AIR DEFENSE    BALLISTIC MISSILE DEFENSE    CIVIL DEFENSE

 

 

July - August 2007

AMERICAN STRATEGIC DEFENSE ASSOCIATION
P.O. Box 190, Mount Holly, Virginia 2252
Volume 37, Number 4, Jerry Strope, Editor
editor@Strategicdefense.org

“I think we’ve got to plan for the worst and hope for the best.”                    

                                            President Bush speaking of North Korea  July 6, 2006

IN THIS ISSUE

Pyongyang Really Is Disarming
Russia Scraps Arms Treaty
Missile Defense Budget Woes
What To Do About Iran
China Is a Worry
Cold War Not Over?
This Just In

If you are not a Life Member

Pyongyang Really Is Disarming

  It has been a little over one year since President Bush made the “quotable quote” above, two days after North Kore a fired off half a dozen missiles including  a long-range one that blew up within 30 seconds. Pyongyang hadn’t yet tried to test its well-advertised nuclear bomb. That fizzle came later.

  The North’s underground test fizzle in October of 2006 led to resumption of the six-nation negotiations, which resulted in a denuclearization agreement in February of this year. The first step was the shutdown of the Yongbyon reactor facility. Months went by while Kim Jong Il tried to squeeze out more in return. Finally, the shutdown occurred and was confirmed by the UN agency, IAEA, on July 15. Because of these delays and a flooding disaster in North Korea, the next session of the six-nation negotiations has been shifted to September or later.

   Severe flooding in North Korea began early in August. The reclusive communist government acknowledged the disaster on August 15, citing worsening food shortages in the already impoverished nation. The rare admission of problems by the secretive North and the speed with which it invited UN relief agencies to assess the situation suggested the gravity of the problem in a country where many people have been living on the edge of starvation.

  “We are very concerned that this flooding is very serious,” said Paul Risley, Asia spokesperson  for the World Food Program, whose officials were traveling at Pyongyang’s invitation to the affected provinces. The North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency said the heavy rains were known to have destroyed at least 800 public buildings, 540 bridges, 70 rail lines and over a thousand vehicles.

  Hardest hit were four agriculturally productive provinces in central and southern North Korea and the capital, Pyongyang, where some low-lying residential areas were inundated, according to news reports. Tens of thousands of hectares of farmland were flooded, buried under silt and washed away. One report claimed that ten percent of the nation’s arable land had been lost.

  “That will have an effect on this year’s harvest and the ability of farmers to replant those areas,” Risley said. “This will certainly have an effect on the food available this fall.”

Russia Scraps Arms Treaty

  “Lobster diplomacy” appears to have caused indigestion for Russia’s President. Vladimir Putin was all politeness in July when he feasted with President Bush in Kennebunkport, ME. Back in Moscow, Putin quickly resumed his belligerent stance toward the West. Putin has vehemently opposed the US plan to put an ABM site in Eastern Europe. His latest thrust is the formal suspension of Russian participation in the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe. The CFE treaty is rather a symbol of the end of the Cold War. It limits the troops and weaponry Russia and NATO countries can station near their common borders. The suspension means that Russia will no longer keep NATO informed of troop movements or allow inspection of its military bases.

  After the CFE Treaty was modified in 1999, not one NATO country ever even bothered to ratify it. Only Russia did. So the West can’t complain too much. The US didn’t play by the rules when it bypassed NATO and made bilateral deals with Poland and the Czech Republic to host missile defenses. Russia’s claim that the deals pose a threat to its security is nonsense. The missile defense sites wouldn’t make a dent in a Russian missile attack and, besides, it is aimed at Iran, not Russia. Nonetheless, Russia deserves more respect from the US. After all, the two have hundreds of missiles aimed at each other on hair-trigger alert.

Missile Defense Budget Woes

  The confrontation with Russia over the Eastern European missile defense sites has generated some interest in the status of the National System. One magazine article was titled: Reagan’s ‘Star Wars’ Has Arrived (Sort Of). Another said: We Need Missile Defense Now and worried that “Democrat’s cuts would set back US progress.” Actually, very few funding acts have passed the Congress and the President has threatened to veto those that get to his desk. The budget request for missile defense is about $9 billion, about the same as last year. It would be no surprise if the request got bruised a bit in the political brawl. 

What To Do About Iran

  The talking standoff between Iran and the UN has continued during the summer months. There is some indication that Iran is lavishing its attentions on the IAEA rather than the Security Council since the IAEA seems less hardline. For example, on July 30, UN inspectors from IAEA visited a nuclear reactor being built in central Iran. Iran has blocked access to the reactor site since the UN Security Council imposed limited sanctions in April. Iran agreed to the inspection after a meeting between IAEA Deputy Director-General Olli Heinonen and a senior Iranian envoy. An IAEA official confirmed that agency experts had visited the site. He said they were given full access and encountered no obstacles from Iranian officials.

  From the US viewpoint, relations with Iran are tense not only because of Iran’s push toward nuclear weapons but also because of Iran’s intervention in Iraq by aiding al-Qaida insurgence in Iraq and providing deadly roadside bombs to be used against US troops. ABC News has reported that President Bush has instructed the CIA to start a nonlethal, covert operation to destabilize the Iranian government. (One wonders how such instructions, if they occurred, got leaked to the media.) Quoting current and former intelligence officials, the report said the campaign involves spreading disinformation and propaganda, as well as interfering in Iran’s financial transactions.

  Iran has long accused the US of attempting to undermine its regime by funding ethnic separatists. “Everybody in the region knows that there is a proxy war already afoot,” with the US supporting Iranian opposition groups, said Vali Nasr of the Council on Foreign Relations. Analysts said the approval of covert action means that the Bush administration, at least for now, has ruled out any military action to stop Iran’s nuclear program.

  The Bush administration also is said to be about to classify Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a “terrorist organization”. This move is in response to the Guards’ role in terrorist attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as in Iran’s nuclear program. Listing the Guard as a terrorist group will allow the US to freeze or block bank accounts and business transactions involving the Guard Corps, which is said to control a large part of the Iranian economic system. The National Council of Resistance of Iran, the exile opposition movement that revealed the existence of Iran’s secret nuclear program in 2002, has tracked the expansion of the Guards’ economic operations. 

  “The country’s economy and politics is now under the command of veteran Guards’ commanders and senior officials of the security and intelligence apparatus,” it concludes. Designation of the Guard Corps as a terrorist group will be more than symbolic if European nations like France and Germany take actions to eliminate trade with the Guards. The proposed designation does raise an interesting issue. The Revolutionary Guard Corps is the elite 125,000-strong element of Iran’s military forces. All previous designees have been individuals or “stateless groups.”

China Is a Worry

 Last January China successfully tested an anti-satellite weapon and we reported it without much comment as did the mass media. Now, Angelo M. Codevilla writes a word of caution. After obtaining permission to reprint from the American Spectator, we present on page 5 his sobering comment. Dr. Codevilla is professor of international relations at Boston University and a well-regarded military analyst.

  We should also emphasize that China’s military modernization is being watched closely by the Pentagon. “They clearly are making a significant investment in their military forces and in both strategic and tactical modernization,”Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said. Beijing announced in March an 18 percent increase in the annual military budget, a continuation of 15 years of double-digit increases. The reason, said Mr. Gates, is not clear because of Chinese secrecy.

Cold War Not Over?

  It is not just the Chinese but also Russia that is expanding and modernizing its military. The Bush administration told Congress in late August that US nuclear weapons and the infrastructure to support them will be needed for the foreseeable future for purposes of deterrence. “We’re going to need nuclear weapons for a while and we’re going to need to make them safer and more secure,” said Stephen Henry, assistant secretary of defense, of the report, “National Security and Nuclear Weapons: Maintaining Deterrence for the 21st Century”.  The report states that “the future security environment is very uncertain and some trends are not favorable. Rogue states either have or seek weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, and the risk of future proliferation cannot be ignored. The future direction that any number of states may take, including some established nuclear powers with aggressive nuclear force modernization programs, could have a dramatic effect on US security and the security of our allies.” Mr. Henry mentioned both Russia and China as “established nuclear powers” referred to in the report and also said  that the US is worried that al-Qeada or other terrorists will obtain nuclear or nuclear material from rogue states and that US nuclear weapons can be used to deter those states from supplying terrorists with such material. Such states would be held accountable if their material were used in attacks on the US.

  The Defense Department is developing a “Reliable Replacement Warhead “ a newer, safer and more reliable warhead that will use nuclear material from existing weapons and be less expensive to maintain. The report says without the replacement warhead the ability of the US to maintain its nuclear deterrent over the long term will be in question.

  Mr. Henry said the US is committed to reducing nuclear stockpiles but must maintain capabilities to assure security over the long term.                         

This Just In

  On Labor Day has come a report from Assistant Secretary of State Chris Hill that North Korea has agreed to disclose all of its nuclear activities and disable its nuclear programs by the end of 2007. It appears that these actions are those called for in the February agreement but Hill said it was the first time North Korea has agreed to a timeline to end its nuclear programs. Details are to be worked out at six-nation meetings to be held shortly. What the North gets in return will be in the next Newsletter.

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