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Eight Nations Now Building ICBM Nuclear Missiles
File photo of the Peacekeeper ICBM missile.
File photo of the Peacekeeper ICBM missile.
by Martin Sieff
UPI Senior News Analyst
Washington (UPI) Dec 26, 2006
Ballistic missile defense programs around the world are going to have their work cut out for them: At least eight nations went all out in developing their own offensive ballistic missile programs in 2006, a new survey says. "According to a preliminary count, eight countries launched more than 26 ballistic missiles of 23 types in 24 different events," the Strategic Security Blog of the Federation of American Scientists reported Friday.

North Korea was not on the only ballistic missile-developing nation to experience test failures in its 2006 missile testing, the SSB report noted. Russia and India did too.

However, "the United States demonstrated a very reliable capability including the 117th consecutive successful launch of the Trident II D5 sea-launched ballistic missile," the SSB said.

The SSB noted the extensive ballistic missile testing activities of the United States, Russia, France and India, and dryly noted that they reflected "yet another double standard in international security." It recommended "that initiatives are needed to limit not only proliferating countries from developing ballistic missiles but also find ways to curtail the programs of the existing nuclear powers."

"The ballistic missile flight tests involved weapons ranging from 10-warhead intercontinental ballistic missiles down to single-warhead short-range ballistic missiles. Most of the flight tests, however, involved long-range ballistic missiles and the United States, Russia and France also launched sea-launched ballistic missiles," the report said.

Russia's sea-launched Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile failed in two consecutive test launches, suggesting significant problems with the program, the SSB noted. However, it cautioned that "tests of five other missile types shows that Russia still has effective missile forces."

The United States test launched eight Minuteman III and Trident II missiles, the report said. "The first ICBM flight-test signaled the start of the deployment of the W87 warhead on the Minuteman III force," it said.

As previously documented in these columns, the report noted that China finally test fired its long-delayed DF-31 ICBM and India tried to test fire its ambitious new Agni III ICBM.

The SSB report linked China and India's efforts to produce their own indigenous ICBM systems and said these developments "raised new concerns because of the role the weapons likely will play in the two countries' targeting of each other." -0- Dems may welcome CRS report on Navy BMD ship spending

A new Congressional Research Service report urges Congress to critically reassess the U.S. Navy's plans for building highly expensive ballistic missile defense cruisers and destroyers.

The report, issued last Wednesday, does not question the need for such ships. But it suggests that far cheaper ways of building them be developed or explored. And it suggests that the U.S. domestic shipbuilding and industrial home base would benefit from having a larger number of less ambitious, less costly ships being ordered and built instead of the Navy's current designs.

The report was issued after the Democrats won control of both houses of Congress in the Nov. 7 mid-term elections and before the new 110th Congress meets for the first time on Jan. 4. It therefore comes at a key moment to influence the potentially sympathetic thinking of the new incoming Democratic committee chairmen on these issues.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the next chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Henry Waxman, the next chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, have both made clear they are critical of the unprecedented defense spending that exploded during the six-year stewardship of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with no restraint from the Republicans who ran Congress during that time.

-0- China closely watches Japan's BMD spending

Japan's plans to dramatically boost its spending on BMD systems is being closely watched by neighboring China.

The official China Daily noted Friday that Japan's BMD spending is due to rise by 30.5 percent in Fiscal Year 2007 to $1.56 billion, according to Japanese official figures released Wednesday.

The report noted that the overall Japanese defense budget was not growing. On the contrary, it was due to drop by 0.3 per cent to $40.7 billion in the next fiscal year from April 1, compared to $40.6 billion this year, the report said.

The China Daily quoted Liu Jiangyong, a Japan expert with Tsinghua University, as saying that North Korea's missile and nuclear tests in 2006 gave the Japanese government the justification to dramatically expand its spending on BMD.

"The military cooperation in research and deployment between the United States and Japan has also reached a point where they are thinking of something new and bigger," Liu told the newspaper.

Jin Canrong, associate dean of the School of International Studies at Renmin University, told the China Daily that Japanese leaders believed their country was more at risk from North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs than any other. The United States was still too far away to be directly threatened by the North Korean systems and North Korea had always expressed suspicion towards Japan unmediated by the high trade levels and immigration between South Korea and Japan.

"Many Japanese politicians believe that pouring more money into ballistic defence is a good way to ease worry and win more votes among the public, especially after the (North Korea)'s bold military maneuvers," Jin told the newspaper.

Source: United Press International

Related Links
Federation of American Scientists
All about missiles at

US Sought Two-Month Nuclear Deadline For North Korea
Tokyo (AFP) Dec 27, 2006
The United States demanded in deadlocked talks that North Korea take steps to give up nuclear weapons within two months including freezing a reactor, a Japanese press report said Wednesday. Kyodo News said the United States made the demands during six-nation talks on ending North Korea's nuclear program that ended in stalemate last week in Beijing.

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