Disarmament Digest

Monday 23 November 2015

Nuclear: Russia resumes nuclear trade with Iran as sanctions lifted
Russia will resume exporting nuclear technology to Iran, President Vladimir Putin has decreed on a visit to Tehran. Russia says it will help Iran’s export of enriched uranium and modification of nuclear facilities at Arak and Fordo. In a decree published on Monday 23 November, President Putin said Russia would support Iranian efforts to export any surplus enriched uranium – that is, above the 300kg limit – by sending raw uranium to Iran in exchange. Russia will also help Iran to modernise the heavy water reactor at Arak and to modify two cascades at its Fordo uranium enrichment plant. (BBC)

Nuclear: Trident renewal costs rise by £6bn, UK defence review reveals
Debate over the renewal of the Trident nuclear programme is set to become even more intense after the Ministry of Defence disclosed the costs have jumped by billions of pounds. David Cameron, announcing the outcome of the five-year strategic and security review in the Commons, pledged to maintain nuclear weapons as “our ultimate insurance policy as a nation” but failed to mention the new estimated cost. The strategy document disclosed the cost of the proposed four nuclear submarines at £31bn, up from a projected cost of £25bn five years ago and £20bn in 2006. The review said a contingency of £10bn would also be set aside, suggesting the MoD fears the costs could rise beyond the £31bn estimate. (By Ewen MacAskill and Nicholas Watt for the Guardian)

Chemical: Is Russia or France deploying chemical weapons against Isis in Raqqa?
Chemical weapons are being used in air strikes against Isis in Raqqa by one or more members of the international community, it has been reported.Activists on the ground in Raqqa have reported the use of the banned substance white phosphorus. Known as WP, use of the highly flammable chemical is accepted under international law in order to light up the battlefield and provide cover for ground troops. But it is banned for use in densely populated areas or when directly targeted at infantry because it is highly toxic and can burn through skin and bone.
Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, a network of citizen journalists which represents the primary source for information from inside the Isis-held city, said there were reports “that air strikes targeted Raqqa today (Sunday) with phosphorus” munitions. It is thought to be the first reported use of white phosphorus in air strikes on Raqqa, which has been heavily bombed by the Russian and French air forces in the wake of the Paris attacks. (By Adam Withnall for the Independent)

Chemical: OPCW Executive Council gravely concerned about continuing use of chemical weapons in Syria
In a meeting 23 November, the Executive Council of the OPCW adopted by consensus a decision expressing grave concern regarding the findings of the Fact-Finding Mission that chemical weapons have once again been used in the Syrian Arab Republic. The Council reaffirmed its condemnation, in the strongest possible terms, of the use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances. It emphasised that any use of chemical weapons anywhere at any time by anyone under any circumstances is unacceptable and would violate international law. The Council expressed its strong conviction that those individuals responsible for the use of chemical weapons should be held accountable. (OPCW)
See also:
U.S. official says use of chemical weapons is ‘routine’ in Syria

Weapons of Mass Destruction: Russia, US remove potential ‘dirty bomb’ parts from Antarctica
Russia and the US have removed radioactive components from Antarctica that were left unprotected and could have been used by terrorists to craft a “dirty bomb,” said Valery Lukin, deputy head of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute. “Four radioisotope thermoelectric generators and four sources of ionizing radiation, which were used in different equipment, have been removed from Antarctica within the framework of the joint Russian-American program,” Lukin, who is also in charge of the Russian Antarctic Expedition (RAE), told TASS. According to Lukin, malefactors had previously attempted to get their hands on derelict radioactive devices, “but not in Antarctica.” The equipment, which has been recently removed by Russia and the US, had been stored in autonomous research facilities without security protection. It would have been quite easy to snatch it under the guise of tourism, nongovernmental activities or establishment of a record, the scientist said. (Sputnik News)

Missiles: Russia Develops New Tactical Missiles for Iskander-M System
Russia is developing new types of ballistic missiles for the Iskander-M tactical nuclear-capable missile system, the deputy head of Russia’s missile forces Aleksandr Dragovalovsky told radio station Russian News Service. Dragovalovsky did not specify the exact types of missiles being developed for the system. Konstrukskoye Buro Mashinostroyeniya, the design bureau behind the Iskander, said in a press release this week that the system currently has four types of ballistic missiles and one cruise missile. “This system, the Iskander-M, has a great potential for modernization, which is happening in terms of armaments and missiles in particular. That is, the standard array of missiles is growing and new missiles are being developed,” Drugalovsky said. (Sputnik News)

Missiles: Iraq grounds northern flights over missiles launched at Syria
Iraq said it was suspending flights between Baghdad and the northern cities of Erbil and Sulaimaniya for two days starting on Monday 23 November due to military traffic from Russia’s air campaign in neighboring Syria. Iraq’s civil aviation authority said in a statement the decision was made “to protect travelers and because of the crossing of cruise missiles and bombers in the northern part of Iraq launched from the Caspian Sea.” It was not immediately clear if Baghdad was expecting an increase in such activity this week. (Reuters)
See also:
Lebanese minister: Russia’s Mediterranean drills ended
See also:
Turkey seeks U.N. Security Council meeting on Russian attack on Turkmens in Syria
See also:
Russia says it intensifies strikes against IS oil facilities in Syria
See also:
Syrian government territorial gains just 0.4% since Russian military intervention

Missiles: India Tests Supersonic Advanced Air Defense Missile
On Sunday 22 November, India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) tested an indigenously developed supersonic interceptor missile: the Advanced Air Defense (AAD) missile. The AAD is part of the first phase of India’s Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) initiative, along with the Prithvi Air Defense (PAD) missile. The Prithvi provides exoatmosphermic defense while the AAD is optimized for endoatmospheric performance. The AAD has been undergoing trials since 2007 and may ultimately serve as a project demonstrator. A full-scale BMD system in India will incorporate technology from both the PAD and AAD systems. The AAD interceptor is a 7.5 meter single-stage, solid fuel rocket, capable of Mach 4.5 supersonic flight. The AAD has an operational range between 150-200 kilometers and uses an inertial navigational aid system with active radar homing. So far, it has been test-launched from a transporter erector launcher (TEL). (By Ankit Panda for the Diplomat)

Conventional Arms: Iran to Launch New Home-Made Destroyer by Yearend
Iran’s Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari announced that the country’s advanced destroyer named ‘Sahand’ will be launched by the end of the current Iranian year (which ends on March 19). “Today, different destroyers are being built by the Navy whose construction has progressed between 10% to 90%,” Sayyari told reporters in Tehran on Thursday 19 November. “The first feature of Sahand is that its radar-evading capability has increased up to 30% and the form of its hull makes its detection by radars more difficult,” Head of the Self-Sufficiency Jihad of the Iranian Navy Rear Admiral Ali Qolamzadeh told FNA. He said that the volume of Sahand’s store, deposit and stock rooms have increased in a way that it can continue sailing distances twice farther than what its current destroyers can traverse. (Fars News, Iran)

Conventional Arms: F-35 Too Expensive: US Air Force Might Buy 72 New F-15 or F-16 Fighter Jets
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter might not be produced in sufficient numbers to maintain the U.S. Air Force’s current operational capabilities due to budgetary constraints, according to Aerospace Daily & Defense Report. As a result the service is considering filling the capabilities gap with 72 Boeing F-15s, Lockheed-Martin F-16’s, or even Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets. “F-15s and F-16s are now expected to serve until 2045, when an all-new aircraft will be ready, and plans to modernize F-16s with active electronically scanned array radars and other improvements are being revived,” the article states. The U.S. Air Force “is struggling to afford 48 F-35s a year” for the first years of full-rate production, a senior Air Force officer told Aerospace Daily & Defense Report. (By Franz-Stefan Gady for the Diplomat)

Conventional Arms/Chemical: Arsenal Discovered as Belgium Capital Enters Lockdown
A terrorist arsenal has been discovered during overnight searches in a suburb of Brussels.
Chemicals and explosives were among the items found in the Molenbeek suburb, a rundown neighborhood where Paris attacker Abdelhamid Abaaoud was suspected of operating a terrorist cell. The find came as Belgium’s capital entered a security lockdown. The government has warned that there could be a repeat of Paris-style attacks in the country’s capital, prompting the closure of subways in Brussels and the deployment of heavily armed police and soldiers. (By Martin Banks for Defense News)

Drones: China displays biggest drone
China has displayed its latest and biggest military unmanned aircraft at an industry expo in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, in an attempt to attract more buyers for its combat drones, the media reported on Saturday 21 November. Considering the rule that China’s defence sector never publicly displays advanced weapons solely designed for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the public debut of CH-5 at the China (Shenzhen) International Unmanned Vehicle Systems Trade Fair has an unmistakable indication: China is eager to sell it. “We have sold the CH-3 to several foreign nations and now we plan to launch the export version of the CH-5 to the international market. It can perform air-to-ground strike, reconnaissance and transport operations,” said Shi Wen, chief designer of the CH series at China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics. Earlier reports quoted Vasily Kashin, a senior analyst with the Moscow-based Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, as saying Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iraq have deployed drones from the CH family. (The Hindu, India)

Landmines: Landmines slow key advance by Yemen loyalists
Pro-government forces in Yemen pressed their advance Sunday 22 November to recapture the southwestern province of Taez but were slowed by landmines planted by Shiite rebels, military officials said. Government forces backed by air and ground support from a Saudi-led coalition launched an all-out offensive last week to push the Iran-backed rebels out of Taez and break the siege of loyalists in its provincial capital. “We have advanced after having cleared and destroyed a large quantity of anti-personnel and anti-tank mines planted by the Huthi rebels and their allies” amongst renegade troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, a military official said. A Yemeni commander confirmed that mines were hampering the progress of government forces and had caused casualties among fighters, without providing any figures. (By Nabil Hassan for AFP)

Cybersecurity: China ‘Vulnerable’ in Cyberspace, US Cyber Chief Warns
The head of US Cyber Command said China is as vulnerable to cyber attacks as any other nation, offering a veiled suggestion that further malicious hacks by the Chinese could result in reprisals in the cyber realm. Speaking Saturday 21 November at the Halifax Security Forum, National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers, who also heads US Cyber Command, hinted that China might find itself the target of unwelcome cyber intrusions. “To my Chinese counterparts, I would remind them, increasingly you are as vulnerable as any other major industrialized nation state. The idea that you can somehow exist outside the broader global cyber challenges I don’t think is workable,” Rogers said. (By Andrew Clevenger for Defense News)

Cybersecurity: Twitter: Anonymous’s lists of alleged ISIS accounts are ‘wildly inaccurate’
To the applause of its own supporters, Anonymous claimed on Friday 20 November to have whacked more than 20,000 ISIS accounts—amounting to nearly half of the known active accounts, according to estimates from earlier this year. The process generally works by curating a massive list of Twitter accounts in a text document, designating them as “ISIS-affiliated,” and publishing them online. The group then reports the accounts, some using a widely circulated “Twatter Reporter” bot. A spokesperson for Twitter, who asked not to be quoted by name, told the Daily Dot that the lists generated by Anonymous are not being used by the company, saying research has found them to be “wildly inaccurate.” “Users flag content for us through our standard reporting channels, we review their reports manually, and take action if the content violates our rules,” the spokesperson said, adding: “We don’t review anonymous lists posted online, but third party reviews have found them to be wildly inaccurate and full of academics and journalists.” (By Dell Cameron for the Daily Dot)

Arms Trade: U.S. expects F-35 to be part of Canada’s next jet competition
The Pentagon expects the new Canadian government to allow Lockheed Martin Corp’s LMT.N F-35 fighter aircraft to compete to replace Canada’s aging CF-18 jets, despite the Liberal Party’s stated opposition to the planes, U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said on Saturday 21 November. “I think they’re going to have another full and open competition. I think the F-35 will be part of that but the requirements from the competition may change. We don’t know,” Work said. Work’s comments came a day after Canada’s new Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan, in an interview with Reuters, said it would be “premature” to talk about the F-35 or any aircraft that might or might not be able to replace the CF-18. (Reuters)

Arms Trade: Jordan receives 3 Blackhawks from US
Jordan has received three Blackhawk helicopters from the US out of eight allocated for the Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army (JAF), Government Spokesperson Mohammad Momani said Wednesday 18 November. He described the delivery of the helicopters as a “reflection of the strategic interdependence between Jordan and the US.” Momani said that these helicopters will contribute to the Kingdom’s plans to enhance its army’s capabilities in the face of threats and in its efforts to safeguard its border. (Jordan Times)

Arms Trade/Drones: US approves sale of Global Hawks to Japan
The State Department has approved the possible sale of RQ-4 Block 30 high-altitude, long-endurance Global Hawks to Japan. Japan requested three Block 30 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft with Enhanced Integrated Sensor Suites, eight Kearfott Inertial Navigation System/Global Positioning System units and eight LN-251 INS/GPS units. The total estimated value of Japan’s request is $1.2 billion, which also includes operational-level sensor and aircraft test equipment, ground support equipment, operational flight test support, communications equipment, spare and repair parts, personnel training, publications and technical data, U.S. Government and contractor technical and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics support, the notice said. (By Mark Pomerleau for Defense Systems)
See also:
Spain To Buy Four MQ-9 Reapers for $168.2 Million

Arms Trade: Japan Links Australian Submarine Bid To Regional Security
Japan’s defense minister urged Australia Sunday 22 November to award a huge submarine contract to his country, saying such a deal would help bolster regional security. Australia has put out to tender a project worth up to Aus $50 billion (US $36 billion) to replace its current diesel and electric-powered Collins Class submarines. France and Germany are also in the running with Japan to secure the order. Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said picking Tokyo could help ensure maritime security in the Asia-Pacific, alluding to the importance of regional allies such as the US, Japan and Australia working together in the face of China’s growing military might. He said after talks with his counterpart Marise Payne in Sydney that awarding Japan the contract would be of “strategic importance, significant strategic importance, and this is not just about transfer of defense equipment and capabilities.” “This will lead to operational cooperation between Japan and Australia… Japan and Australia and the US.” (AFP)
See also:
Australia and Japan: The Unknown Unknowns

Arms Smuggling: Seizure of Iranian Weapons, Currency and Forged Documents in Al-Qudaih, Saudi Arabia
The security spokesman for the Saudi Ministry of Interior Major General Mansour Al-Turki said that security forces have seized Iranian currency, weapons and live ammunition during raids and search operations in Al-Qudaih, Al-Qatif, Saudi Arabia on Thursday 19 November. Major General Al-Turki added in a statement to “Asharq Al-Awsat” that security forces also seized military equipment and forged documents in a raid. He added that wireless communication equipment was also seized. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Military Affairs: U.N. Security Council Unanimously Votes to Adopt France’s Counterterrorism Resolution
The Security Council unanimously passed a counterterrorism resolution on Friday 20 November that authorizes the use of military force against the extremist groups Islamic State and al-Nusra Front. The resolution, introduced by France in the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris a week ago, calls on the international community to mobilize and to organize efforts against the global threat posed by terrorism, to block the flow of foreign fighters and to crack down on terrorist finances. French President François Hollande plans a diplomatic offensive this coming week in a bid to unite world powers in a campaign against Islamic State. Mr. Hollande will visit the U.S. on Tuesday and Russia on Thursday. (By Farnaz Fassihi for the Wall Street Journal)
See also:
UK offers help as France seeks to bolster anti-IS coalition
See also:
Obama Raises Doubts Russia Will Join Coalition Against Islamic State
See also:
Nordic States Await Requests To Aid France
See also:
French aircraft carrier Charles-de-Gaulle has arrived in Syria “to destroy Daesh completely”

Military Affairs: EU Officials Debate Intel Agency, Other Security Steps After Paris Attacks
The European Commission has called for the establishment of an EU-wide intelligence agency in the wake of the Nov. 13 Paris attacks. I believe it is a moment to make one more step forward and put the basis for the creation of a European intelligence agency,” EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said Friday 20 November. The demand came as European Union interior ministers held emergency talks in Brussels on boosting security and after French President Francois Hollande’s decision to intensify strikes against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. (By Martin Banks for Defense News)

Military Affairs: The French Military Is Experiencing an ‘Unprecedented’ Recruiting Surge
Requests for information and applications via the French army’s website have tripled since the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, according to Le Monde. “It is a completely unprecedented phenomenon,” Col. Eric de Lepresle, the head of marketing and communications for the army’s recruitment arm, told the French newspaper. nterest has jumped for other other branches of the armed forces as well, according to officials who spoke with Reuters. Col. Herve Chene, the head of air force recruitment, said the number of daily visitors to their website has jumped from 2,000 to 20,000. Visits in person to recruitment centers had tripled, he added. (By Frida Garza for Defense News)
See also:
French youth rush to armed forces (French)

Military Affairs: Pentagon Expands Inquiry Into Intelligence on ISIS Surge
Changes in classified assessments for military intelligence officials and policy makers are at the heart of an expanding internal Pentagon investigation of Centcom, as Central Command is known, where analysts say that supervisors revised conclusions to mask some of the American military’s failures in training Iraqi troops and beating back the Islamic State. The analysts say supervisors were particularly eager to paint a more optimistic picture of America’s role in the conflict than was warranted. In recent weeks, the Pentagon inspector general seized a large trove of emails and documents from military servers as it examines the claims, and has added more investigators to the inquiry. (By Matt Apuzzo, Mark Mazzetti and Michael S. Schmidt for the New York Times)
See also:
Obama to Pentagon: ‘Get to the bottom’ of altered Islamic State intelligence

Military Expenditure/Arms Trade: Britain’s Cameron To Pledge Extra £12 Billion for Defence
British Prime Minister David Cameron will promise an additional £12 billion (US $18.2 billion) to strengthen the defense forces when he unveils a five-year strategic review on Monday 23 November, according to a government statement. Under the plans, which are part of £178 billion investment in defence equipment and support over the next decade, Britain would acquire nine new Boeing P8 maritime surveillance aircraft, and two Strike Brigades able to quickly deploy missions up to 5,000 strong. Britain has committed to meet a NATO target of spending at least 2 percent of gross domestic product on defence. (AFP)
See also:
Cameron Says Obama ‘Clearly Delighted’ by UK’s New Defense Plans
See also:
U.K. Plans Fighter-Jet Purchases Amid Push for Syria Airstrikes

Opinion and Analysis:
Nuclear: Chill With Russia Brings Nuclear Insecurity
Interviews with nearly a dozen other senior Russian and American scientists, diplomats and retired defense officials reveal growing concerns that hard-won gains in post-Cold War nuclear nonproliferation are slowly being eroded. Russian and American officials still talk about the importance of working together to prevent nuclear terrorism, but there is no indication that either side intends to take steps to revive security cooperation and insulate it from other disputes. Rose Gottemoeller, undersecretary of State for arms control and international security, says the administration is willing to resume stalled nuclear work, but Moscow has been dragging its feet. Richard G. Lugar, who along with Sam Nunn shepherded congressional passage of the Cooperative Threat Reduction initiative in 1992, is pessimistic about the outlook for the nuclear security relationship with Moscow. “I think this is going to be a very important part of any relationship that we have,” he says. “It’s going to require a different frame of mind on the part of the Russians, which obviously is not there presently.” Many nuclear security advocates in Russia, however, don’t accept that the fault lies mostly with Moscow, arguing that both governments have erred in taking for granted the nonproliferation gains made in the last quarter century. Alexei Arbatov, a former member of the Russian parliament who worked on defense issues, warns the two countries are “sleepwalking into a comprehensive and unprecedented crisis of nuclear arms control.” Some U.S. officials and analysts privately say they are concerned that the longer the Russian economy deteriorates, the greater the temptation will be for the Kremlin to short change nuclear security projects, such as needed computer software updates at civilian sites housing nuclear materials. Moscow has said it can pay for all needed upgrades and site work on its own, but U.S. officials worry that they have no way of verifying that Russia has made good on its word. Anton Khlopkov, director of the independent Moscow-based Center for Energy and Security Studies think tank, says it is “humiliating” and counterproductive for the United States to question Russia’s commitment to nuclear security. “I see that this perception in the [United] States is very strong, that the level of nuclear security in Russia is still not appropriate,” Khlopkov says. “I cannot accept that.” (By Rachel Oswald for CQ Roll Call)
See also:
A New Arms Race Threatens to Bring the U.S. and Russia Back to the Nuclear Brink

Chemical: CW incidents alleged by the Syrian government: an industrial chemical as likely cause?
Two recent reports of the OPCW’s Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) address allegations of mustard agent use at Marea in northern Syria and chlorine attacks against Syrian government forces around Damascus. Syria submitted four Notes Verbales alleging a total of 26 chemical weapon (CW) events resulting in 432 casualties. The first reported incident dates back as far as 19 March 2013; the most recent ones took place in May 2015. The report of 29 October indicates that the FFM completed its mandate for the Jobar investigation, where Syria reported 150 casualities. The FFM expresses considerable frustration about the dearth of additional evidence to support the allegation: While interviews with soldiers point to the possibility ‘of exposure to some type of non-persistent, airborne irritant secondary to the surface impact of two launched objects’, the FFM could not confidently determine whether such exposure might have resulted from the payload of the projectiles or from another source (propellant, a chemical stored in the area of impact, detonation products, etc.) because of insufficient evidence presented by Syria, insufficient details in reviewed medical records, and inconsistencies in the narratives of interviewees. This particular investigation was also hampered by the delay of some nine months between the alleged incident and the start of the mission. Notwithstanding, the FFM all but ruled out chlorine and organophosphorous compounds (e.g., sarin) as agents responsible for the described symptoms. High on the list of probabilities figures diBorane, which besides use as a rocket propellant also has application in electronic industries and the vulcanisation of rubber. As the report notes, these uses make it ‘relevant to the interests of a militarized non-state actor [and it is] also readily available in the region’. (By Jean-Pascal Zanders for Arms Control Law)
See also:
Evolution of the Islamic State’s Chemical Weapons Capacity

Drones: Air Force Whistleblowers Risk Prosecution to Warn Drone War Kills Civilians, Fuels Terror (video)
Has the U.S. drone war “fueled the feelings of hatred that ignited terrorism and groups like ISIS”? That’s the conclusion of four former Air Force servicemembers who are speaking out together for the first time. They’ve issued a letter to President Obama warning the U.S. drone program is one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism. They accuse the administration of lying about the effectiveness of the drone program, saying it is good at killing people—just not the right ones. The four drone war veterans risk prosecution by an administration that has been unprecedented in its targeting of government whistleblowers.

Cybersecurity: Anonymous vs. ISIS: Netpolitik After the Paris Attacks
The filmed declaration of Anonymous to take down ISIS so exemplifies the current state of the networked world that it warrants closer analysis. It is the epitome of the theory of Netpolitik. If our businesses rely on the network organizational form, our military engages in net-centric warfare, and even our enemies persist as networks, we postulated, then governments should employ network principles to assert national interests in the world of diplomacy. A non-governmental network of anonymous hackers will fight against an international network of violent terrorists on the cyber-war field. They will no doubt employ those network principles we mentioned in “Netpolitik”, and many more that we can learn from them, in pursuit of the new global bad guy. For example, just as biological organisms have to fight against viruses, communications networks become vulnerable at their weakest spot. The terrorist network that has been so savvy with new media now faces a network of accomplished hackers in a potentially formidable challenge to the group. This, then, is a prime example of netpolitik, the engagement of networks to counter networks – though in this case it goes beyond diplomacy. It is an early episode in guerilla cyber-warfare. At the least this development bears close watching. Today, nations should not have to rely on the white masks of digital vigilantes. Rather, they need cyber-rangers with the capabilities – talent, resources, resolve – to defeat their enemies, who more likely than not, will be networks, not nations. (By Charlie Firestone for the Huffington Post)
See also:
Netpolitik: What the Emergence of Networks Means for Diplomacy and Statecraft
See also:
Fight against ISIS reveals power of social media

Arms Trade: Russia-China Su-35 Deal Raises Reverse Engineering Issue
As China becomes the first export customer of the Russian-built Su-35 multirole fighter aircraft, some observers have raised the question of whether Beijing intends to reverse engineer the plane as it did with an earlier sale with Russia. The production of the aircraft for the Chinese started even before the final contract was signed, said Vasily Kashin, a China military specialist at the Moscow-based Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies. “So, it will not stand in a queue, and we possibly will see the first deliveries late next year and the final ones at some point in 2018, maybe late 2017.” The deal does not include any technology transfers, but the Russians have agreed to use some of the “Chinese cockpit equipment,” he said. There are fears China’s decision to procure only 24 fighters indicates an intention to reverse engineer and copy the fighter, as it did with the Su-27SK. In 1995, China secured a $2.5 billion production license deal from Russia to build 200 Su-27SKs, dubbed the J-11A. In 2006, Russia killed the contract after 95 aircraft when it discovered China had reverse engineered the aircraft and was covertly manufacturing an indigenous variant, the J-11B, with Chinese-built avionics and weapons. There are also fears China will want the Su-35’s sophisticated engine, the Saturn AL-117S, for its J-20 stealth fighter. The engine is also outfitted on Russia’s T-50 stealth fighter. “I assume the reason why they are buying 24 … is to get hold of some of the embedded technologies,” said Roger Cliff, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. “The basic airframe of the Su-35 isn’t much changed from the Su-27 and Su-30, which China already has, so presumably they are going after other things such as thrust-vectoring, the Su-35’s passive electronically scanned array radar, or its infrared search-and-track system.” Douglas Barrie, senior fellow for military aerospace, London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, said the Chinese are looking at the small number of Su-35s as an “opportunity to compare and contrast.” The Shenyang J-11D, now in development, could be viewed as an Su-35 equivalent, and the Chinese Air Force will now have the opportunity to weigh both aircraft side-by-side. “Alongside access to engine technology, one area where China still benefits from external technology, the weapons package for the Su-35 will also be of interest,” he said.(By Wendell Minnick for Defense News)

Nuclear: Lessons learned from 70 years of nuclear weapons
This report discusses several features of the 1960s proposals for nuclear disarmament, and the circumstances in which they were tabled, and compare them with modern efforts. It suggests practices and approaches more likely to lead to consensus among nuclear powers propelling wider arms reduction efforts as well as those approaches and attitudes which should be avoided. It also describes discernible time frames in which trends in thinking on disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation have evolved and finishes with a set of recommendations to address the stalemate in disarmament discussions. (By Anna Sliwon for the British American Security Information Council)

Nuclear: Implications for US Extended Deterrence and Assurance in East Asia
This paper explores the geostrategic implications of a nuclear-armed North Korea—specifically, the challenges for extended deterrence and alliance relations—and the impact of alternative North Korean nuclear “futures.” First, it reflects on a more general debate about whether nuclear weapons reinforce deterrence relationships or embolden aggressive behavior, and what we might expect from North Korea as its nuclear capabilities grow. While it is impossible to know whether and how Pyongyang’s foreign policy would change, there are legitimate reasons for concern. The paper then discusses extended deterrence and assurance challenges in East Asia. It concludes with a discussion about the impact of different North Korean nuclear developments on those challenges over the coming years. (By Shane Smith for 38 North)

Nuclear: Israel’s Military Plutonium Inventory
Overall, Israel is assessed as having sophisticated nuclear weapons that likely rely on a range of quantities of plutonium. In this estimate, the nuclear weapons are assumed to hold between three and five kilograms of plutonium. Although the five kilograms figure is rather large, it is viewed as an upper bound. A weapon could use this amount of plutonium in order to increase its explosive yield or permit further miniaturization. Based on the total production of plutonium, the median for the number of nuclear weapons is about 165 with a standard deviation of 33 and a full range of about 90-290 weapons (see figure 2). About 80 percent of the results are within 50 of the median. Likely, Israel did not build this many nuclear weapons. A reasonable assumption is that the number of deployed weapons is 30 percent lower, or 115 nuclear weapons as of the end of 2014. (By David Albright for the Institute for Science and International Security)
See also:
Highly Enriched Uranium Inventories in South Africa

Nuclear: Trident: the need for a comprehensive risk assessment
The Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), planned for publication on 23 November 2015, is expected to include an update on the Trident renewal project and financial estimates. Like every major government project, MoD procurement officials will have conducted a detailed confidential risk analysis for the construction, but this project requires a far broader, comprehensive risk analysis over a set of areas, as listed in this briefing. If HM Treasury (HMT) is taking over financial oversight of the project as reported earlier in November then it needs to establish and maintain its own wide-ranging risk register. BASIC published today, alongside the SDSR, a brief that outlines the risks associated with the Trident renewal programme and suggests that the National Audit Office (NAO) conduct a rapid multidimensional risk assessment encompassing the issues outlined in this brief and to make this available to all MPs. The NAO produces the annual defence Major Projects Report and the Equipment Plan, but this does not address the risks as outlined in this brief. (By Paul Ingram for the British American Security Information Council)

Chemical: Achieving Universality of the Chemical Weapons Convention in the Middle East
Two years ago, the attack on Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus, forced Syria’s accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). A promise to eliminate Syria’s chemical-weapons stocks followed. Yet today, in Syria and Iraq, these abhorrent weapons continue to be used. The two states in the Middle East which remain outside the CWC – Israel, which has signed but not ratified the convention, and Egypt, which has neither signed nor ratified – should join, enhancing international cooperation to avoid a chemical arms race in the region. Universal adherence to the CWC in the Middle East would build confidence in a number of ways, including by helping states address mounting threats from non-state actors. For Israel and Egypt, joining the convention is a moral, legal, political and security imperative with few, if any, downsides. The ratification process should start now, with initial transparency measures that civil-society groups can help to promote. (By Nomi Bar-Yaacov for Survival)

Conventional Arms: Russian strikes on Syria’s civilians: Cluster munitions, vacuum bombs and long-range missiles
This report covers investigations of the period from 30 September-30 October 2015, i.e. the first month of the Russian offensive in Syria. In keeping with our methodology for documenting military attacks, the report lists the attacks that we conclusively know to have been conducted by Russian forces against civilian locations. These attacks, which number 24 strikes in total, will be described in detail hereafter, along with an index of the civilian victims, including women and children, whose names were verified and documented by the VDC. It is worth mentioning that neither the airstrikes of the Syrian air forces, nor those of the US-led Coalition, that were carried out during the period under review against ISIS military posts are included herein. (Violations Documentation Center)


The Disarmament Digest is not an official publication of the United Nations. It is a daily collection of publicly available news articles and opinion pieces compiled by the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs.