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.
Rep. Royce’s bill is similar in several ways to legislation introduced in April (S. 2566) by Senators Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Barak Obama (D-IL). Both bills call for “an accelerated global program to secure, remove and eliminate” MANPADS and other conventional weapons, and both authorize additional funding for programs that carry out these activities.
The bill is the latest installment in an unprecedented global counter-MANPADS campaign that began shortly after a failed attempt by al Qaeda to shoot down an Israeli airliner in November 2002. Since then, the US and like-minded states have taken important steps to strengthen controls over MANPADS transfers, reduce the theft and diversion of missiles from insecure stockpiles, and mop up missiles already on the black market. The US is also evaluating possible anti-missile systems for installation on commercial airliners or at US airports.
For more information on the MANPADS threat and the global response, see ASMP Issue Brief #1: MANPADS Proliferation.