Missiles too Dangerous to Name

On June 16, 1992 the U.S. Department of Commerce published its long-awaited list of missile projects in the Third World. The list was supposed to plant a red flag on the heads of secret missile makers by naming them, and thus deny them U.S. exports. Instead, the administration came up short by bowing to special interests.

U.S. law forbids U.S. firms to sell anything–even a pencil sharpener–to a project that they “know” is missile-related, unless they first obtain an export license. But the only way for an exporter to “know” is to read the Commerce Department list. Thus, the whole exercise depends on a comprehensive list being published, which Commerce failed to do because of pressure from Israel and other missile-building countries.

The new list is only the truncated remains of a longer draft that Commerce was poised to publish in 1991. The original 1991 draft named 38 missile projects; the 1992 list but 21. Gone are the names of all of the projects in the Middle East, home to some of the most dangerous and destabilizing missile builders in the world. The deletions mean that U.S. firms can continue to fuel Mideast missile proliferation by claiming that they do not know which projects are involved.

Israel fought the 1991 draft because it named Israel’s premier missile, the “Jericho II.” The Jericho has already flown over 800 miles in tests–far enough to bring most Arab capitals within range. When fully developed, the Jericho will be able to send a nuclear payload to Moscow or Western Europe. Israel has at least a hundred nuclear warheads for the Jericho to carry, and is working on a missile nose cone that will allow the warheads to reenter the atmosphere accurately.

The new list, which does not name the Jericho, sends Israel the wrong signal. Israeli missile makers have already diverted U.S. technology to the Jericho in violation of promises not to. Yet firms such as Israeli Military Industries, which makes the big rocket motors that power the Jericho, will still be eligible for American goods and so will South Africa. In 1989, NBC News revealed that Israel was selling Pretoria the means to make Jericho rocket motors and that the two countries were developing the missile together. In return for the Israeli help, the Jericho was being tested off the South African coast. The new list pretends that neither the Jericho nor the diversions exist.

While leaving out the Jericho, the June list names South Africa’s “Surface-to-Surface Missile Project,” which is South Africa’s half of the Jericho. In effect, Commerce is telling U.S. exporters that there is a dangerous missile project in South Africa to which they must not sell anything, but they can sell all they want to the other half of the project, which happens to be in Israel.

The new list also sends the wrong signal to Egypt, Libya and Syria. After dropping the Jericho, the administration had to drop the project names in these three countries too–all of which were on the 1991 list. It would be blatantly discriminatory for the U.S. government to name Arab but not Israeli projects. All three of these Arab states are aggressively building short- and medium-range missiles and deserve to have their projects named. But the best the administration could do was put all four countries into a broad category called the “Middle East,” into which it also put such non-threatening, non-missile states as Bahrain, Oman and Qatar. The result was to allow Arab missiles to escape censure because Israeli missiles did.

And while leaving out Syria’s short-range missiles, the list names North Korea’s “Scud Development Project,” which amounts to the same thing. North Korea is selling short-range Scuds to Syria as fast as North Korea can develop them. And while not naming Syria’s medium-range missiles, it names China’s medium-range “M Series Missiles,” which are, again, the same thing because China is selling Syria the means to make the M Series. Commerce might as well try to control a river by building a dam half way across.

The new list also drops Argentina, whose medium-range Condor II missile was included on the 1991 draft. President Carlos Menem promised to cancel the Condor, but will only move it to the Argentine space program, where it can be nurtured until some future president may decide to consider it a missile again.

The 1992 list, in fact, is a better guide to Washington lobbying than to Third World missiles. The Commerce Department had no trouble naming India’s short-range “Prithvi” missile, medium-range “Agni” missile, and long-range space launchers. It also named Pakistan’s short-range “Hatf” missiles. Neither country had the clout to hide their projects under a “South Asia” label. Brazil, China, Iran, North Korea and South Africa also had their missile projects named. All these countries have the same problem: they lack Israel’s influence in Washington.

The list also divided the administration. On one side were the officials whose job it is to stop proliferation; on the other were the country desk officers at the State Department. The country desks, whose job it is to maintain good relations with the countries on the list, did not want to see their foreign friends embarrassed. “We went back and forth for more than a year,” said one official close to the debate, “before the desks finally won.”

The result did not please the exporters. “It shows,” says one exporter, “that the President’s program lacks clear objectives. It doesn’t really achieve any foreign policy goals.”

American exporters have in fact been the loudest proponents of a better list. They say that they need to be able to tell the safe buyers from the risky ones, and don’t want to waste their time negotiating with buyers on a secret blacklist. Nor do they want to read in the newspapers that their equipment has wound up making missiles somewhere.

To be truly useful, the list would have to name buyers–by company name. Exports go to companies, not to missile projects labeled as such. Some companies, of course, are fronts that can change their names quickly, but there are others–large and well-known–that cannot.

In 1987 a Pentagon-sponsored study revealed that Technion University, the Israeli M.I.T., was helping design the Jericho II’s re-entry vehicle. Cray–America’s supercomputer giant–tried for years to sell Technion a supercomputer that would be able to do in one month missile and nuclear weapon calculations that now take years. The computer was not licensed because of the risk that it would help design the re-entry vehicle. In the future, Cray could save time and money if the U.S. government had the courage to name Technion as part of Israel’s missile network.

Some buyers’ own publications reveal their link to missiles. The Indian Institute of Science and the Indian Institute of Technology are studying such things as stresses on rocket bodies and supersonic combustion. There is even a project to study the performance of solid rocket fuel through computer modeling. Both institutes freely admit this in their own publications. Nonetheless, during the last three years Cray has tried to sell supercomputers to both of them.

In Brazil the company Embraer–an arm of the Brazilian Air Force–is in the missile-for-export business. Through its ownership in another firm called Orbita, Embraer is trying to turn Brazil’s Sonda IV space launcher into an intermediate-range nuclear-capable missile. Embraer tried for years to buy an IBM supercomputer but couldn’t get a license.

There should be little harm in naming these foreign companies. Indeed, if the U.S. government cannot list such buyers, there seems to be little point in having a list at all.

The administration is now said to be moving toward a list of company names. They would be added to the projects listed in June. But because the June list named no projects in Argentina or the Middle East, there will still be a massive gap. Government sources also say that judging from its progress so far, the administration will not be any more courageous in naming companies than it was in naming projects.

To increase the government’s resolve, and to give the exporters some guidance, we present our own list here. It contains only the minimum amount of information that the government should provide. It names only those projects that are widely known, and only those companies that have been linked to missile development by their own publications or by reliable government or press reports.

The government should either endorse our list or provide a detailed one of its own. A comprehensive official list would be a beacon to the world. Foreign governments would immediately feel the pressure to incorporate it into their own laws. And all exporters–foreign and domestic–would rely on it.

A high German official told us that his government would welcome such a list. “The more countries that agree to name names,” he said, “the less risk and rage there is.”

The result could be a lot less missile proliferation. If Saddam Hussein has taught us anything, it is that half-hearted export controls do not work. Western troops, and later U.N. inspectors, had to risk their lives to destroy what their own countries’ industries sold. It is time for the government to get serious about export controls, and to declare that stopping missile proliferation is more important than keeping other countries happy.


** Missile Projects deleted from the 1991 Commerce draft **
[No buyers were listed by the 1991 draft]
ARGENTINA: Condor I and II missiles, and Alacran rockets

Selected buyers: Aeronautics and Space Research Institute; National Space Research Commission; Air Force; Falda del Carmen base; Mar Chiquita, La Rioja Chamical, Mar del Plata and Matienzo test sites

EGYPT: Upgraded Scud and Condor II missiles

Selected buyers: Arab Organization for Industrialization; Arab-British Dynamics; Ballistic Missile Egypt; Factory 17; Sakr Factory for Developed Industries; Egyptian Armed Forces Technical Institute

IRAQ: Scud, Al-Husayn, Al-Abbas, Condor II and Tammuz missiles and Al-Abid rocket

Selected buyers: [All exports currently blocked by embargo] DOT; MIMI; Nassr State Establishment; Project 1728 (Taji); Project 395 (part of TECO); Saad 16/Al Kindi at University of Mosul (Research & Development Center); SOTI and SOTI Monsour; Ministry of Defense; TECO; Techcorps and Technical Corporation for Special Projects; ADG of Military Accounts Baghdad; Air Force; Al Anbar Space Center at Karbala; Augba Bin Nafi (composed of Al Radwan, Al Ameer and Al Amin); Badr (part of Iskandariyah); A.M. Daoud Research Center; Al Dujayl; Al Dawrah; Al Falluja (Project 073); Al Farouk; Al Habbaniyah; Al Hillal (possibly Project 96); Al Huteen; Iraqi Airways; Al Kadhesia State Equipment; Kerbala (Project 1157); Latifiyah; Mahmudiya (Project 096); Al Musayyib; Al Mutawakla Factory; Projects 124, 144/1, 144/5, 1720 and 1721; Al Qaqaa; Saddam State Establishment; Salah al Din; Saad State Establishment; Schuala (part of Fallujah); Scientific Research Council; Space and Astronomy Research Center; State Establishment for Electrical Industries; State Establishment for Oil Refining and Gas Processing; TDG Technology Development Group

ISRAEL: Jericho I and II missiles and Shavit space launcher

Selected buyers: Israel Aircraft Industries; Israel Military Industries; Israel Space Agency; Rafael; Technion University; Ashot Ashkelon Industries

LIBYA: Upgraded Scud and Al-Fatah missiles

Selected buyers: Ittisalat missile program; Military Procurement Authority; Military Industrial Organization; Technical Industrial Corporation; Technology for Oil Production; Tenowhia Air Force Training Center

SYRIA: Upgraded Scud missiles

Selected buyers: Syrian Scientific Research Center, Ministry of Defense

** Missile Projects retained on the 1992 Commerce list **
[No buyers were listed by the 1992 draft]
BRAZIL: SS-300. SS-1000 and MB/EE-series missiles, Sonda III and IV rockets and VLS space launcher

Selected buyers: Aerospace Technical Center; Institute for Space Activities; Institute for Space Research-INPE; Avibras; Aeronautics Ministry; Armed Forces Joint Command; Alcantara Launch Center; CLA Operations Control Center; Space Activities Commission; Embraer; Imbel; Orbita; Engemissil; Barreira do Inferno Launch Center; Automation and Control Systems Engineering

CHINA: M-Series and CSS-2 missiles

Selected buyers: New Era; Poly Technologies; Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense; Chinese International Trust and Investment; China Precision Machinery Import- Export; Great Wall Industry; China Electronic Import-Export; China Aviation Technology Import-Export; General Staff Equipment and Technology; China North Industries; China State Shipbuilding

INDIA: Prithvi and Agni missiles, and SLV-3, ASLV, PSLV and GSLV space launchers

Selected buyers: Integrated Guided Missile Development Program; Space Research Organization; Defense Research and Development Organization (or Laboratory); Department of Space; Vikram Sarabhai Space Center; Bharat Dynamics; Institute of Science; Institute of Technology; Atomic Energy Commission; Ministry of Defense; Mishra Dhatu Nigam; Sriharikota Space Center; Chandipur, Pakheran and Baliabal test ranges

IRAN: Upgraded Scud and Surface-to-Surface missiles

Selected buyers: Parchin complex; Sirjan complex, Ministries of Defense and Military Industrialization; Defense Industries Organization; Special Industry Group of the Republican Guards; Center for War Research of the Reconstruction Jihad; Rafsanjan test site

NO. KOREA: Upgraded Scud and Nodong I missiles

Selected buyers: Changgwang Credit; Lyongaksan Machineries and Equipment Export; Ministry of Defense

PAKISTAN: Hatf-Series missiles

Selected buyers: Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission; Space Applications Research Center; Remote Sensing Application Center; Karachi Computer Center; Mekran Coast and Sonmiana test ranges

SO. AFRICA: Arniston or Jericho II missiles and space launcher

Selected buyers: ARMSCOR; Council for Scientific and Industrial Research; Denel; Hotek; Kentron; Krantzkop; Missile and Rocket Technical Division (ARMSCOR); Somchem; Houwteg; Overberg and De Hoop test ranges

** Missile projects that should be added to the Commerce 1ist **
INDONESIA: Prima III and IV and RX-250 rockets

SO. KOREA: Surface-to-Surface missiles and space launcher

TAIWAN: Ching Feng and Tien Ma missiles

TURKEY: ASR-227 missile