Belgrade, KLA Move Forward on Arms Control, Disarmament

Article excerpt

THREE MONTHS AFTER the withdrawal of Yugoslav forces from the em.battled province of Kosovo, Yugoslavia has renewed its implementation of the June 1996 Agreement on Sub-Regional Arms Control and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) has been certified as having completed its demilitarization. Also in September, talks on creating a "regional balance in and around the former Yugoslavia" were resumed.

A week after the March 24 onset of NATO's 11-week bombing campaign, Belgrade formally suspended its participation in the subregional agreement, which limits the number of tanks armored combat vehicles (ACVs), artillery, combat aircraft and attack helicopters that the parties to the agreement can possess. As part of the agreement, Yugoslavia (comprised of Serbia and Montenegro), the two entities of Bosnia-Herzegovina (the Muslim-Croat federation and the Bosnian-Serb-controlled Republica Srpska) and Croatia annually exchange information on and allow inspections of their military holdings.

At a September 23-24 meeting of the parties, the first under the agreement since Belgrade's unilateral suspension, Yugoslavia agreed to complete its scheduled inspections, including those that had been postponed, by the end of the year. Belgrade will conduct a total of four inspections and will permit five on its forces.

In addition, Yugoslavia provided an updated accounting of its military holdings, which prior to the NATO bombing campaign had equaled Belgrade's ceilings for all five weapons categories (1,025 tanks, 850 ACVs, 3,750 artillery 155 combat aircraft and 53 attack helicopters). Yugoslavia reportedly claimed its largest reduction, roughly a third, in combat aircraft, while reporting almost negligible changes in holdings for tanks and ACVs and slight reductions in artillery and attack helicopters.

For its part, NATO, in a September 16 press briefing, claimed to have carried out "successful strikes" against 93 tanks, 153 armored personnel carriers, 339 military vehicles and 389 artillery and mortar sites. These figures do not appear to correspond with Yugoslavia's revised holdings reported under the subregional agreement, suggesting that NATO may have overestimated its damage inflicted on Yugoslav forces, that Yugoslavia may have held equipment in excess of its limits, that Yugoslavia may have under-reported its losses, or some combination of the three.

If Yugoslavia wants to replace lost weapons up to its ceilings, Belgrade must provide evidence of each piece of equipment destroyed before a replacement can be acquired under the subregional agreement. …