Posts tagged with Arms Sales

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

Download full issue

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.

Continue Reading →

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.

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.

Continue Reading →

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.

Continue Reading →

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.

Documents obtained by FAS shed some light on Viktor Bout case, but key questions remain

By Matt Schroeder

Documents provided to the Federation of American Scientists by the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York provide additional details about the case against alleged arms trafficker Viktor Bout, but many important questions remain (publicly) unanswered. Below is a brief summary of these documents and their significance. Continue Reading →

Securing Venezuela’s Arsenals

By Matt Schroeder

FAL

The recent discovery of Swedish AT-4 anti-tank rockets sold to Venezuela in a Colombian rebel arms cache raises serious questions about Venezuela’s ability to safeguard its arsenal of modern weaponry, including dozens of advanced SA-24 shoulder-fired, surface-to-air missiles.  Given the potential threat posed by these missiles and other weapons in Venezuela’s rapidly growing arsenal, the international community should take immediate steps to identify and close the gaps in Venezuela’s stockpile security and to ensure that the end-use monitoring conducted by states that export weapons to Venezuela is sufficiently robust.

According to Colombian authorities, Swedish anti-tank rocket launchers were found in October 2008 in an arms cache allegedly linked to the FARC.[1] On July 27th, Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos asserted that “[i]n several operations in which we have recovered weapons from the FARC, we have found powerful munitions and powerful equipment, including anti-tank weapons, from a European country that sold them to Venezuela and that turned up in the hands of the FARC.”[2] Thomas Samuelsson of the Swedish firm Saab Bofors Dynamics confirmed that the AT-4 rockets were manufactured and sold to Venezuela by his firm.[3] The Venezuelan government responded harshly to Colombia’s revelation, calling it “laughable” and recalling the Venezuelan ambassador to Colombia.[4]

This is not the first time that Colombian authorities have discovered Venezuelan weapons in rebel arms caches.  In 2006, the Federation of American Scientists called attention to several reports of Venezuelan firearms acquired by the FARC, sometimes “…in lots of 50,” according to a demobilized guerrilla interviewed by Jane’s Information Group.[5] In most of these cases, it is not clear what role, if any, that Venezuelan government officials played in the diversion.  There is much speculation about the regime’s support of the FARC and its role in arms trafficking to the embattled rebel group,[6] but verifying accusations of high-level complicity by the Venezuelan government based on information in the public domain is nearly impossible and, at one level, it doesn’t matter.  The Venezuelan government is responsible for safeguarding the military’s arsenal and should be held accountable for any diverted weapons, regardless of the circumstances surrounding their diversion. The focus, therefore, should shift from the fruitless back-and-forth with Chavez over his regime’s alleged support for the FARC to identifying the specific sources of diverted weapons, bolstering Venezuelan stockpile security, and calling on states that arm Venezuela to closely monitor their exported weapons. Continue Reading →

FAS Obtains Key Report on US Arms Exports

Deliveries of arms through the Defense Department’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Program decreased by nearly a billion dollars in fiscal year 2008, according to the most recent edition of the Annual Military Assistance Report. The report, which is often referred to as the “Section 655 Report” after the section in the Foreign Assistance Act that requires it, is compiled each year by the Defense Department and the State Department. The Defense Department’s contribution to the report was acquired by the Federation of American Scientists under the Freedom of Information Act.

According to this year’s report, FMS deliveries in FY08 totaled $10,996,180,000 – nearly $1 billion less than the $11,910,160,000 delivered in FY2007.  This is surprising given the significant increase in FMS agreements in recent years.   FMS agreements jumped from $9.5 billion in FY2005 to more than $18 billion in FY2006, and nearly doubled again to $36 billion in FY2008. One possible explanation for the apparent lag is that deliveries, and particularly deliveries of big-ticket items, can take years.  If this is the case, FMS delivery totals are likely to rise sharply over the next few years.

Adam Willner contributed to this report.

Click here to read the full article

Latest Missile Plot had Little Chance of Success, but ‘Stinger Stings’ are Valuable Tools

On Wednesday, the FBI thwarted an alleged terrorist plot to shoot down a military cargo plane with a Stinger missile.  According to a criminal complaint obtained by the New York Times, four men were arrested on charges of conspiring to use “a surface-to-air missile system to destroy military aircraft at the New York Air National Guard Base located at Stewart Airport in Newburgh, New York. “ The plot also allegedly included plans for a simultaneous attack on a Bronx synagogue using an improvised explosive device containing more than 30 pounds of C-4 explosives.

The FBI operation in New York is one of several since the 1980s in which undercover US agents have thwarted  attempts to smuggle, acquire or use man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), including US-made Stinger missiles.  These plots feature conspirators that range from rank amateurs whose ability to obtain MANPADS is dubious at best to sophisticated criminals with a demonstrated ability to obtain and ship weapons to bad actors worldwide.  An example of the former is Hemant Lakhani, a British merchant born in India who was arrested in 2003 for attempting to import 200 Russian Igla missiles into the US and to sell them to individuals claiming to be members of a Somali terrorist organization.  Lakhani was so inept that undercover Russian agents ended up furnishing him with a (deactivated) SA-18 missile after he repeatedly tried and failed to obtain a missile himself.  The agents then had to reroute the missile after Lakhani arranged to have it delivered to the wrong address.
Continue Reading →

Obama Urges the Senate to Take Up Key Convention on Illicit Arms Trafficking

At a press conference in Mexico City yesterday, President Obama urged the Senate to take up the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials, which is often referred to by its Spanish acronym, CIFTA.

The Convention aims to curtail the illicit international trade in small arms by requiring member states to establish basic export controls and to cooperate with each other to stop international arms trafficking.  These controls include the establishment of effective systems for authorizing international arms transfers, identifying and preventing arms trafficking at border points, exchanging information on illicit trafficking and best practices for combating it, and providing technical assistance to countries attempting to increase their capacity to identify and thwart arms trafficking.  As stated in the preamble, “this Convention does not commit States Parties to enact legislation or regulations pertaining to firearms ownership, possession, or trade of a wholly domestic character…”

The US played an important role in drafting the Convention, and was one of the first signatories in November, 1997.  The Convention was transmitted to the Senate in June 1998 and, more than a decade later, still awaits the Senate’s advice and consent.  To date, 29 of the 34 OAS member states have ratified the Convention.  Only the US, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and St. Vincent & Grenadines have yet to take that step.

Continue Reading →