By Shoshana Bryen
WASHINGTON, D.C.–Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Bush Administration undertook domestic security and foreign policy decisions to cope with the threat to American interests we understood to have emerged: colored threat levels, airport security changes, the provisions of The Patriot Act at home, and better intelligence coordination and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq abroad. People asked rhetorically and/or ironically, “Are we safe yet?”
President Obama’s nuclear materials summit begs the same question. He says we are.
In an odd story, The Washington Post reported that for four hours the President led a nuclear threat reduction seminar. [Because, according to The Post, “He’s never better than when he’s the teacher, a European diplomat said.” And because he has the most extensive knowledge of the nuclear issue and foreign policy, we presume.] During that time, only heads of state and two senior aides were permitted in the room, ensuring that everyone heard only what he/she wanted to hear and that follow-up will be almost impossible, even if anyone is so inclined.
Canada, Ukraine and Mexico were hailed for their decision to better secure or give up their highly enriched uranium. There was a whisper that Chinese Premier Hu Jin-tao used the word “sanctions,” but it couldn’t be confirmed because the press was largely shut out of the proceedings and there were no press conferences-only prepared handouts. The Chinese vice foreign minister did say China was “open to ideas” on dealing with Iran, which may mean ideas other than sanctions. The Soviets- oops, the Russians-looked perfectly happy with their new, special place in the international firmament, while Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgia’s president, NATO aspirant and Russia’s bête noir, didn’t get any face time with Mr. Obama.
What wasn’t on the table was more dangerous than what was.
The proliferators, the rogues, the nuclear weapons seekers and builders, the countries making overt threats and covert deals-Syria, Iran and North Korea-weren’t in the room. Pakistan, straddling the world’s great divide between Islamic fundamentalist violence and democratic institution-building, insisted on the right to do whatever it wanted with its nuclear material. The relationship between terrorists (including those who seek nuclear material) and the state sponsors of terrorism-many of whom were in the room-was never mentioned.
Nuclear material is not the only means for terrorists to cause large-scale destruction and mayhem. Chemical and biological weapons are easier to get and to use. Non-nuclear armed cruise missiles can devastate cities. Our ports and freight rail terminals are largely unprotected.
And speaking of cruise missiles and unprotected ports, a Russian company has announced the “Club-K container missile system.” The Club-K, according to the company’s own video, is four cruise missiles packed inside what appears to be a standard 40-foot civilian shipping container. It mounts on a ship, a freight train or a tractor-trailer. Until the top opens and the canisters rise, it could be anything. The company’s video can be seen on YouTube here.
The cruise-missile-in-a-box may in fact not be all it says it is-it wouldn’t be the first time. But it is a serious reminder that for all the posturing of 47 countries signing mushy, non-binding statements, there are real threats and real threatening countries out there. Securing Canadian fissile material is fine, but China, Russia, Iran, Syria, Pakistan and North Korea-and their friends-are where the attention of the United States and its democratic friends and allies ought to be focused.
Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release)– The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress Dec. 22 of a possible Foreign Military Sale to the United Arab Emirates of logistics support, training and related systems for 12 C-130J-30 aircraft being procured through a Direct Commercial Sale. The complete package, including associated parts and equipment is worth approximately $119 million.
The Government of the United Arab Emirates has requested a possible sale of logistics support and training for 12 C-130J-30 aircraft being procured through a Direct Commercial Sale, 12 AN/AAR-47 Missile Approach Warning Systems, 12 AN/ALE-47 Countermeasure Dispenser Sets, 12 AN/ALR-56M Radar Warning Receivers, communication equipment, navigation equipment, aircraft ferry and refueling support, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, mission planning systems, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services, and related elements of logistical and program support. The estimated cost is $119 million.
This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a critical and key partner/ally, which has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East.
The proposed sale will provide the United Arab Emirates the capability to transport equipment and troops in the region, and support U.S. and NATO airlift requirements in Afghanistan.
The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.
The principal contractor will be Lockheed-Martin of Bethesda, Maryland. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.
Implementation of this proposed sale will not require the assignment of additional U.S. Government or contractor representatives to the United Arab Emirates.
There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.
There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale. This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.
Preceding provided by the U.S. Defense Department