Posts by Matt Schroeder

Documents shed important light on Viktor Bout case

By Matt Schroeder

As the trial against alleged arms dealer Viktor Bout gets underway, we thought the following documents from the case might be of interest:

(1) Handwritten notes that Bout reportedly took during the meeting in Thailand. The notes include short-hand references to various weapons, including “AA” or anti-aircraft (believed to be a reference to Igla missiles), “AK-47,” “UAV” (unmanned aerial vehicle), 10,000,000 “7,62 x 54” (ammunition used in Russian Dragunov sniper rifles and PKM machine guns), RPG-7 and RPG-22 rocket launchers, and “AG-17” – presumably a reference to the AGS-17 30 mm automatic grenade launcher. Some of the notes are more cryptic, including references to 500 “60 mm”, 200 “82 mm” and 40 “120 mm.” Presumably, these are references to mortars since 60mm, 82mm and 120mm are all common calibers for mortar rounds.

(2) A print-out of an email that Bout allegedly sent to one of the DEA’s confidential sources. This email is mentioned prominently in other court documents made public shortly after Bout was arrested. Oddly, the email was reportedly sent from an address linked to an account set up by a “Victor But.” Use of an alias so close to his own name when setting up an email account intended for negotiating arms transfers seems uncharacteristically careless for Bout.

(3) Excerpts from pamphlets on Soviet-era cargo planes that Bout allegedly recommended for delivering weapons to the FARC. According to investigators, the weapons were to be air-dropped from these planes. The same delivery method was used by the orchestrators of a 1999 plot to divert to the FARC 50,000 Jordanian assault rifles intended for the Peruvian military. The traffickers managed to drop 10,000 of the rifles into FARC-controlled areas of Colombia before the government of Jordan learned of the scheme and canceled the deal. In their book, Merchant of Death, Doug Farah and Stephen Braun suggest that Bout was linked to the diversion. They claim that the plane used to deliver the rifles “…belong[ed] to one of Bout’s front companies…”

(4) One of several articles on the FARC that describes their criminal activities.

(5) A map of South America that Bout reportedly used in discussions about the locations of American radar stations.

(6) Technical documents on anti-tank missiles that Bout allegedly offered to sell to the FARC. The documents were reportedly taken from a memory stick provided to the DEA during the sting. It appears that missile on offer was the AT-4 Spigot, a wire-guided Russian missile system that has a maximum range of 2000-2500 meters and can penetrate up to 400-460 mm of armor, depending on the type of missile used.

The documents (and the above assessments) were originally posted on the Strategic Security Blog in 2009. The original post, which contains additional analysis, is available here.

Documents Obtained by FAS Shed New Light on US Arms Transfers

by Matt Schroeder

The Federation of American Scientists has acquired two previously unreleased US government reports on arms transfers, one on recent sales of US weapons and the other on arms purchased for the Afghanistan government with US military aid. Both documents were acquired under the Freedom of Information Act.

The first report, which is often referred to as the Section 36(a) report after the section in the Arms Export Control Act that requires it, contains data on, inter alia, Foreign Military Sales, transfers of Excess Defense Articles, grants and loans through the Foreign Military Financing Program, projected arms sales, Foreign Military Construction Sales, and Security Assistance Surveys (including end-use monitoring). The report contains detailed data on transfers of Major Defense Equipment in 2009 and the total value of arms transfers by country in the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2010 (1 October – 31 December 2009). Given recent unrest in the Middle East, data on recent or pending arms sales to Bahrain, Egypt, and Yemen is likely to be of particular interest.

The other document acquired by the FAS is a lengthy (137 page) list of arms procured through the Defense Department’s Afghanistan Security Forces Fund (ASFF). The millions of items listed in the report range from “drugs and surgical dressings” to M24 sniper rifles to Russian cargo aircraft. Given that many of these purchases are not recorded in the main annual reports on US arms sales, this document may be the most complete (consolidated) source of data on items acquired through the ASFF.

Missile Watch – November 2010


Missile Watch

A publication of the FAS Arms Sales Monitoring Project
Vol. 3, Issue 3
November 2010
Editor: Matt Schroeder

Contents:

Editor’s Note: Wikileaks and arms trafficking, Missile Watch sponsorship program
Global News: UN Arms Register: Venezuela was the largest importer of MANPADS in 2009
Global News: Extradition of Viktor Bout could reveal much about the illicit arms trade
Afghanistan: No evidence of Iranian MANPADS training, claims NATO official
Egypt: Another Massive Missile Cache Discovered in the Sinai
Somalia: Photos of missile confirms claims in UN report, but questions remain
United States: FAS obtains key counter-MANPADS report
Additional News & Resources
About the Authors
About Missile Watch

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Editor’s Note
The surprise extradition of notorious arms trafficker Viktor Bout to the United States tops the list of developments covered in this edition of Missile Watch. The former Russian intelligence officer is widely considered to be one of the most prolific arms traffickers of the last twenty years, and his trial is likely to yield important new insights into the illicit arms trade. Also noteworthy is the release of the Department of Homeland Security’s final report on its counter-MANPADS program. The report confirms that two anti-missile systems evaluated during the program are capable of protecting planes from MANPADS, but the $43 billion price tag may preclude their installation on more than a small number of airliners.

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Report reveals $11.7 billion in arms deliveries in 2009, but sheds little light on individual exports

By Matt Schroeder

Deliveries of arms through the Defense Department’s Foreign Military Sales Program (FMS) increased by nearly $700 million in fiscal year (FY) 2009, according to the most recent edition of the Annual Military Assistance Report. The report, which is often referred to as the “Section 655 Report,” is compiled each year by the Defense Department and the State Department. The Defense Department’s contributions to the annual report are acquired by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) through annual requests under the Freedom of Information Act. While the report is useful for tracking trends in the overall value of certain types of arms sales to specific countries, it provides very little detailed information on individual exports, or exports arranged through non-traditional US military aid programs. Changing the way the data is aggregated and presented, and expanding the report to include data on all arms exports, would make the report more useful and improve congressional and public understanding of US arms exports.

Click here to read the full article.

Missile Watch – June 2010


Missile Watch

A publication of the FAS Arms Sales Monitoring Project
Vol. 3, Issue 2
June 2010
Editor: Matt Schroeder
Contributing Author: Scoville Fellow Matt Buongiorno

Contents:

Global News: Survey of black market prices for shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles reveals large differences in missile prices
Afghanistan: No shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles in seized Afghan arms caches, confirms ISAF spokesperson
Egypt: Shoulder-fired missiles found in the Sinai were old, “in very bad condition,” says Egyptian official
Iraq: Shoulder-fired missile in video of insurgent attack could be Iranian
Iraq: Missile seized in 2008 was a 30-year-old Russian Strela-2M MANPADS, documents reveal
Iraq: At least 27 shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles seized from arms caches in Iraq since February
Lebanon: Israeli claim about Igla-S delivery to Hezbollah raises many questions
Peru: U.S. government concerned over reported missile diversion in Peru, but praises investigation
Somalia: Shoulder-fired missile attack at Mogadishu airport foiled by peace-keepers, according to UN report

Additional News & Resources

About Missile Watch

About the Authors

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New Study Examines Global Trade in Ammunition

The global trade in ammunition for small arms and light weapons is worth an estimated $4.3 billion, according to a comprehensive new study released today.

Findings from the study, which is co-authored by Matt Schroeder of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), appears as a chapter in Small Arms Survey 2010: Gangs, Groups, and Guns.

The study is part of a multi-year assessment of authorized international transfers of small arms and light weapons, their parts, accessories and ammunition. Previous findings on the international trade in firearms are available in last year’s edition of the Small Arms Survey’s annual yearbook.

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Small Arms in Iraq Vulnerable to Theft and Diversion

By Matthew Buongiorno
Scoville Fellow

Shortly after the United States invaded Iraq and disbanded its army, the Bush Administration concluded that a key to stabilizing the country was the creation of a self-sufficient and effective Iraqi Security Force (ISF). To this end, the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund (IRRF) – later succeeded by the Iraq Security Forces Fund (ISFF) – was established as a train-and-equip program charged with quickly delivering weaponry to the ISF. While the ad hoc program was successful in quickly supplying large quantities of weapons to the ISF, it lacked the stringent accountability procedures applied to other U.S. arms transfer programs and, consequently, may have failed to prevent the diversion of U.S. weapons.

Recognizing the dangers associated with poorly secured weaponry, the United States has taken several important steps to improve stockpile security and accountability procedures for U.S.-origin and U.S.-funded weapons transferred to Iraq. These steps are assessed in the latest edition of the Public Interest Report.

The article draws on documents retrieved by the Federation of American Scientists via the Freedom of Information Act. These documents, as well as additional documents not cited in the article but of relevance to the debate over security and accountability procedures in Iraq, are posted below:

▪ Compliance with Section 1228 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (FY08 NDAA)

▪ Presidential Certification of Compliance with Section 1228 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (FY08 NDAA)

▪ Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) Compliance with Section 1228 of FY08 NDAA

▪ Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Program Compliance with Section 1228 of the FY08 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

▪ Directive-Type Memorandum (DTM) 08-041 – Registration and Monitoring of Defense Articles and Services Provided to Iraq

▪ Background 1228 Policy Changes

DOD Inspector General Report SPO-2008-001 – Special Plans and Operations: Assessment of the Accountability of Arms and Ammunition Provided to the Security Forces of Iraq (Part I)

▪ DOD Inspector General Report SPO-2008-001 – Special Plans and Operations: Assessment of the Accountability of Arms and Ammunition Provided to the Security Forces of Iraq (Part II)

▪ DOD Inspector General Report SPO-2008-001 – Special Plans and Operations: Assessment of the Accountability of Arms and Ammunition Provided to the Security Forces of Iraq (Part III)

U.S. Defense Department sold more than $15 billion in arms in the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2009, report reveals

By Matt Schroeder

Arms sold by the Defense Department to foreign recipients totaled more than $15 billion in the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2009, according to a report obtained by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS). The quarterly report, which is dated February 2009 and is required by Section 36(a) of the Arms Export Control Act, indicates that defense articles and services sold through Defense Department Security Assistance programs from October through December 2008 were worth approximately $15.79 billion[1]. The United Arab Emirates was the largest buyer, accounting for $7 billion of sales. Saudi Arabia was a distant second with $1.87 billion, and Iraq was third with $947 million in sales. The remaining top ten recipients are listed in the table below. Sales to the top ten countries accounted for more than 80% of total sales, and nearly 89% of unclassified arms sales. These data show that a handful of countries continue to account – in dollar value terms – for the vast majority of arms sold through the US Defense Department.

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Missile Watch – February 2010

Missile Watch
A publication of the FAS Arms Sales Monitoring Project
Vol. 3, Issue 1
February 2010
Editor: Matt Schroeder
Contributing Author: Matt Buongiorno
Graphics: Alexis Paige

Contents:

Global Overview

Afghanistan: No recent discoveries of shoulder-fired, surface-to-air missiles in insurgent arms caches
Eritrea: UN slaps arms embargo on major missile proliferator
Iraq: Fewer public reports of seized shoulder-fired missiles in Iraq, but MANPADS still a threat
Ireland: Alleged plot to shoot down a police helicopter may have involved surface-to-air missile
Myanmar: 300 shoulder-fired missiles in insurgent arsenal, claims Thai Colonel
North Korea: North Korean arms shipment included MANPADS, Thai report confirms
Peru: Igla missiles stolen from Peruvian military arsenals, claims alleged trafficker
Spain: Failed assassination attempts underscore the risks for terrorists of relying on black market missiles
United States: Congress to receive DHS report on anti-missile systems for commercial airliners in February
United States: Documents from trial of the “Prince of Marbella” reveal little about his access to shoulder-fired missiles
United States: No new international MANPADS sales since 1999
Venezuela: U.S. receives “assurances” from Russia regarding controls on shoulder-fired missiles sold to Venezuela, but questions remain

Additional News & Resources

About Missile Watch

About the Authors

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Eight Recommendations for Improving Transparency in US Arms Transfers

Transparency is essential for effective congressional and public oversight of the arms trade, and the US government is widely (and rightly) praised for its reporting on arms exports. Yet there is also significant room for improvement. Reporting on US arms exports and international arms transfers funded or authorized by the US government is often incomplete, unclear and hampered by overly aggregated data. The Obama Administration is clearly committed to improving transparency in government. Whether this commitment will translate into meaningful improvements in data on the arms trade remains to be seen. The latest FAS issue brief provides eight recommendations for improving transparency in US arms transfers. Implementing these recommendations would correct many of the problems with current reporting practices.

Click here to download the issue brief.