Russia's Secret Arms Market

By Blank, Stephen | The World and I, October 1998 | Go to article overview

Russia's Secret Arms Market


Blank, Stephen, The World and I


The perilous post-Cold War world is upon us, at a moment when the presidency is deeply weakened and American foreign policy appears all but in total disarray.

Many thought when communism collapsed that history had ended, that the world would be remade in our image. The people of Russia, so the argument went, had glimpsed the American "promised land." Supposedly, color television proved more seductive than the Communist Manifesto.

So much for "pie in the sky."

Communism might be dead, but history has returned--bringing with it a new-day holocaust in the heart of Europe and the specter of nuclear war in South Asia, not to mention countless madmen ready to get behind the wheel of a truck bomb.

Today there are many would-be challengers to American global leadership, including our new Russian friends, who never really changed their old ways. It only went from being a communist-led country to being a more fully corruption-led country. These days money will buy you virtually anything in the back streets of Russia, if you know where to look.

This month Russia-watcher Stephen Blank details what U.S. officials have kept secret: that Russian officials are busy undercutting our security interests even as they seek IMF bailout money. The implications couldn't be more deadly for all of us.

Imagine a South Asia--type nuclear arms race in the Middle East. It could happen, with Russia's troublesome help.

In Iran Russian scientists are completing the four-reactor facility at Bushehr, which Russian officials have acknowledged will be a big boon to Iran's nuclear weapons development industry. The Spurt Science and Production Center, known for its work on classified Russian space-based programs, is helping Iran develop a national communications satellite that will include an earth-monitoring capability. These prized technological components ought to supply Iran's growing missile industry, an industry being pushed forward by Russia, too.

We've spent almost eight years trying to find and destroy Iraq's chemical weapons machine. Blank says that a few months ago secret Iraqi-Russian discussions of exporting biological warfare technologies were discovered. Russia is Iraq's biggest ally in the United Nations.

Syria is another paying customer in the region.

China doesn't really need the Hughes Corporation to advance its missile capability when Russia appears all too willing to lend its old enemy a hand. It is no secret that China has enough missiles locked on American cities to wipe us out. To make things worse, Russia has sold control and guidance systems from the SS-18 and SS-19 series to China for its Dong Feng missiles and is upgrading many of China's conventional and nuclear submarines, including the Kilos it bought from Russia.

Now it turns out while Russia has been openly abetting China's military buildup, it has been secretly helping India build its Sagarika submarine-launched ballistic nuclear missile.

Unfortunately, the savage bombings in Kenya and Tanzania may be just the beginning of awful things to come. Blank's story should be a wake-up call.

DREAMS OF A SALESMAN

Russia and the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction

India's nuclear tests and Iraq's efforts to develop a capability for using weapons of mass destruction (WMD) have focused U.S. attention on the issues of weapons proliferation and Russia's role in preventing it. The dangers posed by proliferation are well known, but the motives of those who abet it elude easy analysis, since we term proliferators rogue states and irrational governments. We must understand why Russia, despite official disclaimers to the contrary, still sells these systems and technologies abroad. What accounts for the discrepancy between professed interest and actual behavior?

We often hear that Russia now follows a policy based on a truer appreciation of its national (i.

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