Posts tagged with Arms Sales

Missile Watch #4: Global Update (January – March 2009)


In March, the Sunday Times of London reported on the Taliban’s alleged acquisition of Iranian-supplied SA-14 missiles, which the Afghan insurgent group reportedly wants for a “spectacular” attack on coalition forces. The accusation reportedly came from unidentified “American intelligence sources.” According to the Sunday Times, “…coalition forces only became aware of the presence of SA14s two weeks ago when parts from two of them were discovered during an American operation in western Afghanistan.” The article provides no information on the number of SA-14s allegedly circulating in Afghanistan, their condition, or Iran’s alleged connection to them. When queried about the Sunday Times article, a US military official told the Federation of American Scientists that “[man-portable air defense systems] have been recovered in Afghanistan since 2007,” but refused to provide additional details because of “operational security concerns.”

Other types of MANPADS reportedly acquired by the Taliban and other unauthorized end-users in Afghanistan include the Chinese HN-5, photographs of which were obtained by the Washington Times in 2007, and the ubiquitous SA-7.

For information on Iraq, Sri Lanka and Somalia, click here.

FAS Obtains Report on US Arms Exports

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the FAS, the Defense Department has released its contribution to the Fiscal Year 2007 edition of the Annual Military Assistance Report required by Section 655 of the Foreign Assistance Act.

The “Section 655″ report, as it is known, contains information on five major security assistance programs: Direct Commercial Sales (DCS), International Military Education and Training (IMET), Excess Defense Articles Grant Authorizations and Deliveries (EDA), Drawdown Assistance Authorizations, and Foreign Military Sales (FMS). The section on FMS (i.e. government-to-government arms sales) is particularly valuable as it provides information on the types of items exported, not just the aggregate dollar value of the exported weapons.

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Igla missiles “available immediately” to Victor Bout, claims associate

On Thursday, famed arms merchant Victor Bout was arrested at a Thai hotel on charges of selling weapons to Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a 40-year-old insurgent group known for drug trafficking and terrorist attacks. In recent years, Bout and his affiliates have been accused of arranging illicit arms transfers in Africa, Latin America, Central Asia, and elsewhere.

The name “Victor Bout” has become synonymous with the large, clandestine arms shipments that have fueled devastating civil wars in developing countries, and the extreme difficulty of shutting down the global, ever-shifting networks that orchestrate these transfers. His arrest puts arms traffickers on notice that the days of impunity may be coming to an end.

The arrest could have significant practical implications as well, depending on the outcome of the case against Bout and the quantity and quality of information about his network acquired by authorities as a result of his arrest. If Bout is tried and convicted, and information collected along the way leads to the arrest and conviction of other key members of his global network – two big “ifs” – his arrest could indeed “mar[k] the end of the reign of one of the world’s most wanted arms traffickers,” as claimed by US Attorney Michael Garcia.

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Bush Administration Unveils New Export Control Directive

At a press briefing on Wednesday, John Rood, the Acting Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, fielded questions about the Bush Administration’s new Export Control Directive – the latest attempt to reduce delays and inefficiencies in the State Department’s export control system. If implemented properly, some of the proposals could help to address long-standing staffing shortages, jurisdictional issues, and Information Technology (IT) problems. Improvements in these areas could help to reduce licensing delays, which, in turn, could alleviate pressure on the State Department to relax export controls.
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US Arms Sales to Pakistan: New CRS Report

A new Congressional Research Service report on “U.S. Arms Sales to Pakistan” recently obtained by the FAS provides a succinct overview of recent U.S. arms sales to General Pervez Musharraf’s regime, the tumultous fifty-year history of US security assistance to Pakistan, and presidential authority to stop such sales. The release of the report coincides with a worsening political crisis in Pakistan and growing Congressional and public discontent over the United States’ multi-billion dollar military aid program for General Musharraf’s beseiged and increasingly authoritarian regime.
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Licensing Exemptions, Round Two: The Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty

At a press briefing on Monday, Assistant Secretary of State John Rood elaborated on the Bush Administration’s latest attempt to secure license-free defense exports to the UK, a contentious issue that sparked a bruising battle between the administration and House Republicans three years ago. This time the exemptions are packaged in the form of a Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty (DTCT), the stated goal of which is to “improve transatlantic defence information sharing by reducing the barriers to exchanges of defence goods, services and information between the US and UK.” By pursuing a treaty, the administration avoids another confrontation with the House, but it remains to be seen whether the Democrat-controlled Senate will tolerate what appears to be an end-run around their colleagues, especially given the administration’s apparent failure to adequately consult either chamber before negotiating the treaty.
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FAS Obtains Data on Arms Export End-use Monitoring

The FAS has obtained, via the Freedom of Information Act, a complete list of “unfavorable determinations” resulting from end-use checks of US arms exports (and export requests) performed by the State Department. The cases underscore the importance of America’s rigorous arms export control system and the danger of relaxing these controls, even on transfers to close allies.
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Defense Industry Gears Up for “Phase Two” of Arms Export Control Reform Campaign

The Defense Industry is laying the groundwork for yet another attempt to “reform” the US arms export control system. At a briefing held at the Heritage Foundation last week, Mark Esper of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) announced that the AIA is “fine tuning” Phase two of its campaign, which will, according to AIA’s newsletter, feature a “new export control law that we will draft and take to the 110th Congress next year.” Previous proposals by reform advocates have met strong resistance from Congress, but changes in congressional leadership and industry’s strategy could result in a very different outcome this time around.
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FAS Obtains a Copy of U.S. Arms Sales Report

The Arms Sales Monitoring Project has obtained, via the Freedom of Information Act, a copy of the Defense Department’s contribution to the annual “Section 655” report* on U.S. arms transfers and military assistance.

The report contains data on the five main U.S. security assistance programs: the Direct Commercial Sales Program (administered by the State Department), and the International Military Education and Training Program, Defense Drawdowns, the Excess Defense Articles Program, and the Foreign Military Sales Program (administered by the Defense Department).

While much of the data is available elsewhere, the “655 report” is unique in that it provides detailed information on the type of defense articles and services licensed through the Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) program and delivered through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Program to a particular country, not just the aggregate dollar value of these sales. The DCS and FMS sections are arranged by country (or international organization), and describe the category of defense articles/services licensed or delivered, the quantity, and the dollar value. Data on certain countries (Australia, Finland, Japan, and Taiwan), and on most missile transfers, has been redacted in the FMS section.
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Lawmakers Scold Administration Over F-16 Sale to Pakistan

At Thursday’s hearing on the sale of 36 F-16 aircraft to Pakistan, Assistant Secretary of State John Hillen endured tongue-lashings from several members of the House International Relations Committee (HIRC), who objected to the manner in which his bureau has managed the $5.1 billion arms package. Of particular concern was the administration’s unilateral decision to waive the customary 20-day pre-notification for major arms sales, which many members viewed as a deliberate attempt to circumvent the committee’s authority. The decision – and the confrontation it provoked – could have far-reaching consequences, not only for Congressional oversight of arms sales but also several key State Department initiatives.
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