Missile Watch #3: Black Market Missiles Still Common in Iraq

Despite a million dollar buyback program and hundreds of raids on illicit weapons caches, US and Iraqi forces are still finding surface-to-air missiles in insurgent stockpiles.  US military press releases and media reports reveal that, since October 2006, at least 121 such missiles have been recovered, along with 4 additional launchers and various components.  These reports suggest that insurgents still have ready access to surface-to-air missiles, including MANPADS, at least some of which are reportedly still operational.  The missiles pose an immediate threat to civilian and military aircraft in Iraq and a potential threat to aircraft in the region.

To read the rest of Missile Watch #3, click here.

India’s Nuclear Forces 2008

Mystery missile: widely reported as a future sea-launched ballistic missile, is the Shourya launch in November 2008 (right) a land-based mobile missile (left), a silo-based missile, or a hybrid?      Images: DRDO

By Hans M. Kristensen

A decade after India officially crossed the nuclear threshold and announced its intention to develop a Triad of nuclear forces based on land-, air-, and sea-based weapon systems, its operational force primarily consists of gravity bombs delivered by fighter jets. Short of the short-range Prithvi, longer-range Agni ballistic missiles have been hampered by technical problems limiting their full operational status [Update Feb. 2, 2009: “Defense sources” quoted by Times of India appear to confirm that the Agni missiles are not yet fully operational]. A true sea-based deterrent capability is still many years away.

Despite these constraints, indications are that India’s nuclear capabilities may evolve significantly in the next decade as Agni II and Agni III become operational, the long-delayed ATV nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine is delivered, and warhead production continues for these and other new systems.

Our latest estimate of India’s nuclear forces is available from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.