Update: Shoulder-fired Missile Proliferation

There have been several recent reports of the acquisition and (attempted) use of shoulder-fired missiles by terrorists and insurgents. Below is a quick summary of these reports: El Salvador: Foiled Assassination Attempt The most dramatic of these reports is that of a foiled assassination attempt against Salvadoran President Tony Saca. During a 6 October interview with the Salvadoran daily El Diario de Hoy, Saca revealed details of the alleged plot, which involved two SA-7 surface-to-air missiles and a Cuban national with alleged ties to the now defunct Medellin drug cartel in Colombia. The suspect, George Nayes, was arrested on September 13th and was subsequently extradited to the United States, where he has reportedly been charged with “drug trafficking and terrorism.”

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New Article: Where the Bombs Are

B83 thermonuclear bombs at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana.                     Image © Paul Shambroom Ever wondered where all those nukes are stored? A new review published…

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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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Reaffirming the Nuclear Umbrella: Nuclear Policy on Autopilot

In condemning the North Korean nuclear test and repeating its call for a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, one of the Bush administration's first acts ironically has been to reaffirm the importance of nuclear weapons in the region. "The United States will meet the full range of our deterrent and security commitments," President Bush told Japan and South Korea after last week's test. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice strongly hinted that the commitments potentially include nuclear strikes against North Korea. But is it helpful or counterproductive at this stage to threaten North Korea with nuclear weapons?

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US Says North Korean Test Was Nuclear

In an extraordinarily brief statement, the Director of the National Intelligence Office announced that the United States has confirmed that North Korea’s large explosion last week was nuclear. How do they know and why did it take them so long to confirm?

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North Korea’s Bomb: A technical assessment [edited 16 October]

Last Sunday, North Korea apparently tested a nuclear explosive. The “apparently” is needed because the explosion was so small—by nuclear standards—that some have speculated that it may have been a large conventional explosion. What is the technical significance of the test, what does it mean, and what should we do now? There is no question that the political and security implications of the test are huge and almost entirely negative. The technical implications are more mixed; the technical significance of the test is somewhat less than meets the eye.

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Congress Appropriates $40 Million for DHS Counter-MANPADS Program

Last week President Bush signed the Fiscal Year 2007 Homeland Security Appropriations Act, which includes $40 million for the Department of Homeland Security's Counter-MANPADS Program – a multi-year initiative launched in 2003 to evaluate the feasibility of installing anti-missile systems on commercial airliners. The appropriation is nearly 10 times higher than the amount requested by the administration, and increases to $270 million the total amount appropriated for the program. Appropriators supplemented the administration’s request for the program after proponents of anti-missile systems intervened on its behalf. In February, Rep. Steve Israel called the budget request "lip service" and accused the administration of "ma[king] a decision to effectively kill the counter-MANPADS program..." A month later, Senator Barbara Boxer sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff calling the administration’s decision to reduce funding for the program “misguided and dangerous.”

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