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"...the Arms Control Association [does] so much to keep the focus on the issues so important to everyone here, to hold our leaders accountable to inspire creative thinking and to press for change. So we are grateful for your leadership and for the unyielding dedication to global nuclear security."

– Lord Des Browne
Vice Chairman, Nuclear Threat Initiative
October 20, 2014
Press Releases

Mixed Results in U.S. TMD Tests

Wade Boese

In July tests of two U.S. theater missile defense (TMD) systems, the Pentagon tallied two successes and suffered one failure. The Army's Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile struck low-altitude drone targets in two separate intercept tests, while the Navy Theater Wide (NTW) system experienced a booster failure during a flight test.

The United States, in addition to developing a national missile defense (NMD) to defend against strategic ballistic missiles, is pursuing several programs to counter non-strategic ballistic and cruise missiles. These TMD systems are aimed at protecting U.S. military forces in the field and at sea, as well as U.S. allies, from regional missile attacks.

On July 22 and 28, the PAC-3 system tracked and destroyed low-altitude drone targets acting as surrogates for cruise missiles. The tests marked the fourth and fifth consecutive intercepts by the Patriot system, which is a "hit-to-kill" system requiring a collision with the target to destroy it. The first successful intercept, which was not a test objective, occurred March 15, 1999, with two successful tests following on September 16, 1999, and February 5, 2000.

Originally designed as an air defense missile, the Patriot system evolved into a missile defense system after being pressed into service during the 1991 Persian Gulf War to help defend against Iraqi Scud missiles. The Patriot's record against the Scud is disputed but is now recognized as being significantly less successful than initially touted. The latest version of the Patriot is intended to intercept short- to medium-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and aircraft within the atmosphere.

Eleven more PAC-3 missiles will be tested against "various classes of targets," according to the Pentagon, with the next test tentatively scheduled for September 21. Pentagon plans call for completing the flight tests by next fall.

 

Navy Theater Wide

In its second flight test, which was conducted July 14, the NTW system's SM-3 missile failed to achieve separation between its second- and third-stage boosters. The test was the first involving the third-stage booster, which will carry a kinetic warhead designed for exoatmospheric collisions with missile warheads. The failed test did not involve a target.

NTW's first flight test was designed to test the first two stages of the system's booster. That test took place September 24, 1999, and was successful, according to the Pentagon.

NTW is a ship-launched system building upon the Aegis combat system, which employs a high-powered radar capable of conducting simultaneous multiple missile tracking and guidance operations. Intended to counter medium- and long-range theater ballistic missiles, the NTW system, when completed, will also provide a capability to "effect ascent phase intercepts" if deployed near a missile launch site, according to the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization. A Navy spokesman said ascent phase describes the time from rocket motor burnout to apogee, but does not include the boost phase.

Many congressional critics of the Clinton administration's proposed limited NMD view a sea-based option for boost-phase intercepts as integral to a more robust national missile defense. Secretary of Defense William Cohen and other Pentagon officials contend that a boost-phase capability will not be ready for at least 10 years. The Navy Theater Wide system falls within the guidelines for permitted missile defenses set forth in a 1997 protocol to the ABM Treaty that differentiates permitted theater missile defenses from prohibited strategic missile defenses.

Navy officials are still trying to determine what went wrong in the July 14 test and hope to complete their investigation by early September. The Navy spokesman said it is unclear whether the next test, not yet scheduled, will try to repeat the last test's objective or proceed as planned to the next testing objective. Pentagon plans originally scheduled the first intercept attempt to occur after the next test.

U.S. Remains World's Top Arms Supplier

Wade Boese

In the post-Persian Gulf War arms market, the United States, according to data in an authoritative arms trade report, stands unrivaled as the top arms supplier to the world, including to developing nations. Dated August 18, the annual Congressional Research Service (CRS) report revealed that the 1999 total of $30.2 billion in global arms deals marked the second year of growth for weapons sales after a 1997 low. The United States announced more than $3.5 billion in new arms deals over the course of roughly two weeks in July.

Over an eight-year period starting in 1992, the world's nations signed more than $265 billion (all figures in constant U.S. dollars) in arms deals, according to the CRS report, Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 1992-1999. The United States accounted for $114 billion of the agreements, far exceeding the $41.1 billion sold by France, the second leading arms seller. Russia, which no longer grants deep discounts on arms sales as it did during the Soviet period, ranked third with $33.6 billion in agreements for the entire period.

Richard Grimmett, author of the report, described the 1999 market as one of continuing "intense competition" among suppliers. Yet the United States accounted for more than one-third of new deals with $11.7 billion in sales, while the runner-up, Russia, totaled less than half of that amount with $4.8 billion in agreements. Moscow's total, bolstered by a sale of 40-60 advanced Su-30 multi-role fighter aircraft to China, marked the first rise in Russia's arms sales since a steady decline from an $8.2 billion high in 1995.

While worldwide arms agreements rose between 1998 and 1999, weapons deliveries declined by $2.4 billion to roughly $34 billion. However, U.S. arms deliveries, which include Pentagon and commercial deliveries, increased by more than $1 billion to total $18.3 billion, equaling more than half of all arms shipments in 1999. The high U.S. total reflected the continued implementation of arms deals concluded in the wake of the Persian Gulf War, which not only awakened Near Eastern countries to potential threats but also served as a showcase for U.S. weaponry.

Buyers in the developing world—identified by Grimmett as all countries except the United States, Russia, European countries, Canada, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand—signed deals for $20.5 billion in 1999, accounting for more than two-thirds of the global total. For the second consecutive year, Washington concluded the largest share of these deals with a $8 billion total. Though major sales to key U.S. arms clients in the Near East helped push up the U.S. sum, Grimmett noted that sales of spare parts, upgrades to existing weapons, munitions, and support services made up a "very significant part."

Russia ranked second in deals with developing nations, totaling $4.1 billion in agreements. With Iran experiencing economic difficulties and Iraq under a UN arms embargo, Russia is actively marketing its weapons in search of hard currency, though some potential arms buyers, according to Grimmett, question whether Russia can serve as a reliable supplier of spare parts and support services. China and India remain Russia's "principal clients."

Weapons deliveries to the developing world in 1999 amounted to $22.6 billion. For the eighth straight year, the United States led all suppliers, accounting for half of the transfer total. U.S. allies Britain and France tallied $3.9 billion and $2.2 billion, respectively, to rank second and third.

Among developing nation recipients, South Africa, which recently launched a military modernization program, signed the most deals in 1999, totaling $3.3 billion. Egypt, a major buyer of U.S. arms since its 1979 peace treaty with Israel, ranked second in new deals with a sum of $2.6 billion, while Israel followed closely behind with agreements worth $2.3 billion. Leading the entire eight-year period, Saudi Arabia, which has imported some $66 billion in weapons since the Persian Gulf War, signed contracts valued at $28.9 billion.

Looking to the future, Grimmett projected that major arms purchases will likely be made by "more affluent developing countries," such as the United Arab Emirates, while remaining sales will be based on supporting or upgrading previously sold weapons. Limited resources on the part of developing nations and the need for cash by many weapons sellers "places constraints on significant expansion of the arms trade," Grimmett wrote.

 

Over $3.5 Billion in About Two Weeks

Between July 12 and 24, the Pentagon reported to Congress $2.8 billion in potential new U.S. arms sales with 14 countries, raising the total for Pentagon-negotiated arms deals in 2000 to at least $5 billion. Lockheed Martin, maker of the F-16 fighter aircraft, also announced in July the sale of 20 F-16 fighter aircraft apiece to both Singapore and South Korea, while Thailand, which dropped a buy of F/A-18 fighters in 1998 for economic reasons, agreed in July to purchase 16 F-16 aircraft. The company did not release a value for the Singapore deal, but the South Korea sale totaled $700 million and Thailand's purchase will cost $133 million.

U.S. arms customers can purchase weapons either through direct commercial sales with U.S. companies or through the Pentagon's Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. The U.S. government, in recent years, has typically authorized some $20 billion every year in commercial contracts, which are good for four years, though not all result in completed deals.

Under the 1976 Arms Export Control Act, Congress must be notified of all arms deals, both commercial and FMS, that equal or exceed $14 million. If it passes a joint resolution of disapproval within 30 days (15 in the case of NATO members, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand), Congress can block the sale. Congress has never voided a sale after being formally notified.

Agreements with three countries in the Near East—Egypt, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia—accounted for more than half of the July deals recently reported by the Pentagon. Egypt led with $882 million in possible deals, while Saudi Arabia ranked second with a proposed buy of 500 AIM-120C advanced medium range air-to-air missiles valued at $475 million. Both buyers' potential purchases are geared toward upgrading or arming weapons previously supplied by the United States.

U.S. Revises Computer Export Control Regulations

Seth Brugger

The White House announced plans August 3 that revise U.S. high-performance computer (HPC) export controls. The changes more than double the processing speed of computers available for export to military end users in so-called Tier 3 countries and eliminate the distinction between civilian and military end users in that tier. Commenting on the new regulations, Vice President Al Gore said they will improve the effectiveness of U.S. export controls and increase the ability of U.S. high-tech firms to compete globally.

U.S. HPC export control regulations divide recipient states into four tiers. Tier 1 countries include Western European nations and other U.S. allies that are subject to very little control. Tier 2 is comprised of Slovenia, South Korea, South and Central American nations, and most states in Africa and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. U.S. companies only need licenses to export very high-level computer systems to these countries. Tier 3 is subject to stricter controls, encompassing countries of proliferation concern, such as India, Pakistan, China, former Soviet states, and Middle Eastern nations. The United States maintains a virtual embargo on HPC exports to Tier 4 countries, which include Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria.

The latest modifications mark the Clinton administration's fifth change to HPC export controls since it began reviewing them in 1993. Since 1998, the reviews have been conducted about every six months, reflecting the fast-changing pace of computer technology.

The newest revisions modify computer performance levels, measured in millions of theoretical operations per second (MTOPS), that determine licensing requirements for HPC exports to Tier 2, 3, and 4 countries. Exports above certain levels require licenses subject to a national security review process managed by the Commerce Department. The administration's latest modifications increase the licensing threshold for Tier 2 countries from 33,000 MTOPS to 45,000 MTOPS. According to the Intel Corporation, a Pentium III processor, which is commonly found in personal computers, has processing speeds ranging from about 930 MTOPS to about 2,630 MTOPS.

The changes also move Argentina from Tier 2 to Tier 1 and Estonia from Tier 3 to Tier 2.

In February, the administration announced revisions that changed the threshold level for Tier 3 countries to 20,000 MTOPS for civilian end users and 12,500 MTOPS for military end users. (See ACT, March 2000.) This decision took effect in August. With its most recent announcement, the administration revised these levels again—to 28,000 MTOPS for all end users. This revision more than doubles the processing speed of computers allowed for export to Tier 3 military end users. It also eliminates the difference between civilian and military end users, a practice formally in place since 1995. The distinction was dropped because advances in computer technology have made gaining access to computer processors with this MTOPS level relatively easy.

Some of the latest changes require congressional approval and will therefore not take effect immediately. According to the White House, the administration will complete another review of HPC export controls in November. Maureen Tucker, a director for non-proliferation and export controls at the National Security Council, explained that the "national security agencies are reviewing various approaches for a new control methodology and that will be one of the items we will examine in the next review cycle."

U.S. Explores North Korean Offer to Terminate Missile Program

In Exchange for Satellite Launch Aid

Alex Wagner

Washington and Moscow are taking seriously an offer North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il made to Russian President Vladimir Putin in July to terminate Pyongyang’s testing, development, and production of long-range ballistic missiles in exchange for international assistance with satellite launches. There has been confusion as to whether Kim made the offer in good faith since August 14, when South Korean media reported that Kim said he had been joking when he made the suggestion to Putin.

The United States sent Ambassador Wendy Sherman to Moscow August 28 to discuss North Korea’s missile program and Kim’s apparent offer. Sherman met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov and Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Mamedov. A State Department official said that the two sides had “good discussions.” The United States and Russia agree that it is “important to explore” North Korea’s offer, and for now, Washington is “taking it seriously,” according to the official.

Putin had made the first-ever visit of a Soviet or Russian leader to Pyongyang on July 19, stopping en route to Okinawa, Japan, for a meeting of the Group of Eight (G-8) industrialized nations. After a two-hour meeting, Putin told the Russian news agency Interfax that “North Korea on the whole is ready to use exclusively other nations’ rocket technologies if it receives rocket boosters for peaceful space exploration.”

Initially, the precise conditions of the proposal were unclear, and U.S. officials were concerned that North Korea wanted to import a booster-rocket capability, which could be used to launch weapons as well as satellites. The potential threat of North Korean ICBMs is one of Washington’s primary justifications for pursuing deployment of a limited national missile defense system. Russia has vehemently opposed the deployment of such a system, which would require amending the 1972 ABM Treaty, and has rejected the idea that North Korea presents a threat.

State Department spokesmen Adam Ereli told reporters July 20 that the United States was “very interested” in North Korea’s reported proposal, as long as it was done by “other countries, using launch services from existing launch providers under strict technology safeguards.”

On July 22, Putin presented an extensive account of his discussions with Kim Jong-Il to the heads of state at the G-8 summit. In a press conference later that day, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov specified that the missile deal was “not a matter of launching from North Korean territory, but from the territory of other countries.”

The following week, at the July 28 Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum in Bangkok, Thailand, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright attempted to clarify the details of the Putin announcement with North Korean Foreign Minister Paek Nam Sun—the highest level U.S.-North Korean meeting to date. In describing her talks with Paek as “a substantively modest but symbolically historic step away from the sterility and hostility of the past,” Albright admitted that she was “not able to glean” any further details about the missile offer from her North Korean counterpart.

The Washington Post reported in an August 3 article that in an exchange of “confidential letters” following the Putin-Kim meeting, North Korea had reaffirmed its offer to end its missile program and suggested that “concerned countries” pay for two or three satellite launches per year.

However, at an August 13 luncheon in Pyongyang, Kim reportedly informed an audience of 46 South Korean publishers and broadcasters that his missile proposal to Putin was merely meant “in humor, while talking about science and state-of-the-art technologies,” according to the Korea Times. English excerpts from the lunch published in the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo quoted Kim as saying, “I told Russian President Putin that we will stop developing rockets when the United States comes forward and launches our satellites.”

Sherman will discuss the issue further with South Korea and Japan when she represents the United States in Seoul at a September 1 meeting of the Trilateral Coordination and Oversight Group, which was set up for the three countries to coordinate policy on North Korea.

Russia Reduces CFE-Limited Weapons in Georgia

Wade Boese

Starting to fulfill a November 1999 pledge to reduce its weaponry and to close two military bases in Georgia, Russia loaded a train with weapons and military equipment for shipment out of Georgia on August 4. The Russian weapons relocation may help lessen Moscow's current non-compliance with specific Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty "flank" limits that cap Russian arms levels in its Northern and Southern border regions. Russia's total military holdings are below overall CFE limits.

Last November, the 30 states party to the CFE Treaty—which limits the number of tanks, artillery, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), combat aircraft, and attack helicopters that states-parties can hold between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ural Mountains—agreed to overhaul the treaty to reflect the post-Cold War European security environment. (See ACT, November 1999.) The November 19 "adaptation agreement" replaced the original treaty's two equal bloc limits for NATO and the now-defunct Warsaw Pact with a system of individual national limits. The adaptation agreement needs to be ratified by all CFE parties before the new structure and limits can enter into force.

In conjunction with the adaptation agreement, the CFE parties adopted a Final Act, which included a number of political, not legally binding, commitments by several countries. Russia pledged to reduce its ground treaty-limited equipment in Georgia to a maximum level of 153 tanks, 241 ACVs, and 140 artillery pieces by the end of 2000. In addition, Moscow committed to closing two of its four military bases in Georgia by July 1, 2001.

At a July information exchange this year, Russia declared a total of 141 tanks, 482 ACVs, and 166 artillery pieces stationed in Georgia. Meeting the lower levels and closing the two bases, according to a Georgian official, is expected to total some 14 or 15 trainloads of weapons and equipment. Once Russia's holdings comply with the limits pledged in the Final Act, Moscow will not be obligated to ship additional weaponry out of Georgia; therefore, not all of the weapons located at the two bases being disbanded will necessarily leave Georgia.

Although Georgia and Russia have yet to settle on the total cost of the operation or how to divide up the amount, the United States has authorized up to $10 million to assist the effort. On July 14, at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Britain recommended creation of a voluntary fund for helping Russia complete the withdrawal and pledged approximately $148,000. The OSCE formally established the fund on August 23, and other countries have expressed interest in contributing.

The ultimate destination of equipment shipped out of Georgia is unclear at this time. Georgia is located in the so-called CFE flank zone, which caps the total amount of ground weaponry that can be deployed in the northern and southern flanks of Europe. The zone encompasses 10 countries entirely and portions of Russia and Ukraine.

Under a May 1996 agreement, the limits applied to Russia's flank zone were increased (to 1,800 tanks, 3,700 ACVs, and 2,400 artillery) while Russia's original CFE flank limits (1,300 tanks, 1,380 ACVs, and 1,680 artillery) were applied to a smaller region within the flank zone. Russia is exceeding the larger limits by about 800 to 1,000 ACVs, while being only slightly above its tank and artillery limits. If Russia transports its excess Georgian weaponry entirely out of the flank zone, it would help reduce this treaty noncompliance, which has been exaggerated by Russia's ongoing conflict in Chechnya.

NATO's 19 members state they will not ratify the adaptation agreement until all parties have complied with the limits it sets forth. Though Russia is provided more lenient weapons limits under the November 1999 adaptation agreement—the larger flank limits on the original zone are eliminated and the reduced zone's ACV limit is increased to 2,140—Moscow is still over the permitted ACV level. Only Belarus, which announced its action on June 9 at a meeting of CFE parties, has ratified the adaptation agreement.

While noting that a "number of technical issues remain to be resolved," the U.S. government stated it is "pleased" that Russia started the Georgian withdrawal process. Russia has made little progress in similar vows in the Final Act to withdraw or destroy all its CFE-limited arms, totaling some 350 to 375 weapons, in Moldova, which does not want Russian equipment stationed on its territory. Russia pledged to complete this task by the end of 2001.

U.S.-North Korea Missile, Terrorism Talks Resume; North Korea Admits to Exporting Rocket Technology

Alex Wagner

The United States and North Korea resumed missile negotiations in July and terrorism talks in August as legislation was introduced in Congress to reimpose sanctions on Pyongyang. Following the talks—neither of which made any breakthroughs—North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il reportedly said that his country has been exporting missiles abroad, underlining assertions made by U.S. intelligence.

Kim's remarks were made during an August 13 luncheon with South Korean media executives at which he acknowledged that his country exports missiles to Iran and Syria in return for hard currency, according to South Korean press reports. A recent CIA report to Congress highlighted North Korea as the principal exporter of missile equipment and assistance to Syria and as one of the most active suppliers of ballistic missile-related goods, technology, and expertise to Iran.

North Korean export activities were taken up July 10-12 by Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation Robert Einhorn and Jang Chang Chon, head of North Korea's bureau on U.S. affairs. Their meeting, held in Kuala Lumpur, marked the fifth round of bilateral missile talks. At a July 12 press briefing, Einhorn said the meeting covered developments since the last round of talks in March 1999 and U.S. proposals to end North Korea's missile exports and indigenous capabilities. Einhorn specified that in return for addressing U.S. concerns, the United States is "prepared to move step by step to full economic normalization."

Einhorn characterized the talks as "very useful" and said that he hopes to meet again with the North Koreans in the near future. However, on July 12, Jang "clarified" that North Korea would only continue the talks if the United States compensated Pyongyang "for the political and economic losses to be incurred in case we suspend our missile program." During the meeting, the United States had once again rejected North Korea's long-standing demand for $1 billion per year in return for the cessation of missile exports. "North Korea should not be receiving cash compensation for stopping what it shouldn't be doing in the first place," Einhorn said.

Following the talks, on July 13, Chairman of the House International Relations Committee Benjamin Gilman (R-NY) introduced the North Korean Nonproliferation Act of 2000. The proposed legislation would require the president to reimpose sanctions on North Korea that were eased in June unless the president certifies that Pyongyang has not tested or proliferated missiles or missile technology. (See ACT, July/August 2000.)

Despite the recent easing of sanctions, some sanctions remain in place, including those derived from North Korea's classification as a state sponsoring terrorism. The second round of bilateral talks designed to discuss steps that North Korea must take to shed this classification were held August 9-10 in Pyongyang after a break since March.

Led by U.S. envoy for counterterrorism Ambassador Michael Sheehan and North Korean Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kim Gye Gwan, the talks were not able to reach a resolution. In return for removing North Korea from the list of states that sponsor terrorism, the United States wants North Korea to extradite members of the Japanese Red Army terrorist group and publicly condemn terrorism.

During his August meeting with South Korean media executives, Kim Jong-Il reportedly said that removal from the terrorist list is a precondition for resuming diplomatic relations with Washington. If that occurs, Kim told the executives that he would be willing to immediately establish full diplomatic ties, according to the Korea Herald.

Pakistan Clarifies Nuclear Export Control Guidelines

Alex Wagner and Seth Brugger

Pakistan's Ministry of Commerce issued a "clarification" on July 26 retracting a so-called public notice published two days earlier that had detailed guidelines for exporting nuclear-related items. The notice, published in local newspapers, listed procedures for how to obtain a "no objection certificate" from the Pakistani Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), which is necessary to export certain nuclear items. The public notice also included an application form for the certificate and listed the nuclear materials and equipment that require such a certificate.

The clarification said that procedures for exporting nuclear-related materials and equipment were still "under consideration" and would be made public in "due course," according to an August 4 Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement. A Ministry of Commerce press release further explained that the procedures were being drawn up to "inform the public that nuclear substances and related equipment cannot be exported from Pakistan, with the exception of those allowed by the PAEC."

The Foreign Ministry statement also highlighted Pakistan's "impeccable" export control record. It maintained that Pakistan's export control procedures are "vigorously applied" and that "unauthorized transfer of sensitive materials from Pakistan does not arise." It also stressed that "Pakistan is unilaterally and unequivocally committed not to export any sensitive materials, equipment and technologies to any other country." In addition, the ministry said that Pakistan is "considering further procedures to strengthen its export controls" with the United States. The last U.S.-Pakistani meeting that discussed this subject was held in June. (See ACT, July/August 2000.)

Pakistani nuclear export policy is governed by three Statutory Regulatory Orders (SRO) issued in July 1998, February 1999, and August 1999. The July 1998 SRO completely prohibits the export of fissionable material. The other two SROs require the PAEC to issue a "no objection certificate" for the export of nuclear "substances," radioactive material, or nuclear energy-related equipment, according to the Ministry of Commerce. Other "substances" listed in a 1984 ordinance also require such a certificate. Since the nuclear materials listed in the public notice reportedly included plutonium, enriched uranium, and heavy water—all materials used in nuclear weapons manufacturing—the public notice seems to have conflicted with the July 1998 SRO.

The U.S. State Department downplayed the public notice in an August 4 statement saying the notice appeared only to be "regulations" that are "drawn from international control lists." The statement added that the regulations do not appear to authorize or solicit the sale of nuclear materials and that Pakistan has been engaged in talks with the United States and other countries regarding its export controls. The statement welcomed the regulations "as an important further step in that direction."

Israel Halts Chinese Phalcon Deal

Wade Boese

Aiming to end a prolonged public dispute with Washington, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak told President Bill Clinton on July 11, the first day of a U.S.-brokered Middle East peace summit, that Israel would not complete a 1996 deal that would have given China its first advanced airborne early-warning (AEW) capability. Although upsetting China, the Israeli cancellation averted U.S. congressional threats to withhold aid to Israel if the AEW deal went forward. Washington and Tel Aviv are now holding high-level talks on strengthening their "strategic relationship" and avoiding similar future conflicts.

The United States went public last fall with its long-held opposition to the estimated $1 billion deal for four Phalcon radar systems when the first Russian-supplied plane destined for China arrived in Israel to be outfitted with the system. Designed to provide simultaneous long-range tracking of multiple air and surface targets, the Phalcon radar system, according to U.S. government officials, could impact the Taiwan Strait military balance in China's favor.

Citing the "need to help intimate relations" with the United States during and after the summit, Israel, the largest recipient of U.S. foreign assistance, publicly announced on July 12 that it would stop implementation of the Phalcon deal. The announcement emphasized that Israel considered itself to be "together with the United States in the midst of an effort to achieve historic decisions which are related to [Israel's] vital interests." While the summit ended July 25 without a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, reported Israeli expectations are that if a future peace deal is concluded with the Palestinians or Syria, the United States will provide significant military and financial assistance to Israel.

In announcing the cancellation, Israeli spokesman Gadi Baltiansky stated Israel would "continue to look for ways to implement the [Phalcon] deal" if circumstances changed. However, U.S. congressional and administration sources, as well as an Israeli official with close knowledge of the issue, said the deal is off. The Israeli official noted that "no one" expects circumstances to change in the short or medium term.

Barak resisted U.S. calls earlier this year, even in personal meetings with Clinton and Defense Secretary William Cohen, to void the sale. (See ACT, May 2000.) Describing the final decision as "difficult," the Israeli official pointed to a combination of Cohen's April 3 visit, when he forcefully voiced U.S. concerns, and rising opposition by U.S. Congress members, including long-time Israel supporters, as turning points in Israeli thinking on the issue.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) and four other senior senators sent a bipartisan April 6 letter to Barak expressing their "deep concerns" with Israel's military cooperation with China and warned it could negatively affect U.S.-Israeli relations. The senators implied that Israel would risk the potential "multi-billion dollar U.S. aid package" being discussed as part of a possible peace agreement with Syria if the Phalcon deal went forward.

Representative Sonny Callahan (R-AL), chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs, proposed legislation to hold back Israeli aid worth $250 million—the value of one Phalcon system—unless the Pentagon certified that the deal did not pose a threat to U.S. national security. Clinton requested a total of $2.82 billion in U.S. aid for Israel over the next fiscal year.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms (R-NC) also filed, but never officially introduced, the Callahan language on the Senate side. Helms, according to one of his spokesmen, "expected more from an ally than to provide this type of weapon system to a potential adversary." Remarks by Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh in mid-June suggesting Israel could cut imports from the United States if Washington cut aid had further raised Helms' ire.

Callahan dropped his legislation after Israeli Ambassador David Ivry informed the congressman of Israel's decision to stop the sale. Speaking to the House that day, Callahan called the cancellation a "tremendous step in the right direction." Helms' spokesman described the senator as "greatly relieved" by Israel's decision.

Barak, according to Baltiansky, expressed his "sorrow" by letter to Chinese President Jiang Zemin for Israel's cancellation of the deal and reassured him that Israel attached "great importance to her relations with China." Israel started marketing arms to China in 1979.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said July 13 that the deal should be "honored" and that no other country should interfere in Chinese relations with other states. Later that day, Cohen, who was in Beijing when Israel announced its plan, said Jiang raised the issue as one of "concern." Cohen acknowledged U.S. opposition to the sale, but denied it reflected any attempt to "contain China."

Clinton announced July 27 that the United States would conduct a "comprehensive review" to improve U.S.-Israeli relations, including the maintenance of Israel's "qualitative edge" and the modernization of the Israeli military. Although State Department officials would not comment on the talks, the first round of which took place August 7 to 9 in Washington, they reportedly included discussions of Israel vetting with the United States arms sales to specific countries—China, India, Pakistan, and Russia.

DOE Simulates Nuclear Explosion; GAO Faults Ignition Facility

Philipp C. Bleek

IN A MAJOR accomplishment for the Department of Energy's (DOE) Stockpile Stewardship Program, scientists at the nation's nuclear weapons laboratories announced in July that they had succeeded for the first time in modeling the explosion of a thermonuclear weapon in three dimensions. Soon after, the General Accounting Office (GAO) issued a report in mid-August strongly criticizing both the department and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for oversight and management failures of the controversial National Ignition Facility (NIF).

Stockpile Stewardship is a $4.5 billion per year program intended to safeguard the nation's nuclear weapons arsenal in the absence of nuclear tests. The program includes many elements, among them an advanced effort at the computer modeling of nuclear explosions, termed the Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative. Also included is the over-budget and behind-schedule National Ignition Facility, intended to use lasers to recreate the pressures and temperatures present in a nuclear explosion. DOE has termed the NIF an "essential component" of the stewardship effort, but critics have strongly questioned its relevance to the central goals of the program.

Los Alamos National Laboratory reported in late July that nuclear scientists working under the Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative had successfully modeled a thermonuclear secondary detonation in three dimensions during a 42-day simulation. The simulation, completed April 30, ran on Los Alamos' Blue Mountain supercomputer, the third-fastest in the world, with assistance from Sandia National Laboratory's Red supercomputer, currently the fastest in the world.

Last December, Livermore scientists utilized their lab's Blue Pacific supercomputer to model the behavior of a thermonuclear primary, the boosted plutonium fission bomb that provides the energy necessary to trigger a combined fission-fusion reaction in the secondary, which is responsible for most of the destructive yield of a thermonuclear weapon.

Three-dimensional modeling allows scientists to perform more realistic simulations than they could with the two-dimensional simulations previously feasible. Laboratory scientists expect to receive a new generation of more powerful supercomputers within the next five years, significantly shortening the required processing time and making successive analyses possible within a shorter time frame. Scientists require repeated analyses to effectively model the consequences of changes in the various components of a stockpiled weapon, such as ageing of the fissile material or chemical high explosive. More computing power will also facilitate higher resolution modeling.

Despite rather optimistic media coverage in the wake of the successful simulation, "virtual nuclear tests" remain a distant prospect. According to Los Alamos spokesman Jim Danneskiold, scientists "hope within a few years to be able to accurately simulate some of the physics involved in nuclear explosions."

 

GAO Criticizes NIF

The General Accounting Office issued a report August 17 that sharply criticizes DOE for "inadequate oversight" and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for "poor management" of the National Ignition Facility. Perhaps most damaging, officials associated with the program apparently told GAO that they knowingly submitted unrealistically low budget estimates to Congress in order to secure approval for the project, believing that "the value of NIF to the future of the Laboratory overshadowed potential cost concerns."

The National Ignition Facility has been plagued with a slew of problems since its inception. The most significant technical challenge has been an inability to construct optics that can withstand the lasers' anticipated intensity. Financially, the program, initially proposed at $400 million and funded by Congress at $1.1 billion in 1995, is now estimated by the Energy Department to cost about $3.3 billion, although GAO argues in its report that total costs could exceed $3.9 billion. (The latter figure includes NIF-related research that DOE chooses not to tally in the program's budget.) The GAO report also notes that the department expects completion of the necessary facilities, originally scheduled for 2002, to be delayed until 2008. And the report warns that project costs could grow even higher and completion could be delayed further, given unresolved technical issues.

DOE's fiscal year 2001 budget request includes more than $300 million for National Ignition Facility-related work, but Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson has indicated that the department will not seek additional appropriations to cover the NIF cost overruns; instead it will shift funds within the existing stockpile stewardship budget.

Given the potential for further dramatic cost overruns, Richardson's plan has fueled fears that the NIF could drain funding from other more central projects, hampering the stewardship effort. The GAO report recommends that funds not be reallocated to the NIF from the nuclear weapons program until DOE certifies that the selected cost and schedule plan "will not negatively affect the balance of the Stockpile Stewardship Program." The report also calls on Richardson to arrange for an independent review of remaining technical challenges that could "affect the project's cost and schedule risks."

In her July 28 response to the report, Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs Madelyn Creedon largely agreed with GAO's findings, but stated concern that the report "gives the impression" that DOE has "not taken appropriate action." According to the letter, the department is already meeting the review requirement with various independent analyses, most notably one from a task force chaired by John McTague, former science adviser to President Ronald Reagan.

Iran Tests

Alex Wagner

Iran announced July 15 that it had successfully conducted its second test of the Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile, demonstrating Tehran's continued interest and progress in missile development. The test comes amid continuing debate in the United States over the need to deploy a national missile defense.

Defense Secretary William Cohen stated in a July 17 press conference that the launch did "not come as a surprise" to the United States but rather confirmed the Pentagon's "anticipation" of continued progress in Iran's ballistic missile capabilities. In a 1999 report to Congress, the CIA had noted that Iran probably already had the capability to deploy a "limited number of the Shahab-3 prototype missiles in an operational mode."

While the Pentagon remains uncertain how many tests Iran would need to completely develop confidence in the Shahab-3, on July 18 spokesman Kenneth Bacon told reporters that for Iran the test was "clearly…a success" that moves it closer to having the confidence necessary for full deployment.

In early July, Iran announced the creation of five ballistic missile units under the command of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)—an elite military organization that is responsible for the country's strategic military programs. Any deployment of the Shahab-3 would be administrated by the IRGC, which is directly controlled by Iran's supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The Shahab-3 is a 53-foot long, liquid-fueled, road-mobile missile derived from both the North Korean Scud-C and No Dong-1 and constructed with significant Russian technological and material assistance. With an estimated range of 1,300 kilometers and payload of 700 kilograms, it is the pre-eminent missile in the Iranian arsenal, capable of targeting all of Israel and U.S. bases in Saudi Arabia, in addition to portions of Russia and Turkey.

The first test, conducted on July 22, 1998, was shown on Iranian state-run television and exploded 100 seconds after launch. Although Iran claimed it was a success, both U.S. government officials and regional analysts maintain that the 1998 test was a failure.

The latest test comes as the Clinton administration nears a decision on whether to proceed with the deployment of a limited national missile defense system. The development of advanced, long-range missiles by "states of concern," including Iran, has been used as the primary rationale for the system.

In February 1999, Iran's defense minister, Admiral Ali Shamkhani, announced that Iran was in the process of testing and developing motors for a Shahab-4 missile with a space-launch-vehicle capability. Derived largely from the Russian SS-4, the Shahab-4 is expected to have a range of approximately 2,000 kilometers. Cohen emphasized that he expects Iran will "continue to develop a longer-range missile range capability."

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