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“I also want to thank Daryl Kimball and the Arms Control Association for allowing me to address all of you today and for being such effective advocates for sensible policies to stem the proliferatio nof weapons of mass destruction, and most importantly, reduce the risk of nuclear war.”

– Joseph Biden, Jr.
Senator
January 28, 2004
Press Releases

UK, Russia Issue Draft Proposals To Revamp Iraqi Sanctions Regime

Alex Wagner

Seeking to overhaul the decade-old Iraqi sanctions regime, the United Kingdom, in coordination with the United States, submitted a draft proposal to the UN Security Council on May 21 that would substantially alter the existing regime, easing some sanctions while tightening enforcement of others. In what is widely believed to be a stalling tactic, Russia submitted a competing resolution that offers Iraq significant concessions without attempting to improve the troubled UN sanctions system substantially. 

The draft resolutions come as a six-month extension of the UN oil-for-food program, which Washington wants to replace as part of revamping the sanctions regime, is set to expire June 4. The program allows Iraq to sell unlimited amounts of oil and deposit revenues into a UN-controlled escrow account, which Baghdad can use to purchase construction and humanitarian supplies under UN supervision. To date, the program has been extended nine times.

The British draft resolution incorporates many of the ideas floated by Secretary of State Colin Powell over the past few months. (See ACT, April 2001.) Most significantly, the resolution lifts restrictions on the sale or supply of civilian goods to Iraq. The draft also creates a comprehensive new list of military and dual-use items that require the United Nations’ permission for import. This list replaces the full military arms embargo on Iraq and a list of restricted dual-use items. Furthermore, the draft preserves the requirement that all oil sales revenue be placed in a UN-administered escrow account.

The resolution also seeks to tighten controls on Iraq’s illegal oil exports and surcharges, which generate an estimated $2-3 billion per year. The draft would allow only trading organizations meeting specific criteria set out by the UN secretary-general to sell or supply Iraqi oil. But, realizing that compliance by Iraq’s neighbors would be critical to enforcing a tighter regime, under the proposed resolution the secretary-general would designate authorized checkpoints, monitored by UN personnel, from which Iraq could export oil to border states. Proceeds from oil sales would be deposited in separate national escrow accounts, from which Iraq could draw to pay for commercial transactions with those states. If Iraq stopped exporting oil to border states as retribution for their cooperation with the UN, the draft would protect those states’ economies by compensating them with revenue already in the UN escrow account.

The proposal would also create “new authorized border crossings with Iraq” to restrict other illegal imports or exports. It is presently unclear whether UN or national officials would staff these checkpoints. Furthermore, the resolution would allow countries to resume commercial air flights to and from Iraq, but it would require all flights to land at designated inspection points staffed by national authorities and monitored by UN observers.

On May 22, James Cunningham, acting U.S. representative to the UN, told reporters that Washington wants the British draft resolution adopted before the oil-for-food program expiration date and that it “ought to be negotiable” by that time. In addition to removing controls on Iraq’s civilian trade and focusing on security and disarmament, Cunningham said the draft addresses “a bunch of other issues that have been under discussion in the council for some time where other members have made it clear they wanted to see movement. We have met those concerns.”

On state-run Iraqi television May 23, Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz responded to the new British draft, calling it “very wicked and malicious.” He stressed that, even if the resolution is approved, neither Iraq nor its “sister states” would comply with it. And on May 7, Al-Thawrah, the newspaper of Saddam Hussein’s ruling Ba’ath party, warned Iraq’s neighbors that “compliance with this plan by any state or government would cause grievous harm to its interests.”

Apparently attempting to delay any significant overhaul of the sanctions regime, Russia’s draft incorporates the basic elements of the oil-for-food program, such as retaining the six-month renewal process, but makes several modifications. For instance, it would lower the “deduction rate” taken by the United Nations from oil revenues deposited in the escrow account from 25 percent to 20 percent. The UN uses the 25 percent deduction rate in the current phase of the oil-for-food program to finance Persian Gulf War reparations.

Most significantly, the resolution permits Iraq “unrestricted use of civil aircraft, sea and railway transport for carrying passengers and commercial and humanitarian cargo,” subject to notification of the Iraq Sanctions Committee. Unlike the British draft, no inspections would be required, effectively opening the door to unlimited, virtually unregulated imports.

By retaining the oil-for-food program’s structure, failing to offer new controls, and proposing changes favorable to Iraq, the Russian draft resolution appears politically unacceptable to the United States and United Kingdom. According to a UN source, Washington and London have ruled out consideration of the Russian resolution as a basis for negotiation.

Absent in both resolutions is any mention of a resumption of weapons inspections. During an interview on the May 20 edition of NBC’s Meet the Press, Vice President Dick Cheney refused to link easing sanctions to weapons inspections and said that, although the administration continues “to demand inspection…exactly what’s going to come out of the consultations that are now under way, I wouldn’t want to predict.”

It appears unlikely that the UN Security Council will have time to consider fully and approve any major overhaul of the sanctions regime before the June 4 expiration of the oil-for-food program. Although there would be political resistance from many members, UN sources say that the most likely result will involve a short-term continuation of the oil-for-food program in its present form.

D.P.R.K. Extends Missile Pledge as U.S. Readies to Resume Talks

Alex Wagner

Easing four months of escalating tensions in the U.S.-North Korean relationship, Pyongyang pledged May 3 to extend its voluntary missile-testing moratorium until 2003, according to officials from the European Union (EU). A senior U.S. diplomat subsequently indicated that the Bush administration will soon resume talks left unfinished by the Clinton administration that could end North Korea’s indigenous missile program and missile exports.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il told an EU delegation that visited Pyongyang on May 2-3 that he would continue the moratorium on medium- and long-range ballistic missile tests. At a May 3 press conference in Pyongyang, Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson, who headed the delegation, said that he had expressed the EU’s “very grave concern” about Pyongyang’s missile program to the North Korean leader. The EU decided to send a high-level delegation to the Korean Peninsula after the Bush administration announced in March that it would not immediately resume missile talks with North Korea. (See ACT, April 2001.)

In September 1999, after Washington announced that it was planning to ease some economic sanctions on North Korea, Pyongyang reciprocated by vowing not to test missiles as long as dialogue continued with the United States. A year earlier, North Korea had shocked the world by conducting a test-flight of its 2,000-kilometer-range Taepo Dong-1 missile over Japan. Kim reaffirmed his moratorium in October 2000, promising then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that the 1998 test was the first and last of the medium-range ballistic missile. (See ACT, November 2000.)

However in March, the North Korean government threatened that, given the absence of any negotiations with the Bush administration, the self-imposed moratorium could not be maintained “indefinitely.” At a May 4 press conference in Seoul, EU Secretary-General Javier Solana said that Kim “felt free, once the dialogue was stopped, not to continue with the moratorium.” But Solana also said that, by extending the moratorium, Kim was indicating “he would like to express restraint” and continue dialogue with the United States.

It is not clear why Kim gave 2003 as the year the moratorium could end, but the 1994 Agreed Framework, in which North Korea pledged to give up its nuclear weapons program, stipulates that light-water reactors be built in North Korea by a “target date” of 2003. Current estimates of the reactor’s construction indicate completion by that time is virtually impossible. By allowing North Korea the option of resuming missile tests in 2003, Kim may be buying goodwill while maintaining some leverage should the United States fail to build the reactor.

 However, Solana also said Kim reiterated his long-standing demand that North Korea be compensated for giving up its missile exports. At the May 4 press briefing, Solana told reporters that Kim had said that missile sales “are part of trade.” Solana quoted Kim as saying, “I need money. I’m able to produce this, and I will sell it,” despite EU insistence that such a proposition was not acceptable.

Following the EU trip to the Korean Peninsula, the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, decided May 14 to establish diplomatic relations with North Korea. An EU press release noted the hope that opening formal relations “will facilitate the European Union’s efforts in support of reconciliation” between the Koreas, as well as furthering North Korean economic reform and “easing [the North’s] acute food and health problems.”

At the May 3 press conference in Pyongyang, Persson also said that Kim was “committed” to a second inter-Korean summit with South Korea, which may be held in Seoul later this year. However, he stressed that Kim indicated that the summit could only occur after the Bush administration completed its ongoing North Korean policy review.

Bush Administration Policy

In Seoul for talks on the Bush administration’s strategic nuclear plans (Missile Defense Consultations Abroad Yield Little Progress), Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage announced May 9 that Washington was preparing to renew talks with North Korea “in the very near future.” Armitage told reporters at the South Korean foreign ministry that he had conveyed a letter from President George W. Bush to South Korean President Kim Dae Jung indicating that the policy review was “nearly wrapped up” and that the administration had “strong support” for President Kim’s engagement policies with North Korea.

Armitage said he assured President Kim that, upon completion of the policy review, the United States would consult with Seoul about its findings and how to approach North Korea. He also reaffirmed that Washington “would continue to support the Agreed Framework.”

In an interview with the South Korean newspaper Chungang Ilbo on May 9, Armitage characterized the administration’s “basic approach” to North Korea as one where Washington is “keen to leave North Korea alone,” as long as the regime acts in “a benign fashion on the peninsula” and “is not exporting terrorism” or “threatening” South Korea. He went on to say that he “took positive note” of Kim Jong-Il’s extension of the missile moratorium and recognized that the action was a message meant for the United States.

In the interview, Armitage also said that, in addition to himself and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs James Kelly, Jack Pritchard would be involved in a resumption of dialogue with Pyongyang as the administration’s chief negotiator. Pritchard most recently served as senior director for Asian affairs on the Clinton administration’s National Security Council.

Congress Responds to Bush Missile Plans Along Party Lines

Wade Boese

Congressional Republicans applauded President George W. Bush’s May 1 declaration that the United States would deploy missile defenses, but top Democrats warned Bush against rashly abrogating the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which proscribes nationwide defenses against strategic ballistic missiles. With control of the Senate reverting to the Democrats because of Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords’ decision to leave the Republican Party, it appears likely that Bush will face new challenges in his pursuit of an ambitious missile shield.

Appearing at a May 2 press conference with Senators Carl Levin (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Joe Biden (D-DE), then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) proclaimed that the president’s speech “begins one of the most important and consequential debates that Americans will see in our lifetime.”

At the press conference, Biden suggested that, if the United States unilaterally withdrew from the ABM Treaty and deployed missile defenses, Russia could halt its nuclear reductions and China would increase its number of ICBMs from the 20 or so it has today to “closer to 800.” He further projected that a Chinese missile buildup would prompt India and then Pakistan to expand their nuclear forces, creating a more dangerous Asia that could in turn put pressure on Japan “to go nuclear.”

Biden, who will be the next chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also expressed doubt concerning the premise that rogue states would not be deterred from attacking the United States. Levin, who is expected to become chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, questioned the urgency and priority of the threat, noting that both the U.S. intelligence and defense communities rank the possibility of a missile attack against the United States as the “least likely threat to us.”

In a separate floor statement the same day, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) argued that, if Russia and China remained unconvinced by Bush administration assurances that U.S. missile defenses are not directed at them, a defense could make the United States less safe because Moscow and Beijing could respond by “developing, and eventually selling, new ways to overwhelm our defenses.”

On the House side, Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-MO) said Bush’s approach “may have the effect of undermining our nation’s security rather than enhancing it.” Gephardt stated that Bush is “jeopardizing an arms control framework that has served this nation and the world well for decades” by pushing his plans to deploy “as yet unproven, costly, and expansive national missile defense systems.”

Another Missouri Democrat, Ike Skelton, who started his May 1 statement by noting that he does not oppose missile defense, counseled against pursuing missile defenses at the expense of other military spending and diplomatic approaches. “Every missile not built is one we do not have to defend against,” Skelton stated.

Largely echoing the president, Republican senators and representatives all spoke of the growing threat from countries that have or will soon have long-range ballistic missiles to deliver weapons of mass destruction against the United States. Citing a 1998 commission headed by now-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that reported the United States might have “little or no warning” before a hostile state deployed such a missile, Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), then chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, stated May 2 that “there is no time to lose” in deploying missile defenses.

Although currently only Russia and China possess ICBMs capable of striking the United States, a September 1999 National Intelligence Estimate concluded that within the next 15 years the United States will also most likely face an ICBM threat from North Korea, probably from Iran, and possibly from Iraq.

Republicans also embraced Bush’s judgment of the ABM Treaty as a Cold War relic. Senators James Inhofe (R-OK) and Fred Thompson (R-TN) described the treaty as “outdated,” while House Armed Services Committee Chairman Bob Stump (R-AZ) said that U.S. security strategy “must move beyond the now-obsolete framework that was once the cornerstone of our national security.” Long a critic of the accord, then-Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms (R-NC) declared, “It is time to scrap the ABM Treaty.”

Missile Defense Consultations Abroad Yield Little Progress

Wade Boese

Senior Bush administration officials dispatched around the globe in early May to consult with foreign capitals about the U.S. intent to deploy missile defenses were asked many questions but were able to provide few answers because Washington still has not formulated specific plans. Foreign leaders welcomed the talks, but most withheld support for the nascent Bush vision of a new strategic framework, preferring to wait until they hear more details.

In a May 1 speech, President George W. Bush explained why he believes the United States needs to deploy missile defenses and “leave behind the constraints” of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which proscribes nationwide defenses against strategic ballistic missiles. (See previous page.) But Bush also pledged to consult with other countries, saying that he did not want to present them with “unilateral decisions already made” and that Moscow and Washington should “work together to replace [the ABM Treaty] with a new framework.”

Less than a week later, the first of three high-level delegations, soon followed by the other two, traveled abroad for the promised consultations. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs James Kelly traveled to Asia, while two teams, one headed by Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman and the other by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley, visited Europe. Over a nine-day span, the delegations visited 19 countries, including Russia and China, and briefed NATO.

At each of their stops, the delegations emphasized two themes: that Washington intended to hold true consultations in which other countries could express their views and that the world has dramatically changed since 1972, when Moscow and Washington signed the ABM Treaty. U.S. officials explained that Russia is no longer an enemy and that new threats arising from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction demand new responses, such as missile defenses. In this new world, the United States wants to “think in a new way about deterrence,” Grossman said during his May 9 stop in the Netherlands.

The delegations, however, said missile defenses were only one element of Bush’s new strategic framework, which will also include non-proliferation, counter-proliferation, and unilateral nuclear reductions. When pressed on specific details of these elements, particularly missile defenses, all the U.S. delegations demurred, saying it was too early for such discussions.

After briefing NATO on May 8, Grossman said, “The decisions about how, and when, and how much, are still decisions to come and, as we said today, decisions that have not been made in the United States.” Similarly, Wolfowitz in Warsaw on May 10 explained, “What we are talking about at the moment is still a concept.”

Although Bush made clear in his speech that he sees little utility in the ABM Treaty, the visiting U.S. delegations said its fate had yet to be decided. “There has been no decision about how to deal with the ABM Treaty,” Wolfowitz declared May 9 in Paris. Speaking May 11 in Tbilisi, Georgia, Grossman said, “It’s very, very important that you understand that there has been no decision to leave the ABM Treaty,” though he reiterated that, to create Bush’s new framework, “we may need to move beyond the constraints of the ABM Treaty.”

At their stops, U.S. officials declined to discuss the reactions and positions of their hosts, but on May 15, Pentagon spokesman Craig Quigley described the responses as “mixed,” admitting there was “skepticism from some of the capitals.” Quigley also said, however, that there was “some positive reaction” from certain countries, specifically identifying Poland and Australia.

India, a country that has long criticized U.S. strategic policy, described Bush’s speech as “highly significant and far-reaching.” New Delhi’s warm reception comes at a time when there are growing signs that the Bush administration may lift U.S. sanctions imposed on India for its May 1998 nuclear tests. When asked in India on May 11 about this possibility, Armitage replied, “The question of sanctions is one for the United States to resolve…but I think it is quite clear the direction we are heading.”

After the Armitage visit, India’s Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement welcoming U.S. plans for nuclear reductions and de-alerting, as well as the proposed “new Strategic Framework, based upon consultation and cooperation rather than confrontation.” But the statement also emphasized “the need to not unilaterally abrogate” the ABM Treaty.

Preserving the ABM Treaty and arms control in general also ranked high on European concerns. Danish Foreign Minister Mogens Lykketoft, appearing with Grossman on May 9, stated, “A unilateral cancellation of the [ABM] Treaty would not be a good signal.” With regard to missile defense, he said, “Of course, what is of concern to us in Denmark, and I think to very many Europeans, is that this should not create a new arms race.” French, German, Ukrainian, and Italian officials all publicly expressed similar sentiments.

In Turkey, Grossman said the United States hoped that there would be “as wide participation as possible in the development” of missile defenses, though he admitted that Washington is “far from asking any allies to do anything specific.” The United Kingdom, Denmark, and Canada—all countries that are expected to be asked to play some role in future U.S. missile defenses—have maintained that they will not take a stance on participation until the Bush administration has a specific request for them. Lykketoft noted that Denmark is “not ready to take any decision on a project that has not been described in any detail yet.”

Some in Europe even questioned the U.S. threat assessment. A French Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson on May 11 stated, “I don’t think [missile defense] is based on the need to face an immediate threat.” After his briefing to NATO, Grossman remarked, “While by no means everybody agrees on every single piece of the threat, I think there was a general recognition that the world has changed.”


 

Russia and China

 

Despite a May 11 stop in Moscow by Wolfowitz and Hadley as well as a May 18 visit by Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov to Washington, Moscow still questions that there are new threats. Igor Sergeyev, former Russian defense minister and now presidential adviser, reportedly described the U.S. justification for missile defenses as “laughable” after the U.S. delegation visit. Taking a more diplomatic tone, Ivanov said Russia understands “that times are changing and that new challenges and threats may arise.”

During his Washington visit, Ivanov proposed that the two sides form two working groups, one to study threats and another to look at how to “solve these problems.” The United States is considering the proposal.

After meeting with Secretary of State Colin Powell, Ivanov reiterated Moscow’s strong support for the ABM Treaty, saying, “We cherish this treaty.” Speaking earlier on a May 4 visit to India, he warned, “It is inadmissible to take reckless steps which can destroy the work of the existing mechanisms ensuring international stability and security with no guarantees that the new schemes will be more effective.”

Though taking a tough line on the ABM Treaty, Russian officials repeatedly remarked how pleased they are that talks on strategic stability with the Bush administration have started. Russian President Vladimir Putin will get a personal opportunity to continue the dialogue and narrow differences when he meets Bush on June 16 in Slovenia for their first face-to-face meeting.

China also expressed a desire to continue consultations with Washington on missile defenses after a May 15 visit by Kelly, though Beijing spoke even more bluntly against U.S. plans than Moscow. Beijing, which fears that even a limited U.S. defense could negate its small arsenal of roughly 20 ICBMs, said its opposition will not change and that Washington risks triggering a new arms race. The day of Kelly’s visit, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson warned that the U.S. plan to deploy missile defenses “harms others without benefiting the United States itself.”

Kelly attempted to reassure China, declaring that a U.S. missile defense “would not be a threat to China.” Nevertheless, the U.S. intelligence community assessed last fall that China would likely respond to U.S. defenses by building up its strategic forces.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, however, dismissed such concerns during a May 6 interview on NBC, saying that U.S. missile defense plans will not “affect one whit what [China] does.” He continued, “They’re going to develop additional weapons. They’ve said that, they’ve been writing that, they are doing that.”

In addition to its opposition to strategic missile defenses, China voiced objection to theater missile defenses (TMD). In fact, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that to a certain degree China would oppose TMD even more than U.S. national missile defenses if TMD were used to strengthen military alliances or were destabilizing to Asia—a not-so-veiled warning against the United States supplying TMD to Taiwan.

U.S. spokesmen denied that the results of the recent talks disappointed the administration. White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said May 16, “There was never an expectation that people would go abroad and come back and have the allies say, ‘Sign us up.’” Likewise, on May 14 State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, “We are not going out to collect a bunch of pelts on missile defense.” Both said consultations will continue, and Boucher emphasized, “We intend to proceed with [missile] defense.”

Energy Official, GAO Testify on DOE Threat Reduction Efforts

Philipp C. Bleek

The Energy Department will have to “curtail” its non-proliferation activities at the reduced funding levels proposed by the administration, the head of the department’s National Nuclear Security division testified before a Senate subcommittee May 15. At the same hearing, the General Accounting Office (GAO) presented critiques of the Material Protection, Control, and Accounting (MPC&A) program and the Nuclear Cities Initiative (NCI)—two key department non-proliferation programs that the administration has targeted for substantial cuts.

In April, the administration submitted a budget proposal to Congress that would reduce Department of Energy (DOE) Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation funding from its current level of about $875 million to $775 million, with the bulk of proposed cuts impacting nuclear non-proliferation efforts in Russia. Intended to secure vulnerable fissile material and assist Russia in safely downsizing its ponderous nuclear complex, the programs face substantial funding decreases from just over $300 million this year  to about $200 million in fiscal year 2002.

The proposed cuts to programs that traditionally enjoy broad bipartisan support have sparked considerable concern in Congress. (See ACT, May 2001.) The House-Senate conference budget resolution approved by both houses in early May, while essentially mirroring the president’s proposed budget and therefore failing to reinstate the proposed cuts, specifically calls on the administration to restore $100 million in funding for DOE’s non-proliferation programs.

General John Gordon, undersecretary for nuclear security, testified before the Senate Armed Services Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee that, given proposed budget cuts, “it should be apparent and obvious that we will have to curtail efforts in several areas and potentially lose momentum in some.” But Gordon also noted that the programs are under review and held out the possibility that the administration could “request a readjustment of the budget once these reviews are complete.” Gordon stated that he expects the administration to develop an “overarching strategy” that takes a “fresh look” at the initiatives in the context of overall policy toward Russia.

At the hearing, the General Accounting Office presented two recent analyses: a May 3 critique of the NCI and an earlier February 28 report on the MPC&A program. Each report praised the programs’ efforts to date but raised questions about their ongoing implementation and recommended that strategic plans be developed for both.

GAO criticized the “limited success” of the Nuclear Cities Initiative’s efforts to establish jobs for weapons scientists in Russia’s nuclear cities and recommended the development of a plan with “clearly defined goals” to assist in determining the program’s future scope and direction. Noting that to date the bulk of program funds have been expended in U.S. laboratories rather than on-site in Russia, GAO suggested allocating a greater proportion of funds to the nuclear cities. GAO also recommended considering a merger of the Nuclear Cities Initiative with another program working to provide jobs for Russian weapons scientists, the Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (IPP). Gordon emphasized at the hearing that his department had taken the recommendations to heart and was in the process of both implementing them and reviewing a possible merger of the NCI and IPP programs.

Concerning MPC&A, a program designed to safeguard Russia’s weapons-usable fissile material, GAO noted that the Energy Department is already developing a strategic plan but recommended that the plan take into account the sustainability of security upgrades in Russia. It also suggested considering the issues of inadequate access to sensitive sites and consolidation of nuclear materials stored at separate locations, which it considers necessary for completion of the program’s work. Gordon concurred that “significant work remains to be done” and emphasized his willingness to implement the office’s major recommendations.

Following repeated queries from Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), Gordon suggested that the administration’s ongoing threat reduction review might wrap up “in a month or so.” After Roberts remarked that he and Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) were getting “a little testy” about the length of the review process, Gordon observed that some of his staff shared the senators’ sentiments, noting that those executing the programs were reluctant to undertake actions that might put them “out of sync” with the administration.

Fire Shuts Down Russian Early-Warning System

Philipp C. Bleek

A May 10 fire at a Russian satellite-control facility at least temporarily compromised Russia’s ability to detect the launch of long-range missiles from the United States, highlighting the deterioration of the country’s early-warning capabilities.

The fire broke out in the early morning hours at a satellite-control center near Serpukhov, a city outside Moscow, and was reportedly extinguished only after it had effectively gutted the building. The blaze appears to have knocked out communication with four early-warning satellites that monitor U.S. ICBM fields.

Russia maintains a variety of early-warning capabilities that provide some redundancy, but the loss of communication with the satellites likely increased the time Russia would have required to detect a launch, decreasing the amount of time available for Russian officials to determine whether an attack was underway.

 

Russian news sources provided conflicting reports as to how quickly contact with the satellites was restored after the fire. While some reported that uplinks were re-established at another control center within 24 hours, others cited Russian officials stating that contact was not fully restored until four days after the fire. A U.S. administration official was able to confirm that contact with the satellites had been lost, during which time the satellites would have gone into a “safekeeping mode” in which no data could be transmitted, but was unable to clarify how quickly contact had been re-established.

Attempting to ensure that such incidents do not lead to mistaken warning of nuclear attack, the United States and Russia signed a series of agreements last year establishing a center at which U.S. and Russian officers would jointly monitor early-warning information. (See ACT, July/August 2000 and January/February 2001.) Implementation of those agreements remains stalled pending ongoing disputes over tax and liability exemptions. According to an administration official, Russian officials are insisting that import duties and taxes be paid by U.S. contractors working to renovate the former kindergarten outside Moscow that the Russians have provided to house the center. Russian officials also continue to decline requests for liability exemptions for U.S. contractors.

The administration official emphasized that, although the parties have been unable to reach agreement on a mutually acceptable “diplomatic framework” to resolve the tax and liability issues, the administration remains optimistic that the issues can be worked out by June, when Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin are scheduled to meet for the first time, allowing the early-warning center to begin operating by the end of the year.

Senate Narrowly Confirms Bolton To Top Arms Control Post

Philipp C. Bleek

By a vote of 57-43, the Senate confirmed controversial nominee John Bolton as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security on May 8. Bolton’s confirmation to the most senior administration post specifically tasked with the formulation of arms control policy was opposed by all but seven Democratic senators.

During the confirmation process, Bolton came under fire for views he articulated while serving as senior vice president of the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Bolton has called the United Nations ineffective and been generally dismissive of multilateralism. He has also called for full diplomatic recognition of Taiwan and spoken out against the “illusionary protections of unenforceable treaties,” referring to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

At Bolton’s March 29 confirmation hearing, Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) stated that the “inflammatory rhetoric” Bolton had displayed gave him “pause over [Bolton’s] capacity for handling the job.” Biden said, “I have always voted against nominees who oppose the avowed purpose of the position to which they have been nominated.” Senator John Kerry (D-MA) agreed, saying the nominee’s views on arms control issues were “inconsistent with the best interests of the United States.”

However, Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC), then chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, effusively praised Bolton as the “most qualified man for the job” and as “the kind of man with whom I would want to stand at Armageddon.”

Eschewing his past provocative language, Bolton downplayed the concerns raised by Democratic senators at his confirmation hearing and said little of substance on the most controversial issues. When asked about topics such as missile defense and the CTBT, Bolton simply quoted comments made by President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell. On other issues, he avoided the most pointed questions altogether. Repeatedly asked about his stance on the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, Bolton replied that he had yet to do the “couple of hours” of “intellectual heavy lifting” required to formulate a firm position on the legal status of the agreement.

Attempting to assuage his critics, Bolton remarked, “I personally consider that sound, verifiable arms control agreements and energetic non-proliferation strategies can and should be critical elements of American foreign policy.”

Bolton previously served as assistant secretary of state for international organizations under President George Bush, and he held several positions in the Reagan administration, including assistant attorney general and assistant administrator and counsel at the Agency for International Development. Before his confirmation, he had worked at AEI for more than four years.

The Senate vote followed the Foreign Relations Committee’s narrow approval of the nominee by a 10-8 vote April 26, with Democratic Senator Russell Feingold (WI) joining Republican members of the committee in supporting Bolton. All 50 Republican senators voted to confirm Bolton. They were joined by Democratic Senators Feingold, Evan Bayh (IN), John Breaux (LA), Mary Landrieu (LA), Joseph Lieberman (CT), Zell Miller (GA), and Ben Nelson (NE).

Tóth Issues Draft BWC Protocol, Reactions in Geneva Mixed

Seth Brugger

The negotiations to produce a protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) took a major step forward March 30 with the release of the "chairman's text"—a draft protocol issued by Chairman Tibor Tóth that contains proposed solutions to all outstanding issues. Delegates began to provide feedback on the text at the start of their negotiating session April 23, with some countries supporting the text but others expressing reservations. (See Executive Summary of the Chairman's Text.)

The release of the chairman's text is the culmination of months of intensive preparation by Tóth, who has conducted private consultations with the delegations on outstanding controversial matters since last July and used the feedback from these discussions to revise and circulate proposed solutions continually.

During the last session, held in February, Tóth compiled all his proposals into one package. Taken as a whole, the package represented a good portion of his chairman's text, although it did not deal with the most contentious issues. With the release of his text, Tóth has gone one step further, putting forward a new draft protocol that tackles all of the outstanding issues, including:

What facilities a state should declare. States-parties have agreed on the need to declare certain facilities, such as "maximum biological containment" facilities and facilities that work with agents listed in the protocol. But the group has differed on whether to require annual declarations from other kinds of facilities, such as "high biological containment" facilities. Behind this disagreement has been the desire of the developing states to have the developed states, which contain most of the world's biological-related facilities, bear the brunt of the declaration-visit regime. For their part, developed states have wanted only to declare facilities "most relevant" to the protocol.

Under the chairman's text, the developed countries would declare a larger number of facilities. But the text contains provisions that would limit the number of facilities that should be declared. For instance, rather than having all high-containment facilities submit declarations, states would only declare these facilities if they were of a certain size and were involved in certain activities, such as vaccine production.

The Ad Hoc Group has also differed on the parts of biological defense programs and the types of defense facilities that should submit annual declarations. Some countries have wanted all defense facilities and activities to be declared; others have wanted to exclude smaller facilities and activities. The chairman's text compromises on this issue by requiring states-parties to submit summaries of all their national biological defense activities while limiting the number of declarable defense facilities and exempting smaller defense facilities from submitting declarations.

How investigations should be launched. Some countries have argued for a strong regime that would allow investigations of questionable activities to proceed unless the Executive Council, the executive body of the protocol's implementing agency, voted to halt them. Other countries, arguing that such a system could facilitate abuse of the right to request an investigation, have wanted investigations to proceed only if approved by the Executive Council.

Tóth's text compromises on this issue by establishing different voting procedures for different types of investigations. For example, a "facility investigation" would not proceed unless a majority of the Executive Council voted for it to go forward. But a "field investigation" of alleged use of biological weapons on the territory of a requesting state-party would proceed unless three-quarters of the Executive Council voted to stop it.

Whether "clarification" visits would be mandatory and whether these visits could be conducted at undeclared facilities. Believing that they would be subject to more clarification visits than Western countries, many non-aligned states have sought to limit the scope of these visits. They have opposed imposing these visits on states or allowing them to apply to undeclared sites. Western states, however, have sought just the opposite in order to strengthen the compliance regime.

The chairman's text includes provisions that would allow states to raise concerns about and consult with other member states on declared facilities or undeclared facilities that meet the requirements for declaration. If questions persist about a declaration or the lack of a declaration after consultations with the state in question, a clarification visit could be imposed if one was not offered first.

What facilities should be subject to "randomly selected transparency" visits. Some states have wanted all declared facilities to be subject to these visits and for the visits to be spread equally among states-parties. Others have wanted the number of visits conducted in a state to be proportionate to the number of facilities that state declared. And others have wanted only certain types of facilities to be visited.

Tóth's text would subject all facilities submitting declarations to these visits and makes the likelihood of a state receiving a visit proportionate to the number of declared facilities in the state. However, it also would limit the number of visits each state and declared facility could receive in a given time period and exempts many large pharmaceutical companies producing drugs and antibiotics from receiving transparency visits at least until the first protocol review conference, which would be held within five years of the protocol's entry into force.

The Ad Hoc Group has also disagreed on the purpose of these visits. Some states have wanted them to help confirm the accuracy of declarations, while others have felt that the visits should only promote transparency. Under the chairman's text, these visits would aim to increase "confidence" in the accuracy of declarations, encourage the submission of accurate declarations, and enhance transparency.

The role of export controls in the protocol regime. To provide an incentive for developing states to join the protocol, the group has long agreed on the need for the protocol to establish robust measures to facilitate trade and cooperation in biotechnology. Many developing states have been concerned, however, that developed states' export control policies would interfere with their ability to take advantage of such provisions. This has led to calls for states-parties to subsume their export controls under a multilateral framework that would be applied uniformly to all states-parties or for a mechanism to review and overturn denials of requests for transfers of biotechnology. Developed countries, however, have contended that any such measures would infringe too much on their national sovereignty and interfere with established export control policies and export control regimes, such as the Australia Group.

Although the chairman's text contains a number of provisions to encourage trade and cooperation among protocol states-parties, it does not include measures that would interfere with national export controls or international export control regimes. It would only require states to review and report on their national export controls within 180 days of when the protocol enters into force for them and to report any subsequent changes in their controls.

Definitions. Some states, mainly Russia, have wanted to define certain terms, such as "agent," contending this would help clarify the range of the protocol's activities. Most others have felt that such definitions would amend the convention's scope, an action that would exceed the group's mandate. As a compromise, Tóth did not define terms such as "agent" or "toxin" but did define the terms "biological and toxin weapons" and "purposes not prohibited by the convention." In his definition of these two terms, he used the same language as the first article of the BWC, thereby avoiding the issue of amending the convention.

Thresholds. Russia, among others, has also wanted the protocol to allow any facility to retain agents listed in the protocol in low quantities, a measure opposed by most other delegations. The chairman's text, in line with the BWC, does not permit or deny states-parties the right to retain agents. Rather, as a transparency measure, it calls upon member states to declare the range of agents that their facilities possess for biological defense purposes. This formula would allow states-parties to retain agents for biological defense but would leave the question of whether a facility's agents are for legitimate purposes to other mechanisms in the protocol, such as inspections.

 

Initial Feedback From the Delegations

The delegations have begun to discuss the chairman's text at the latest round of the negotiations, which have been held in Geneva several times each year since 1995 to negotiate a legally binding protocol to the BWC. The convention outlaws biological weapons but does not contain verification measures.

In his opening remarks to the session, Tóth acknowledged that his text could not replace the current draft protocol, used as the basis for the negotiations since July 1997, unless agreed by all the delegations. The chairman's text is largely derived from the rolling text, incorporating not only agreed language but also compromises on disputed issues.

In their opening statements, no state-party rejected the text outright, but some expressed reservations. For instance, China said that the text did not "properly" address "quite a number of major outstanding issues, such as clarification visits, decision-making mechanisms of investigations, declaration triggers, and transfers." Beijing added that the text is "discriminatory" and "far from the final agreement" and that "quality should not be compromised for the interest of speed." China, Cuba, and Pakistan all said that the rolling text should remain the basis of the negotiations and that Tóth's text should be viewed as reference material.

Russia asserted that the text contained a number of "unacceptable" elements and warned that it would continue to defend its positions. Iran complained that provisions to review and overturn decisions on the export of biotechnology had not been included and said that the text's release did not necessarily move the negotiations into the endgame. Cuba and Pakistan expressed similar concerns on export controls, with Islamabad adding that the protocol must "establish one uniform and multilateral regime" to govern biotechnology exports.

The European Union, some other members of the Western Group, and some non-aligned countries advocated using the chairman's text as the basis for continuing discussions. The United States has remained quiet during the session's first two days, as the Bush administration is finishing a review of its policy in this area. Despite the U.S. delegation's silence, reports indicate that the administration will not likely come out in favor of the protocol.

The delegations will use the rest of the session, which will conclude May 11, to discuss the chairman's text. Tóth plans to go over his text in detail, receive comments from the delegations, and then consult with them privately. But whether or how Tóth's text will replace the rolling text remains unclear.

The group does not have much time left to conclude its work. It has aimed to complete the protocol in time for the fifth BWC review conference, scheduled to begin November 19, but has only seven weeks of negotiations left before the conference. BWC states-parties are preparing for the conference on the sidelines of the session at a three-day preparatory meeting. That meeting has elected Tóth to chair the conference and has performed other administrative matters such as setting a draft agenda.

Bush Approves Major Arms Deal To Taiwan, Defers Aegis Sale

Wade Boese

On April 24, President George W. Bush authorized the sale of a major package of arms to Taiwan, including destroyers, diesel-powered submarines, and anti-submarine aircraft, but he deferred Taipei's request for U.S. destroyers equipped with the advanced Aegis combat system. Striving to further show his strong support for Taiwan, the president stated the following day that the United States would defend Taiwan against a Chinese attack, abandoning the ambiguity that typically cloaks Washington's response to how it would handle such a scenario.

Always attracting attention, the annual decision on what weapons to offer Taiwan elicited even greater scrutiny this year because of strained relations between Washington and Beijing following the April 1 collision of a U.S. surveillance plane and a Chinese fighter. After this year's arms package became public, Bush told The Washington Post that he will drop the annual process in favor of considering Taiwanese arms requests on an "as-needed basis," apparently hoping to lessen the spectacle surrounding the decision each year.

White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said April 24 that the "heart of the [weapons] package" offered by the Bush administration to Taiwan is four Kidd-class guided-missile destroyers, eight diesel-powered submarines, and a dozen P-3C Orion anti-submarine aircraft. Torpedoes, artillery systems, and naval anti-mine helicopters, among other weaponry, were also reportedly put on the table for Taiwan, which will now decide over the coming months on what arms it will officially request to buy.

Bush opted against including more-advanced Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers equipped with the Aegis combat system in the arms package, though administration officials indicated that the system might be made available in the future. Described by the U.S. Navy as a "total weapon system, from detection to kill," the Aegis combat system can detect and track more than 100 targets simultaneously while also directing the ship's weapons to counter incoming air, surface, and submarine threats. China is opposed to all arms sales to Taiwan, but it had warned specifically against the potential sale of the Aegis-equipped destroyer because of concerns about its advanced capabilities, including the possibility that it could be used as a platform for future missile defenses.

By not ruling out the future option of transferring Aegis-equipped destroyers, Bush appeared to be signaling to China that its actions could influence what weapon systems his administration makes available to Taiwan in the coming years. Washington has increasingly spoken out against Beijing's growing deployment of ballistic missiles across from Taiwan.

Discussing the possible deals on April 24, Pentagon spokesman Craig Quigley implied that the decision not to offer the more advanced destroyers reflected U.S. concerns about providing Taiwan with weapons systems it could make use of more quickly. In congressional testimony in March, Admiral Dennis Blair, commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Command, noted that the decommissioned Kidd-class destroyers, originally built for the Shah of Iran before he was toppled from power, could be ready for Taiwan within roughly two years, whereas the Aegis-equipped destroyers would not be available until around 2008 or later.

In making arms offers, Quigley explained that "you try to make your decision based on what a country or an entity can effectively use." He added that the Aegis system is "demanding" and could require so much attention and resources that other military elements could "atrophy."

Quigley described the prospective arms package as "robust" and geared toward "sea control and an anti-submarine warfare capability." A Pentagon report released last June warned that China's numerical superiority in submarines constituted a "threat" to Taiwan's navy and that Taipei would probably have an "extremely difficult time opposing a naval blockade with its existing resources." Taiwan currently has four submarines, two of which are considered obsolete, while China has approximately 60, though only about 10 of them are modern.

The Clinton administration declined to sell submarines to Taiwan, considering them to be offensive rather than defensive weapons. Though committing itself to provide Taiwan with the arms necessary to "maintain a sufficient self-defense capability" in the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, Washington has also sought to avoid providing Taipei with weapons that it could use offensively and thereby provoke a Chinese attack.

The United States does not currently operate or produce diesel-powered submarines, making how it will sell them to Taiwan unclear. Litton Ingalls, the U.S. shipbuilder that built the U.S. Navy's last conventional submarine in 1959, currently plans to build two conventional submarines for Egypt using a Dutch design. When asked on April 24 how the United States would supply Taiwan with submarines, Quigley noted that "a variety of good diesel electric submarine designs" exist and singled out Dutch and German plans, though he admitted no "advance prep work" had been done as far as he knew.

A Dutch Foreign Ministry official interviewed April 25 said Amsterdam would not participate in providing submarines to Taiwan, explaining that Dutch policy since 1984 has been not to supply arms to either Taiwan or China. Likewise, a German government official interviewed the same day said Berlin would also decline a U.S. request regarding submarines for Taiwan, citing Germany's "one-China policy" (shared by the United States), which recognizes that there is only one China and that Taiwan is part of China. The official also cited Germany's policy not to export arms to areas of tension. Both officials pointed out that Washington had yet to speak with their governments about the issue.

A Pentagon spokesperson interviewed April 26 downplayed the Dutch and German responses, saying there is not a "finite way" to approach the issue and expressing confidence that "where there is a will there is a way." Fleischer assured reporters at the April 24 White House briefing that the United States would not have offered submarines to Taiwan "if we didn't believe that we had the means to secure their production."

The United States is also not currently building the P-3C Orion aircraft. U.S. manufacturer Lockheed Martin last built eight of the anti-submarine planes for South Korea in 1995. A Lockheed Martin official noted that the company had needed to restart the production line for the South Korean order, so building more aircraft would be possible. But, he added, "We have not been asked to do anything yet."

Although the proposed package did not include the Aegis-equipped destroyers, it is being touted as the biggest U.S. arms deal for Taiwan since 1992, when the elder George Bush authorized the sale of 150 F-16 fighter aircraft to the island.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson warned on April 24 that the possible delivery of the proposed weapons would be a "violent infringement upon China's sovereignty and blatant interference in China's internal affairs." The spokesperson further complained that the proposed deals would violate the 1982 Sino-U.S. Joint Communiqué, which states that the United States will not "carry out a long-term policy of arms sales to Taiwan" and will not increase the quality or quantity of arms it delivers to Taiwan.

 

Bush on Defending Taiwan

In an interview aired on ABC on April 25, Bush said he felt the United States has an obligation to defend Taiwan if it is attacked by China. When asked whether this would include a U.S. military response, Bush answered, "Whatever it took to help Taiwan defend theirself." Questioned later by the Associated Press, Bush asserted twice that a U.S. military response was "certainly an option" in such a case.

The United States does not have a treaty responsibility to militarily defend Taiwan. Previous U.S. administrations have deliberately remained vague about a U.S. response to a Chinese attack on Taiwan, and none have ever explicitly stated the United States would send U.S. forces to defend the island. The Taiwan Relations Act emphasizes the necessity of peaceful relations between China and Taiwan, warning that any non-peaceful effort to resolve the future of Taiwan would be of "grave concern" to the United States. China contends it will resort to force only if Taiwan declares independence, is occupied by a foreign power, or indefinitely delays negotiating reunification.

In another interview with CNN that same day, Bush did not refer to a U.S. military option, but said the United States "will do what it takes to help Taiwan defend herself." Reaffirming that the United States will still adhere to the one-China policy, Bush also counseled Taiwan against declaring independence, saying that "we will work with Taiwan to make sure that that doesn't happen." He further stated that "nothing has really changed in policy." State Department spokesman Philip Reeker echoed the president, stating, "Our policy hasn't changed today."

On April 26, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson described Bush's ABC remarks as "erroneous" and said they demonstrated that the United States has "drifted further on the dangerous road." The spokesperson also reiterated the closely-held Chinese belief that Taiwan is the "most important and sensitive issue" between the United States and China.

China Opposes Prospective U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan

Wade Boese

Repeating what has become an annual exercise, senior Chinese government officials stepped up their public opposition in March to U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. The United States, which decides every April what weapons it will sell to Taiwan, has, as always, remained silent about its prospective sales but has stressed its commitment to help provide for Taiwan's defense.

Beijing, which considers Taiwan to be a renegade province and seeks the island's reunification with the mainland, views all arms sales by foreign countries to Taipei as a violation of Chinese sovereignty. Washington justifies its Taiwan arms sales as an obligation arising from the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which calls on the United States to make available arms "necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability." The United States adopted the act after switching diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China.

This year, Taiwan is reportedly seeking, among other arms, to buy P-3C Orion anti-submarine aircraft, advanced anti-radar missiles, and four U.S. Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers equipped with the Aegis combat system. The Clinton administration declined to sell these weapons last year but did approve for the first time the sale of an advanced air-to-air missile.

China is most upset by the possible destroyer sale because of the ship's advanced radar, communications, and battle management capabilities, as well as the fact that the United States is planning to use these ships as the platform for its own naval theater missile defense systems. Speaking to reporters in Beijing March 14, Sha Zukang, who heads the Chinese Foreign Ministry's arms control and disarmament department, expressed "hate" for all U.S. arms sales to Taiwan but said that the "Aegis is the worst." Sha worried that the destroyer's advanced technology would permit it to be "linked" to the U.S. military, which he stated would be "tantamount to [a] de facto military alliance" between Taipei and Washington.

Earlier in the month, on March 6, Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan warned the sale of advanced weaponry like the destroyers would "endanger China-U.S. relations" and counseled the United States to "rein in its wild horse right on the side of the precipice." Chinese officials describe Taiwan as the most important and sensitive issue in U.S.-China relations.

Since the Bush administration assumed office in January, China has sent three delegations to the United States to lobby against U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, the most recent being the trip made by Vice Premier Qian Qichen in mid-March. Qian told reporters March 20 that the sale of the Aegis-equipped ships could change China's approach to reunification with Taiwan from peaceful to "military." Chinese policy, as outlined in February 2000, is that Beijing will only resort to force against Taiwan if the island declares independence, is occupied by a foreign country, or indefinitely refuses to negotiate on reunification.

Meeting with top U.S. officials later in the week, Qian did not repeat the same statement. Instead, according to a senior State Department official, on March 21 Qian issued the standard Chinese complaint to Secretary of State Colin Powell, saying that China considers U.S. arms sales to Taiwan a violation of the 1982 Sino-U.S. Joint Communiqué, which stated that the United States would not "carry out a long-term policy of arms sales to Taiwan" and that U.S. arms sales would "not exceed, either in qualitative or in quantitative terms, the level of those supplied in recent years." Powell disagreed, the official said, and defended U.S. arms sales as helping stability in the region.

Qian did not raise the issue of arms sales with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld the next morning, but he broached it with President George W. Bush that night without mentioning specific weapons systems. A senior administration official said the president reaffirmed to Qian the U.S. commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act. Bush, according to the official, also told Qian in a general discussion on regional security that "nothing we do is a threat to you, and I want you to tell that to your leadership."

In an exclusive interview with The Washington Post the following day in Beijing, Chinese President Jiang Zemin declared, "We absolutely oppose the sale of advanced weapons by the United States to Taiwan." He further warned, "The more weapons you sell, the more we will prepare ourselves in terms of our national defense." The sale of Aegis-equipped destroyers would be "very detrimental to China-U.S. relations," Jiang concluded.

For their part, Bush administration officials contend they have yet to decide on any specific weapons package, saying the decision will be made in April. Some Taiwan papers, however, report that Washington has already decided not to supply the advanced destroyers. An alternative could be the sale of four decommissioned Kidd-class guided-missile destroyers, which are not equipped with the Aegis system. Such a sale would be less provocative to China and could likely be completed sooner.

According to Litton Ingalls, one of the two U.S. companies that build the Arleigh Burke destroyers, it takes three years to build an Arleigh Burke-class ship to established U.S. specifications; Taiwan's requirements would likely be different. In addition, the two companies are currently building additional destroyers for the U.S. Navy, and it is uncertain how Taiwan ships would fit into the schedule.

During a mid-March visit to China, Admiral Dennis Blair, commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Command, cautioned that U.S. decisions on what arms to sell Taiwan "depend in large measure" on what China does with its missiles that threaten the island. Blair noted that China has approximately 300 missiles deployed across from Taiwan and is adding about 50 a year.

Senior Republicans in Congress, led by Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC), have advocated the sale of advanced weaponry to Taiwan. On March 8, a professional staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which is chaired by Helms, released a report arguing that "Taiwan does need new platforms, particularly submarines and advanced destroyers." The report charged that the United States has not only been "rejecting and slowing down arms sales to Taiwan," but "dumbing down" weapons approved for Taiwan. Taiwan's military is also "increasingly worried" about Chinese military activities and weapons buys from Russia, the report noted. (Two days before the report's release, China announced a 17.7 percent increase in its defense spending.)

According to the Pentagon, it delivered more than $15.3 billion in weaponry to Taiwan between fiscal years 1990 and 1999, as compared with only $4.4 billion in all prior years back to 1950. A Congressional Research Service report last August noted that, over an eight-year period beginning in 1992, Taiwan received some $20.6 billion in arms, while China imported roughly $5.9 billion in weapons. China primarily buys Russian weaponry, which are cheaper than U.S. arms.

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