimate that the ongoing task could be finished within seven to eight months if uninterrupted.

Similar optimism had existed in the first half of 2003. But separatists in the Transdniestria region of Moldova, where the Russian forces are located, blocked shipments of arms and ammunition from leaving the region. Although the separatists, who want financial compensation for Russia’s departure, briefly allowed the withdrawal to resume, theyreneged at the end of the year.

In Georgia, Russia continues officially to control two military bases; its forces occupy a third. The two countries remain divided over how long Russian troops should be allowed to remain. Moscow wants them to stay for at least 11 more years, while Tbilisi says three years are enough.

Reinforcing Powell’s OSCE message, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld traveled Dec. 5 to Georgia, where he described Russia’s future withdrawal as a “pretty good idea.” Rumsfeld’s visit was seemingly designed to signal Russia not to try and take advantage of the shifting political scene in Georgia following the Nov. 23 resignation of longtime President Eduard Shevardnadze.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov replied coolly to Rumsfeld’s remarks the next day, saying, “We are disposed to work constructively so as to find mutually acceptable solutions.”

Until Russia fulfills its withdrawal commitments, the United States and its NATO allies are refusing to ratify the 1999 adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty. The accord is an updated version of an existing treaty that limits the number of tanks, armored combat vehicles, heavy artillery, combat aircraft, and attack helicopters deployed in Europe by 30 countries, including the United States and Russia.

The Kremlin wants the revised accord to enter into force soon so Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania can accede to it before officially joining NATO. The 19-member alliance invited the three countries, along with Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia, to become members in November 2002; and NATO expects the process will be completed by its upcoming June 2004 summit in Istanbul. (See ACT, June 2003.) None of the three Baltic countries currently have arms limits, leading Moscow to suggest NATO could stockpile huge amounts of weaponry along Russia’s western border.

At the OSCE meeting, Ivanov charged that the treaty’s ratification was being held up by “artificial pretexts.” He added, “If we do not take serious and timely measures, the gap between the system of arms control and the actual politico-military situation in Europe may become unbridgeable.”

Despite the mutual recriminations of foot-dragging, the OSCE meeting was not marked by total discord. The 55 members issued a handbook of voluntary best practices for countries to control the illegal trade in small arms, endorsed a process by which countries can request assistance to destroy excess ammunition stockpiles, and called upon countries to improve export controls of shoulder-fired missiles. None of the measures were legally binding.

 

 

 

 

 

The United States is strongly criticizing Russia for failing to live up to past pledges to withdraw its armed forces from Georgia and Moldova. (See ACT, December 2003.)

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Press Releases