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.”

Read more

Article: Nuclear Threats Then And Now

A decision to trim a tree in the Korean demilitarized zone in 1976 escalated into a threat to use nuclear weapons. After a fatal skirmish between U.S. and North…

Read more

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…

Read more

DHS updates Ready.gov…sort of.

Earlier this month, The Department of Homeland Security added two new sections to the Ready.gov website, one for people with disabilities and another for seniors. However, when you…

Read more

Is the Department of Homeland Security interested in serving the public or saving face?

We recently received a letter from the Department of Homeland Security asking us to change the graphics on our website ReallyReady.org because they believe we have infringed on their “intellectual property” because we used logos and graphics that were similar to those used on their site, which was, of course, part of the point. Today we announce that we have altered the graphics so that we can focus on the fact that the Department of Homeland Security’s emergency preparedness website ready.gov is inadequate and sometimes misleading and that they should fix it and we have explained how and why.

Read more

MANPADS for Hezbollah?

In the August 9th edition of Jane’s Defense Weekly, Deputy Editor Robin Hughes reveals alleged plans by Iran to supply Hezbollah with “a steady supply of weapons systems,” including Chinese QW-1 and its own Mithaq (or Misagh) man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS). The article cites unnamed western diplomats, who also claim that Iran agreed to provide, “at a later date,” several different types of Russian missiles, including the sophisticated SA-16. Assuming the information is accurate, the missile transfers are significant for several reasons. First, the missiles are a potential threat not only to Israeli military aircraft but also commercial airliners worldwide. Hezbollah has a long history of terrorist attacks against civilian targets. According to Georgetown Professor Daniel Byman, the organization “was perhaps the world’s most active terrorist organization,” and had a hand in several high profile attacks, including the hijacking of TWA flight 847 in 1985 and the bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires in 1994. Its involvement in such acts has waned in recent years, but there is no guarantee that it won’t resume these activities, or retransfer the missiles to terrorists with immediate designs on commercial airliners. Secondly, the transfers violate a nascent but critically important international norm against the transfer of MANPADS to non-state actors, which is codified in resolutions, declarations and agreements adopted by members of several multilateral forums. Some of these agreements explicitly ban the transfer of MANPADS to non-state actors, while others do so indirectly by limiting such transfers to “foreign governments or to agents specifically authorised to act on behalf of a government after presentation of an official EUC certified by the Government of the receiving country.”

Read more

Plutonium Reprocessing: two steps forward, one step back.

The administration has submitted a $250M request to Congress to start work on a plutonium recycling program as part of its Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, or GNEP, proposal. Trying to figure out exactly what the proposal is has been like trying to nail Jell-o to the wall. Whatever criticism is raised, DOE responds that, no, it isn’t quite that. So I was getting a good picture of what GNEP was not but could not figure out what it was.

Read more