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Pakistan to receive 36 F-16 fighter jets

On Monday, the Bush administration announced a massive $5.1 billion arms package for Pakistan, the largest arms sale to the Indian subcontinent since US sanctions were suspended in 2001. The package includes 36 F-16 fighter jets, armaments, and upgrades for its existing fleet of F-16s. The announcement came five days after the administration officially notified Congress of the sales.

The deal is significant for many reasons. It will help to modernize Pakistan’s aging airforce, and help pave the way for an even larger fighter jet sale to India. The sale also has tremendous symbolic significance. In 1991, the first Bush Administration imposed various sanctions on Pakistan for its nuclear weapons program, the most high profile of which was the impounding of 28 F-16s purchased by Pakistan in the 1980’s. Pakistan lobbied hard for their release but the Bush and Clinton administrations held firm, and the planes came to symbolize the post-Cold War deterioration of US-Pakistani relations. Following the September 11th attacks, the US hastily sought to mend diplomatic fences with Pakistan, which has provided critical support in the War on Terror. The Bush administration immediately lifted the ban on military aid to India and Pakistan and gradually increased the quantity and sophistication of weapons exports to both countries. The F-16 sale, which still tops the list of weapons sought by the Pakistani government, signifies a completion of the rapprochement between the US and its erstwhile ally.
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Threat Reduction Legislation Sails through House and Senate Committees

Last week, lawmakers demonstrated their commitment to reining in the black market trade in deadly conventional weapons by forwarding two important bills to the full House and Senate. On Tuesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the Lugar-Obama Act (S. 2566) by voice vote and without amendment. The bill calls on the State Department to “carry out an accelerated global program” to secure or dispose of surplus and poorly secured man-portable air defense systems and other conventional weapons, and authorizes an additional $25 million in funding for the State Department to accomplish this mission. Two days later, the House International Relations Committee followed suit by passing, also by voice vote and without amendment, the “Shoulder-fired Missile Reduction Act of 2006″ (HR 5333), which authorizes an additional $35 million for securing and destroying poorly secured weapons and imposes sanctions on governments that knowingly transfer MANPADS to terrorists and their state sponsors. Both bills enjoy broad bipartisan support.

A summary of HR 5333 was posted on the SSP blog on May 11th. The full text of the bill and the Lugar-Obama Act is available on the ASMP’s “Bills and Laws” page.

Rep. Royce introduces legislation on shoulder fired missiles

Yesterday Rep. Edward Royce (R-CA) introduced a far-reaching bill that, if passed, would boost US efforts to curb the threat posed by Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS).

The “Shoulder-fired Missile Reduction Act of 2006” (HR 5333), which already has 13 co-sponsors from both sides of the political aisle, contains provisions that would

**Expand US stockpile security and destruction assistance programs by authorizing $15 million for these programs in fiscal year 2007 and $20 million in FY2008 (effectively doubling current funding levels);

**Punish states that knowingly transfer missiles to terrorists by cutting off U.S. arms sales and foreign aid (except humanitarian assistance); and

**Improve Congressional understanding of the MANPADS threat and the US government’s response by requiring a report that describes US and international counter-MANPADS activities, the impact of these activities on the illicit trade in MANPADS, and the availability of these weapons to terrorists and their states sponsors.
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For the Record

At a Senate hearing on the foreign aid budget on Tuesday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice underscored the importance of “…deny[ing] terrorists access to the world’s most dangerous weapons, including conventional weapons like MANPADS,” and pointed to funding increases in the President’s FY07 budget for State Department programs that “help countries counter the proliferation of dangerous weapons and materials.” While it is true that the FY07 budget request does increase funding for combating the spread of WMD, programs aimed at reducing the threat from surplus and poorly secured conventional weapons – the weapons of choice for many terrorists – actually take a (slight) hit in the President’s budget. The $8.6 million request for the State Department’s small arms/light weapons destruction fund in FY07 is $60,000 less than the program’s budget for FY06.
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Small Arms/Light Weapons Destruction Budget

The FY07 Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations is now available on the State Department’s website. The CBJ contains a detailed breakdown of the President’s budget request for foreign aid programs, including programs related to conventional arms threat reduction.

Of particular importance is the $8.6 million request for the State Department’s SA/LW destruction program. This amount is a slight decrease from last year’s budget of $8.663 million, and it falls far short of Congressional expectations. At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) hearing on February 9th, Senator Joseph Biden remarked that “$8 million doesn’t even get a blip on the screen,” a sentiment echoed by Senator Barak Obama, who called it “decimal dust.” State Department Undersecretary Robert Joseph acknowledged that his team could do more on conventional weapons reduction if it had more money, but warned against diverting funds from other valuable nonproliferation programs.
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Arms Sales Monitoring Project

My name is Matt Schroeder and I am the manager of the FAS’ Arms Sales Monitoring Project (ASMP). Since 1991, the ASMP has worked to increase transparency, accountability and restraint in the arms trade, and to end the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. To that end, we do original research on arms trade policy issues, maintain the largest free online source of data and analysis on U.S. arms trade policies and programs, and advise policymakers, the media, and civil society on arms trade issues.

I hail from Holland, Michigan (aka God’s Country) but have lived on the East Coast for nearly a decade. I spent five years in New York City, where I worked for a couple of NGOs and earned a master’s degree in international security policy from Columbia University. I moved to DC in 2002, but still consider myself a New Yorker.

I am looking forward to sharing my thoughts (and reading your reactions to my thoughts) on the critically important but oft-ignored issues surrounding the arms trade. Defense trade controls, shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, and small arms/light weapons trafficking are my current foci, but many other issues will undoubtedly come up.