New Missile Watch Report Features WikiLeaks and Viktor Bout
Author: Monica Amarelo
|(WASHINGTON DC) -- The surprise extradition of notorious arms trafficker Viktor Bout to the United States tops the list of developments covered in Missile Watch. The former Russian intelligence officer is widely considered to be one of the most prolific arms traffickers of the last 20 years, and his trial is likely to yield important new insights into the illicit arms trade.
Man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS) also featured prominently in the hundreds of thousands of classified documents released by WikiLeaks on U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
These documents included dozens of references to alleged trafficking anduse of MANPADS by insurgents, yet they are of little value to policymakers or researchers.
Most are preliminary, unsubstantiated tactical level field reports written by individuals whose knowledge of MANPADS and arms trafficking is difficult to discern.
One report claimed the Iranian military was providing MANPADS training to the Taliban. In response to a query from FAS, an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) spokesman in Afghanistan commented on the alleged MANPADS attacks. “The Wikileaks stories were also overblown on this issue…” said the spokesperson. “…we have no credible reports of surface to air missiles shooting down our helos.”
At the same time, the reports could be extremely useful to insurgentsand arms traffickers. By alerting traffickers to U.S. government monitoring of their activities, the leaked documents could jeopardize ongoing investigations as traffickers break off contact with undercover agents, destroy documentation associated with illicit activities, or relocate their operations.
The net result may not only be impunity for traffickers and their accomplices, but also months or years of wasted effort by investigators,and hundreds of thousands of dollars in wasted government resources. For these and many other reasons, none of the documents released by Wikileaks are replicated, cited, or analyzed in Missile Watch.
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.
As the only publication dedicated to tracking the proliferation and control of MANPADS, Missile Watch plays a unique role in documenting, assessing, and contextualizing developments in the MANPADS threat and global efforts to combat it.----------
To read the full report click HERE.
To interview Matt Schroeder, please contact Monica Amarelo at 202-454-4680 or [email protected].
Matthew Schroederis the Manager of the Arms Sales Monitoring Project at the Federation of American Scientists.