Monthly Archives: June 2005

Ukraine Cruise Missile Numbers

Pavel Podvig “asked”: a while back about “some numbers I used”: regarding the Ukrainian Kh-55 cruise missiles that ended up in Iran and China.

I wrote:

… the [missile] smugglers forged documents naming Russia as the missiles’ destination. This is potentially significant because Ukraine agreed in 1999 to send a portion of its Kh-55 missiles to Russia, eventually transferring 582. (See ACT, June 2001.)

Ukraine destroyed an additional 483 missiles†apparently the balance†as of May 2001, the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) reported.

Pavel asked “where did the 582 number (of missiles transferred to Russia) come from?” He “puts”: the number at 581.

Three data points of interest:

* This “ACT story”: (written by a predecessor) places the number at 582.

* An 18 May 2001 ITAR-TASS news agency report also uses 582.

* “This statement”: from Ukraine’s FM uses 581. But it also states that Ukraine dismantled 487 under the US CTR program – “according to DTRA,”: the actual number is 483.

You’re Out of Your Element, Tommy

Tom Friedman “writes”: “Readers of this column know that I rarely write about nuclear proliferation.”

It shows.

People who know about proliferation would not write that “the solution [to proliferation] is so ridiculously obvious there isn’t much to say.”

[One could, however, anticipate such piffle from someone who “said”: the Iraq debacle was a justified response to terrorism because the US needed to “go right into the heart of the Arab world and smash something.”]

It’s great when a pundit evidently believes that we can dispense with careful study of states’ motives for going nuclear and rely on his back-of-the-envelope pseudo-analysis.

Tommy F has concluded that US can do nothing about Iran and North Korea because the policies need to be all-stick and Washington’s already whacked Tehran and Pyongyang as much as it can.

TF asserts:

bq. the real problem is that those parties with the leverage to make a diplomatic difference refuse to use it. (We have already largely isolated Iran and North Korea. There is nothing much more America can threaten, short of using force.)

Proliferation Expert has not, apparently, considered a key element of IR: discerning which combinations of incentives and disincentives shape other states’ behavior.

Of course, T-Fried doesn’t need to bother because the _Times_ will pay him to write this nonsense:

bq. North Korea’s nuclear program could be stopped tomorrow by the country that provides roughly half of North Korea’s energy and one-third of its food supplies – and that is China.
All China has to say to Kim Jong Il is: “You will shut down your nuclear weapons program and put all your reactors under international inspection, or we will turn off your lights, cut off your heat and put your whole country on a diet. Have we made ourselves clear?” … if China played hardball that way with North Korea, the proliferation threat from Pyongyang would be over.”


bq. If the European Union said to the Iranians: “You will shut down your nuclear weapons program and put all your reactors and related facilities under international inspection or you will face a total economic boycott from Europe. Which part of this sentence don’t you understand?”…that is the kind of explicit threat that would get Tehran’s attention.

One could list lots of reasons why Friedman is wrong (the Agreed Framework was largely successful, North Korea survived a serious famine, Iran has signaled a willingness to compromise with the EU3, Iran’s facilities are ALREADY under IAEA safeguards, etc.).

Perhaps, however, the most infuriating life-form on planet Friedman is the assumption that neither the Chinese nor the EU3 will compromise their own (presumed) selfish interests:

At the end of the day, the Chinese would rather live with a nuclear North Korea than risk a collapsed nonnuclear North Korea, and the Europeans would rather live with a nuclear Iran – that Europe can make all kinds of money off of – rather than risk losing Iran’s business to prevent it from going nuclear.


Are the Europeans and Chinese behaving cynically? Of course, these are the very countries constantly complaining about U.S. “hegemony,” and calling for a “multipolar world.” Yet the only thing they are really interested in being a pole for is to oppose the U.S. – not to actually do something hard themselves to stabilize the global system.

So the situation is hopeless because the EU and Chinese are too cynical to threaten the Iranian and North Korean economies. How sophisticated.

Just more evidence that those who supported the Iraq fiasco really need to STFU, stop lecturing the rest of us about foreign policy, sit in a corner, and think about what they did.

Libya/Syria/Bolton Housecleaning

Some relevant points on Syria and Libya’s suspected WMD programs that I’ve been meaning to post for a while.


I “posted”: a while back about Bolton’s accusations that Libya was in violation of the BWC. This name-calling strategy was proven pretty much bankrupt when Libya was found to lack such a program.

It _is_ true, as an astute reader pointed out in response to “this post”:, that the “Robb-Silberman report”: mentions some possible loose ends concerning Tripoli’s BW efforts.

But after “looking into”: the report’s Libya conclusions, the evidence for a BW program still seems pretty weak.

I wrote:

The commission did not offer any evidence that Libya had a biological weapons program. Indeed, the report concedes that Libya may not have had such a program, but it also asserts that Tripoli’s declarations “have failed to shed light on Tripoli’s plans and intentions for its biological program.”

Commission spokesperson Carl Kropf told Arms Control Today April 27 that there is a “discrepancy” between the information Libya has provided concerning its biological weapons efforts and previous U.S. intelligence judgments. “Specific information on this point remains classified,” he added.

It’s obviously impossible to say for sure, but the “discrepancy” appears to stem from the IC’s inability to confirm or deny “additional evidence” obtained in the late 1990s that Libya was revitalizing its BW program.

As an aside, I’d be interested in knowing who let U.S. Deputy PermRep to the UN James Cunningham “say”: in September 2003 that “Tripoli is actively developing biological and chemical weapons.” Cunningham said this as the UNSC met to announce the end of UN sanctions on Libya. The public CIA 721 reports from that time said that “Evidence suggested that Libya also sought dual-use capabilities that could be used to develop and produce BW agents.”


“A few weeks ago,”: former NSC official Flynt Leverett was asked about Bolton’s preoccupation with Syria’s nuclear program. Leverett expressed confidence in “U.S. Government representations about Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities and its Scud missile force.” But was less confident about U.S. intel regarding possible Syrian BW and nuclear weapons programs:

I do not believe the case is there on nuclear, and I don’t think there’s any evidence there of significance indicating offensive B[iological]W[eapons] capability… I guess it’s theoretically possible the Syrians have it, but I don’t know that we really have the evidence to indicate that they have it.

The nuclear stuff, people occasionally will try to say that Syria’s, you know, somehow pursuing covertly a nuclear weapons program. After the disclosure of the A.Q. Khan network, there has been a lot of speculation that Syria was somehow a customer of that network. I haven’t seen any real evidence of that, and I will just note that as recently as late last year, Mohamed ElBaradei was saying that there is no†you know, Syria cooperates with the IAEA inspection process, and that there is no evidence of any kind of illicit or covert Syrian nuclear activity.

Of course, these are blue-state, non-Fox News facts, so why pay them any heed?