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Russia, Proliferation and the War on Terrorism

 By Constantine C. Menges, Ph.D. [1]


The evil that has formed against us has been termed the new totalitarian threat.   The authors of terror are seeking nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Regimes that sponsor terror are developing these weapons and the missiles to deliver them. If these regimes and their terrorist allies were to perfect these capabilities, no inner voice of reason, no hint of conscience would prevent their use. …..

                                                - President George W. Bush, May 2002 

Summary and overview 

            In July 2002 it is evident that the United States and its allies continue to face serious and continuing threats from a number of terrorist organizations and the regimes which have for years directly sponsored and supported this terrorism. Further, President Bush has warned that these state sponsors of terror are also themselves a threat because they are actively seeking to obtain nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons together with ballistic missiles.  

            The most active state sponsors of terror identified by the US government include: Iran, Iraq, North Korea and Libya.   All of these dictatorial regimes had extremely close political and military relations with the former Soviet Union until its dissolution at the end of 1991. The post-Soviet regime of President Yeltsin initially moved away from the Soviet pattern of supporting these regimes but by the mid-1990s as communist China moved Russia first into strategic alignment and then toward a full bilateral alliance, signed in July 2001, both Russia and China have been the most active powers in transferring weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile components and technology to these regimes. This according to the unclassified reports issued by CIA. 

            Repeated US protests have been met with denials or with promises that this would change in the future. However, the pattern of these actions by Russia and China continues despite several important agreements with Russia since the tragic terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. This continuing Russian proliferation should be seen in the strategic context of the new China-Russia alliance in which both powers seek to conduct a two-level relationship with the United States: 

        maintain normal relations in order to obtain the maximum economic benefits; 

        at the same time, discreetly opposing the US in order to reduce its global influence[2]. 

In overview, the latest unclassified CIA report finds that Russia has done the following: 

-         for Iran, Russia provided assistance in building its large stocks of chemical weapons; for its development of biological weapons (to which Cuba has also contributed[3]); with its nuclear weapons program, as well as with its mid range ballistic missile (900 miles) and its planned ICBM, the 9200 mile Shahab 4/5[4].  

-         for North Korea, Russia has provided major assistance in building its Nodong medium range ballistic missile (900 miles) and aid in building its 9200 mile intercontinental ballistic missile, the Taepodong. 

-         for Libya, Serbia under Milosevic was reported as a key supplier of ballistic missile related goods[5].   In my judgment, this means Russia was providing this assistance using Serbia as a conduit. The CIA report indicates Russia is discussing assistance to an ostensibly civilian nuclear program in Libya and notes that this could lead to “opportunities to pursue technologies that could be diverted for military purposes” [6].  

-         for Syria, the CIA report notes that Syria is critically dependent on foreign sources for its chemical weapons program. This could mean Russia. CIA states that Russia provides help for Syria’s ballistic missile program and has also been cooperating with Syria on civil nuclear power – expertise that could assist a nuclear weapons program[7]. 

-         For China, estimates are the Russia sold about $18 billion worth of advanced weapons to China since 1994 and plans to sell about the same amount in the next several years. 

It is suspected that during the 1990s missile designs and technology from Russia’s SS-18 multiple warhead ICBM was transferred to China by Russia[8].   This would have been incorporated into China’s ICBMs (DF-5/C-SS-4).   It is important to note that in 1990 there were allegedly two of these missiles; now there are an estimated 26[9].   China’s current ICBMs, targeted on the US, are undoubtedly more reliable and accurate due, among other factors, to this Russian assistance.  

Russian and Chinese proliferation to state sponsors of terrorism poses several serious threats: 1/ it emboldens these regimes to sponsor terrorism because they view themselves as militarily aided by two powerful states; 2/ it risks these regimes acquiring capabilities that could inflict massive destruction on US allies and forces and in the near future on the US homeland; and,3/ it strengthens anti-US and more hostile elements within both Russia and China which profit directly from proliferation to countries which can pay with hard currency.  

The time has come to move from dialogue to action on this issue.   There are a number of steps the United States should take and among these the most important is to use the enormous economic leverage of the United States as a peaceful incentive or disincentive to persuade Russia (and China) to end their proliferation. 

I/   US Purposes in Assisting post-Soviet Russia 

            Following the unraveling of the Soviet Union and the establishment of the Russian Federation in 1992, presidents and political leaders in both major parties in the United States have supported a large program of bilateral and multilateral assistance for Russia. The purposes have been to encourage a transition to ever more broad based and stable political democracy together with a market oriented economy and to assist Russia in controlling and reducing its large arsenal of strategic and tactical nuclear weapons, other weapons of mass destruction, and its ballistic missiles.   These programs were seen by the leaders in the United States and Russia as being in the interests of both countries since a more democratic and market oriented Russia would more likely be peaceful internationally and provide for greater prosperity and well-being for its citizens.  

            From 1991 until the end of 2000, the United States has provided more than $35 billion in bilateral assistance to all 15 post-Soviet republics: $17 billion in direct funding together with an additional $18 billion in commercial financing and insurance.   Russia has received more than $17 billion including $8 billion in direct funding and $9 billion in commercial financing and insurance[10].    This funding continues. At the same time, the United States has joined with the other major democracies to provide an estimated additional $120 billion in economic assistance through bilateral programs and international financial institutions[11].   Further, on several occasions the democracies have canceled or generously refinanced more than $40 billion of Russia’s external debt.   Therefore, we can estimate that as of this time total expenditures and grants by the United States and its democratic allies in assistance for Russia have been worth more than $150 billion dollars since the unraveling of the Soviet Union.  

            This is an important starting point for considering Russia’s continuing transfer of components and expertise for weapons of mass destruction and the ballistic missiles to deliver them. It is often said that these highly dangerous transfers have occurred because Russia and various Russian weapons manufacturing organizations need and want the funds they derive from these transfers. The question facing the current leadership of the United States is whether it is the national interest to continue the many forms of economic assistance for Russia even though its government either denies or fails to stop the proliferation. 

II/ Background to Russia’s Current Transfers of Weapons of Mass Destruction 

It is a fact of international politics that virtually all the Soviet-linked anti-U.S. dictatorships of the Cold War era outside Europe survived during the 1990s.   These include Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, North Korea, Cuba -- all of which have been judged by the United States government to be states which support international terrorism. The Middle Eastern anti-US regimes, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria continue to seek to build weapons of mass destruction for possible use against the United States as well as against U.S. allies such as Israel and the Persian Gulf oil states.  

These are the states which during the 1990s have been supported by Russia and China politically and with weapons transfers at ever increasing tempo.    In congressionally-mandated public reports, the Director of Central Intelligence has indicated that Russia and China are the countries which provide the largest number of conventional weapons and most of the aid for weapons of mass destruction to these and other hostile regimes.    

The Soviet purpose in working for 30 years with these regimes in the Middle East was essentially to use them and their hostility against Israel and its alliance with the United States as a means of helping radical pro-Soviet groups gain control of the Middle East oil wealth. This included unsuccessful attempts to overthrow the moderate Persian Gulf oil regimes - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates.   The Soviet view was that with Europe and Japan depending on these for about 70 percent of their energy supplies and radical pro-Soviet regimes in charge of those oil resources it would be possible to neutralize Europe and Japan denying them further supplies of Middle Eastern unless they left NATO and other alliances with the U.S. .  

In the 1990s, Russia and China sold weapons to the anti-U.S. regimes in the Middle East to earn hard currency, to support their own military producers, to establish closer relations and to build up these regimes as a means of counterbalancing the United States.  

Years after the event, reports revealed that in 1995 Vice President Gore had entered into a secret agreement with Prime Minister Chernomyrdin of Russia that the United States would not implement sanctions required by the Gore-McCain Nonproliferation Act of 1992 if Russia promised to stop selling advanced conventional weapons to Iran. This surprising revelation led Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and Senator Jesse Helms to write President Clinton on October 13, 2000 saying, “please assure us. . . the Vice President did not in effect sign a pledge with Victor Chernomyrdin in 1995 that committed your Administration to break U.S. law by dodging sanctions requirements.”[12] In fact, Russia did not stop selling such weapons. Despite U.S. diplomatic protests, Russian weapons transfers continued into the years 2001 and 2002.  

III/ The New China-Russia Alliance: Proliferation as a Key Aspect 

On July 16, 2001, the Presidents of China and Russia signed a twenty year treaty of cooperation. This is one result of years of Chinese effort to move Russian presidents Yeltsin and Putin away from the United States. In 1950 a treaty between Communist China and the Soviet Union had produced a marked increase in the challenge posed by both powers; it was followed almost immediately by their support for North Korea’s attack on South Korea. Then after a decade of ever more bitter disputes between Mao and Soviet ruler Khruschev, there was a sharp break and very hostile relations until a process of normalization began again in 1985. Given the political changes inside Russia since 1992,, China’s economic opening, and events after September 11, 2001, the new alliance has been given very little attention, yet it is important to examine its implications for the future.  

The expectation of President Jiang that the treaty would help move Russia away from the West has not yet been met.   To the contrary, Russia has cooperated with the US in the first phase of the war on terrorism which also meets its strong interest in defeating armed Muslims inside Russia. Further, Presidents Bush and Putin have agreed on significant reductions in offensive strategic weapons and Russia was recently given a seat at the NATO table with full participation in the discussion of issues but no veto on actions. 

Last year the Department of State minimized the implications of the China-Russia treaty stating, “ it doesn’t have mutual defense in it or anything like that”[13]. That was incorrect : article 9 of the treaty explicitly states that   if in the view of either China or Russia “ a threat of aggression arises“ the two sides will immediately consult on actions “to eliminate the emerging threat”. China also officially stated that the treaty also calls for “joint attacks against invading forces”[14] which China defines to include any U.S.forces aiding Taiwan or contesting its claims in the South China Sea. A senior Chinese official said that the treaty omitted details on military cooperation “because we have ample agreements on that issue”[15]. 

Nor had the US taken much notice in June 2001 when China led the way in establishing the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which President Jiang calls the “Shanghai Pact”.   This currently brings together China, Russia, and four Central Asian states for political, economic and military cooperation.   Its most recent summit meeting , held on June 6-7, 2002 and hosted by President Putin , agreed that the current six countries with a population of 1.5 billion, should add additional members such as Iran and India[16], with China also seeking to include Pakistan.   Both Putin and senior Indian officials have expressed interest in India joining the Shanghai Pact[17]; that would bring this second China-Russia alliance to a membership including nearly 40% of the world’s population, along with very large and powerful nuclear armed military forces. 

At this time neither the China–Russia bilateral alliance nor the Shanghai Pact has taken on the aspects of an emerging ever more powerful political-military coalition which is seeking to move toward dominance. Yet there are a number of negative consequences which need to be understood . 

The first has to do with the next phases in the war on terrorism. President Bush has been explicit that it is not only the terrorist organizations that must be countered but also the regimes which give them direct military, political, and other support. Yet a recent CIA report to the Congress reveals that, even after Sept.11,2001, China and Russia continue to be the leading suppliers of expertise and components for chemical, biological, nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles to many state sponsors of terrorism, including the very regimes designated by President Bush as the "Axis of Evil": Iraq, Iran and North Korea[18]. By helping to make these dangerous regimes more powerful, China and Russia are lessening the effectiveness of the war on terrorism by emboldening them as they aid terrorists. This increases the threats to the US and its allies from both the terrorists and their sponsoring regimes.

Further, while President Bush has made it evident that there must be a constructive change in the regimes of state sponsors of terror such as Iraq, China and Russia have both repeatedly declared that no action should be taken against Iraq or other regimes the US declares are sponsoring terrorism without the approval of the UN Security Council, where they both have a veto. Yet for years and continuing after 9/11, China and Russia both have provided political support to Saddam Hussein against US and British-led efforts to bring about Iraq’s compliance with existing UN Security Council resolutions concerning the inspection, removal and destruction of weapons of mass destruction . China and Russia have also both strengthened their relations with Iran and North Korea despite the aggressive actions of those regimes—the US has concluded that Iran is the “most active” state sponsor of terrorism.                                                               

The China-Russia alliance has also had the negative effect of increasing the sales of advanced Russian weapons to China which in turn aims these at US Pacific forces. For example, Russia sells China its modern destroyers armed with sea-skimming cruise missiles designed to sink U.S. aircraft carriers. In June 2002 Russia began discussions to sell eight more attack submarines to China[19].   This threatens U.S. security interests in the Pacific, home to such allies as Japan and South Korea. It is estimated that Russia will sell China $20 billion in such weapons systems in the next few years. In short, at the same time that President Putin is agreeing to significant strategic arms reductions with the United States, Russia is arming China and both are arming and supporting state sponsors of terrorism. 

It is also reasonable for the United States to be concerned about the China-Russia strategic alignment because for the last four years , both have jointly condemned and opposed US efforts at national missile defense and any regional missile defense arrangements .This opposition has not prevented the Bush Administration from moving forward with a limited missile defense for the US but it may well prevent US allies from being willing to undertake regional missile defense . 

Another domain of concern is that China will influence many in the Russian leadership to adopt its highly negative view of US actions in the world. Since 1990 China has defined the US as its “main enemy” even as it sends 40% of its exports to the US gaining China $513 billion in trade surplus with the US ($820 billion if the EU and Japan are included)[20].   Even though the Clinton Administration unconditionally renewed China’s lucrative mostly one-way trade access to the US each year during the 1990s, China continually stated that it viewed the US as seeking to dominate the entire world. 

In December 1999, the Chinese Minister of Defense said regarding the United States that "war is inevitable; we cannot avoid it.[21]"   The official Chinese statement on National Defense issued in 2000 criticized the US for “neo-interventionism” and “neo-gunboat policy” done under the “pretexts of humanitarianism and human rights”[22].     

A Hong Kong newspaper reports that in April 2002, President Jiang told the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party that China does not fear "economic sanctions, blockades, or a nuclear attack launched by US hegemonism"[23] and in May 2002 a leading Chinese general and war planner said publicly that conflict with the U.S. was likely and that China would win[24].  

            At the same time Chinese Vice President Hu Juntao was here in Washington,D.C. President Jiang made the first ever visit by a Chinese President to Iran and Libya. In Libya he visited the ruins of a building destroyed in the US bombings of 1986[25].   In Iran, Jiang visited the grave of Ayatollah Khomeni[26], and in a meeting with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and President Khatami he noted that “Iran and China have common stance toward the international developments [and] the US extortionist and hegemonic policies have faced global objection …[27]”.   Both China and Iran also stated their opposition to a US invasion of Iraq[28]. 

At the same time, Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji took a similar pro-PLO,   anti-Israel position during his visit to the headquarters of the Arab League in Egypt. Soon after, China’s ally, North Korea   sold 24 medium range ballistic missiles to Egypt[29].  

One important domain where China and Russia differ is the recent military face-off between Pakistan and India. While the United States, the EU and Russia have been working to defuse the danger of a nuclear conflagration in the sub-continent, China, despite pro forma statements urging peace, continues to stoke the flames of conflict. Since the current war crisis began in December 2001, China has sent its ally Pakistan major new shipments of combat aircraft, nuclear related and other weapons systems[30] and signed new agreements for military production and "defense cooperation"[31].           

The China-Russia alliance indicates that both countries are pursuing a two-level strategy.   They seek normal relations with the West in pursuit of significant economic benefits, while at the same time cooperating discreetly to challenge the ability of the U.S. to defend its allies and to reduce its influence in the world. The challenge before the Bush Administration is to craft a counterstrategy which includes both continued normal relations – though with greater realism - while initiating a second level of actions to reduce the harmful potential of the China-Russia alliance.   A major step in this direction would be to use US economic leverage as a means of inducing both Russia and China to cease their proliferation . 

IV/ Russian Proliferation 

            For more than a decade, there has been bipartisan agreement among US presidents and the political leadership in Congress that the US and its allies are gravely threatened by the continuing transfer of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles to dangerous regimes such as those in North Korea, Iran, Iraq, and Libya, among others. Those dictatorships support international terrorism, threaten US regional allies, and year after year have demonstrated by their words and actions, that they intend to threaten and if possible harm the people of the United States.  

            In the mid-1990s, the US Congress decided that the Clinton Administration needed to act more effectively to stop proliferation and that this might occur if the intelligence agencies were required to provide biannual classified and unclassified reports to Congress on this major issue. As a result, the unclassified reports have become a means through which the legislature, citizens and experts could inform themselves about an activity that is largely conducted in secrecy, with some degree of deception and frequent denial.  

In 1997 the US Congress established a bipartisan Commission chaired by the Honorable Donald Rumsfeld to examine the threat resulting from the spread of ballistic missiles.   It had access to all available government information and produced both a classified and an unclassified report. As an example of the dangers deriving from this proliferation, the Rumsfeld Commission predicted in 1998 that“within five years” Iran could have an intercontinental range ballistic missile able to reach the U.S.[32]. Informed experts believe Iran could have its own nuclear weapons within two years; if so Iran might then be in a position to launch or threaten a nuclear attack directly against the US as well as Israel. In December 2001 a senior Iranian cleric publicly threatened to “totally destroy” Israel when Iran has its own nuclear weapons[33].  

As already noted,the latest annual US Department of State report identifies Iran as “the most active” state supporter of terrorism in the world[34].   Starting in the early 1980s, Iran has provided training, weapons and other aid for Hezbollah and Hamas, terrorist organizations attacking Israel.   This continuing Iranian indirect war of terrorism against Israel was again revealed in January 2002 when Israel captured fifty tons of weapons and explosives on a freighter, the Karine A. Its Palestinian captain admitted that the Palestinian Authority had obtained the weapons from Iran, and many of the weapons containers bore Iranian markings.   These terrorist supplies included about 3,000 pounds of C-4 explosives, which could be used by suicide bombers against civilians[35].    

The unclassified government intelligence reports on proliferation conclude that Russia and China are the two countries that have been most consistently active in transferring weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile components and expertise to hostile regimes[36].   The following table summarizes findings drawn from the most recent unclassified CIA report, released on January 30, 2002: 


North Korea, Iran and Iraq: Weapons of Mass Destruction and Ballistic Missiles[37]



Type of Weapon


Assistance from:




(Range in Miles)




North Korea





large stocksa






large stocksa






1 to 5


Ballistic Missile

Hwasong 5/6 (175-425)b



at least 500



Nodong (900)c






Taepodong (9200)d



in development






large stocksa






in development






no, intends to develop


Ballistic Missile

Shahab 1/2 (175-425)b






Shahab 3 (900)c



in development



Shahab 4/5 (9200)d



in early development






large stocksa






large stocksa






in development


Ballistic Missile

Al-Hussein (370)b






Likely Taepodongd



Intends to buy upon






end of UN sanctions



            The latest CIA report found that Russia had provided Iran with assistance in building its large stocks of chemical weapons; for its development of biological weapons (to which Cuba has also contributed[38]); with its nuclear weapons program, as well as with its mid range ballistic missile (900 miles) and its planned ICBM, the 9200 mile Shahab 4/5[39].  

Russia has provided substantial help for Iran's civil nuclear program.   It is currently helping build two light-water nuclear plants at Bushehr.   This ostensibly civil expertise and equipment can be used for nuclear bomb development. Starting in 1994, Russia began to sell a large number of weapons to Iran along with nuclear weapons- related equipment which reportedly led a 1999 US government analysis to conclude, “if not terminated, can only lead to Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapons capability.” [40]  

The stated US government view is that Iran does not have nuclear weapons[41].   But this evaluation is challenged by a senior Russian military officer. Gen.Yuri Baluyevsky, First Deputy Chief of the Russian Armed Forces’ General Staff said that “Iran does have nuclear weapons … Of course, these are non-strategic nuclear weapons. I mean these are not ICBMs with a range of more than 5,500 kilometers and more” said[42].   He goes on to deny any threat to the US only because those missiles are not capable of hitting the US. 

Russian engineers continue assisting with the development of an Iranian missile capable of striking Israel and the US forces in the Middle East, the Shehab-3 (900 miles).This is illustrated by the chart on the following page which shows how Russia, China and North Korea are aiding Iran’s missile program. Many Russian scientific firms have been assisting Iran’s missile and nuclear programs, and have been training Iranian scientists despite repeated US protests and sanctions, most recently in May 2002[43].   Russia has also sold Iran many missile components[44]. In one case, the Russian Federal Security Bureau (successor to the KGB) was accused of sending Russian weapon scientists to Iran[45].  

On a related note, it is reported the Russia has sold Iran a missile defense system. The system is based on the S-300 missile[46], which was a defense against the US Pershing missile of the 1980s.   Some in the US intelligence community believe that the Russians use it not only as a tactical and theater missile defense, but also as a national missile defense system when combined with various radar systems[47].   Russia has been marketing this system aggressively in recent years.  


The Soviet Union provided major assistance in building Iraq’s large stocks of biological and chemical weapons, as well as aid for its short range (370 miles) ballistic missile. The Soviet Union also had sold Iraq hundreds, perhaps almost 1000 SCUD missiles in the 1970s, according to an unconfirmed but credible report.   It also helped Iraq produce its own SCUDs.   The unclassified CIA reports provide no information concerning whether Russia has continued any of these programs overtly or covertly.  

North Korea 

The Soviet Union and China provided North Korea with major assistance when it began building its large stocks of chemical and biological weapons in the 1960s.   The unclassified CIA report is silent on whether this assistance continues from either Russia or China. The latest unclassified CIA report does indicate that Russia has provided major assistance in building its Nodong medium range ballistic missile (900 miles) and aid in building its 9200 mile intercontinental ballistic missile, the Taepodong[48]. 

A major Soviet missile producer guided the development of North Korea’s medium range Nodong’s missile during the Gorbachev and Yeltsin years[49].   Russian companies have also provided raw materials and advanced machine tools to assist with the Nodong.  

North Korea has also allegedly attempted to smuggle Russian plutonium, and according to one source has successfully smuggled enough material to make 7 to 9 nuclear bombs[50].  


            The unclassified CIA report lists Serbia under Milosevic as a key supplier of ballistic missile related goods to Libya[51].   In my judgment, this means Russia was providing this assistance using Serbia as a conduit. The CIA report indicates Russia is discussing assistance to a ostensibly civilian nuclear program in Libya and notes that this could lead to “opportunities to pursue technologies that could be diverted for military purposes” [52]. Russia is also Libya’s main supplier of conventional armaments, including the Tu-22 bomber which the Russians use for nuclear weapons delivery[53].  


Beyond the tactical FROG missile (42 mile range) provided by the Soviets and the various SCUDs provided by North Korea, the Russians have sold many SS-21 short range missiles (72 miles) to Syria[54].  

In early 1995, Russian General Anatoly Kuntsevich, President Yeltsin's personal adviser on chemical disarmament and Russia's highest official authority on the subject, was suspected of smuggling nerve gas precursors to Syria and dismissed from his position[55].  

The CIA reports that Syria is critically dependent on foreign sources for its chemical weapons program – possibly Russia. Further, Russia provides help for its ballistic missile program. Russia has also been cooperating with Syria on civil nuclear power – expertise that could assist a nuclear weapons program[56]. 


            We have already discussed the ever-increasing sale of advanced Russian weapons to China. Estimates are that Russia has sold about $18 billion worth of weapons to China since 1994 and plans to sell about the same amount in the next several years.  

It is suspected that during the 1990s missile designs and technology from Russia’s SS-18 multiple warhead ICBM was transferred to China by Russia[57].   This would have been incorporated into China’s ICBMs (DF-5/C-SS-4).   It is important to note that in 1990 there were allegedly two of these missiles; now there are an estimated 26[58].   China’s current ICBMs, targeted on the US, are undoubtedly more reliable and accurate due, among other factors, to this Russian assistance.  

Various Russian firms and intermediaries also transferred a large Transporter/Erector/Launcher vehicle to China[59].   This was used in one group of short range missiles and is the predecessor for the current vehicles which carry the Chinese short range missiles in Fujian targeting Taiwan and US/Japanese bases in Okinawa. China’s doctrine for missile campaigns puts a key emphasis on the road-mobility and concealability of these missiles, which would be used to strike critical military targets in a future war[60].  

There is also a great concern that Russian scientists may be helping the Chinese improve their nuclear weapons. The 1999 Cox Report noted that, “After the fall of the Soviet Union, the PRC and Russian scientists became increasingly cooperative in civilian nuclear technology, and apparently, military technology”[61].   More specifically, it is believed that Russian scientists are assisting with the miniaturization of nuclear weapons[62].   Miniaturized nuclear weapons would be more efficient; more accurate and more capable of evading missile defenses. There are also reports that the Chinese have been given access to China’s satellite-guidance system, GLONASS, which is essential for a missile’s precision targeting. 

V/ Suggested Constructive US Actions 

The US needs to be more effective in communicating how this proliferation of weapons of mass destruction might result in immense tragedy for countries near these hostile regimes such as those in Europe, South Korea, Israel and other friendly states in the Middle East as well as countries more distant such as the United States.   In addition, the US should become more effective in preventing the theft and illegal export of its own advanced military or dual use technology, should move to reestablish effective international export controls to keep such technology from potentially hostile regimes and from proliferating states such as Russia and China, and should reduce its economic support for Russia until it halts this dangerous activity.  

            In terms of specific actions and steps to accomplish these purposes, the United States should allocate the skilled manpower and budget resources necessary to: 

  1. Maintain the integrity of and control over classified information within the US government and among all US contractors with sensitive military technology information;


  1. Significantly improve and expand US counterintelligence operations in order to prevent, deter, and defeat Russian, Chinese and other espionage operations. From 1975 to 2000, more than 127 U.S. citizens were convicted for spying, most on behalf of the Soviet Union/Russia, some for China.[63] The repeated spy scandals of the 1990s and the compendium of information in the bipartisan report produced by the Select Committee chaired by Representative Christopher Cox on successful Chinese military espionage led the Congress to instruct President Clinton to improve U.S. security[64]. This resulted in Clinton signing a Presidential Decision Directive on Dec. 28, 2000 on “U.S. Counterintelligence Effectiveness-Counterintelligence for the 21st Century”. Instead of the “piecemeal and parochial” approach in place up to then it urged, in the words of Sen. Richard Shelby, then Chairman of the Intelligence Committee in the U.S. Senate, a “more policy driven …proactive...approach to identifying...the information to be protected ... enhanced information sharing between counterintelligence elements”[65].   The administration of President Bush should make this a major priority.


  1. Terminate all launches of US satellites on the rockets of Russia, China or any other foreign country except for close US allies. Such launches give a country the experience, technology and additional financial resources to bring about important improvements in its military ballistic missile capabilities since the systems are so similar---this is fundamentally contrary to US national security interests.  The EU is drafting a new code of conduct on missile proliferation to be introduced in 2002. While still urging advanced states to “exercise the necessary vigilance” when aiding other country’s space launch programs, the new language would be more lenient than the current restriction under the MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime) rules.[66]


  1. Military exchanges with Russia and China should focus on building understanding and relationships among the participants and should help foreign military personnel understand the truth about US international purposes and activities. These should not involve the transfer of operational military skills from the United States to these countries.


  1. The US must restore the full, objective functioning of the elements of the Department of Defense (such as the Defense Technology Security Administration [DTSA]) and the intelligence community responsible for the review of the potential military sensitivity of US defense technology exports.[67]   The “export virtually everything” approach of the Clinton Administration resulted in pressures on and a weakening of these organizations. In the present and future they must be fully staffed by competent professionals who are able to provide independent analyses of the national security implications of possible military/dual use technology exports.


  1. The United States should identify and expel all companies which function as fronts for any military or intelligence related entities in Russia, China or any other non-allied state.   


  1. Establish and restore an effective multilateral entity such as the Coordinating Committee on Trade with Communist Countries (COCOM) that for so many years served to prevent the US and its main allies from exporting military technologies to the former Soviet Union and its allied states.   In 1999, the US Congress urged that this step be taken in view of the relative ineffectiveness of the existing multilateral organizations such as the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), and the Wassenar Arrangement of Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies.[68] In April 2001 a bipartisan congressional study group, involving leading members of both the House and the Senate recommended improving the US export control process and also working to strengthen “multilateral export controls based on… enhanced defense cooperation with close allies and friends.”[69] This provides a good basis for making rapid progress in this little known but very significant domain of international policy.


  1. Last and perhaps most important- link current US economic benefits for Russia to its ending proliferation. Since years of requests to Russia to end this dangerous transfer of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile expertise and components have produced very few results, the time has come for the United States to inform Russia that US economic support for Russia will be reduced in direct proportion to the additional costs to the United States of defending its allies and people against the ever more serious threats resulting from these weapons in the arsenals of the hostile dictatorships.   During the first year that would probably suggest a minimum reduction of 20% in direct bilateral assistance and perhaps comparable reductions in US support for international financial assistance and measures to relieve or stretch out payment of Russia’s approximately $150 billion foreign debt.


An incentive approach might consider reducing some portion of Russia’s international debt in return for verified cessation of proliferation of all components and expertise of all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles.  

In international politics, words and declarations alone often do not bring about improvements changes in the negative actions of foreign governments.   It is time for the United States to act with seriousness of purpose to persuade Russia to completely terminate its continuing proliferation of components and expertise for weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles.


North Korea’s Missiles and Their Targets

Text Box:  This chart is somewhat dated and does not include new information about North Korea’s missiles.


Taken from Office of the Secretary of Defense: Proliferation: Threat and Response, January 2001, p. 12



Text Box:  Iran’s Missiles and Their Targets

Taken from Office of the Secretary of Defense: Proliferation: Threat and Response, January 2001, p. 37



Iraq’s Missiles and Their Targets

Taken from Office of the Secretary of Defense: Proliferation: Threat and Response, January 2001, p. Text Box:  41

Russian Conventional Weapons Sales- an Illustrative Overview



Kilo Submarine

S-300 Air Defense System

Tu-22 Bomber

Su-27/30 Fighters

MiG-29 Fighter

T-72/T-90 Tanks

State Sponsors of Terror







North Korea











































Four (Eight more to come)















Jane’s Fighting Ships, 2000-2001

Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft, 2000-2001

Jane’s Armour and Artillery, 2000-2001


[1] Constantine C. Menges Ph.D., a Senior Fellow with the Hudson Institute, served as

Special Assistant for National Security Affairs to the President and as National Intelligence Officer with the CIA. His forthcoming book is 2007: The Preventable War: The Strategic Challenge of Russia and China. [Contact tel.#s 202/ 974-2410 or 202/ 223-7770 ]. The author thanks Mr. Marcus Sgro of the Hudson Institute for his excellent work in helping to prepare this testimony.

[2] See C. Menges, “Russia, China, and What’s Really on the Table”, Washington Post, July 29, 2001

[3] Nancy San Martin, “Cuba Has Sold to Iran Biotechnology That Can Be Used to Make Biochemical Arms, Scientist Says”, Miami Herald, Washington, October 11, 2001

[4] CIA, Foreign Missile Developments, op. cit. and CIA, Unclassified Report, op. cit.

[5] Central Intelligence Agency, Unclassified Report, op. cit.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Central Intelligence Agency, Unclassified Report, op. cit.

[8] See Richard Fisher, “Foreign Arms Acquisition and PLA Modernization” in James Lilley and David Shambaugh, China’s Military Faces the Future (AEI Press, 1999, 128-130

[9] Bill Gertz, “China Adds 6 ICBMs to its Arsenal, Plans 2 more before moving its only plant”, Washington Times, July 21, 1998, A1

[10] US Government Assistance to and Cooperative Activities with the Newly Independent States of the Former Soviet Union, Department of State, January 2001

[11] Speaker’s Advisory Group on Russia, Christopher Cox, Chairman, Russia’s Road to Corruption, US House of Representatives, September 2000

[12]As cited by Bill Gertz, op.cit., October 17, 2000.

[13] Barry Schweid, “Bush Administration Reaction to the Russia-China Treaty”, AP, July 17, 2001

[14] Ibid.

[15] John Pomfret and Peter Baker, “China’s Leader in Moscow to Sign Pact”, Washington Post, July 15, 2001, A1

[16] “Russia: Putin considers possibility of enlarged Shanghai group”, Moscow Interfax in English 7 Jun 02, AFS Number CEP20020607000232

[17] “Russia: Shanghai Cooperation Summit in Petersburg ends, final documents signed”, ITAR-TASS in English, 7 Jun 02, AFS Number CEP20020607000142;

[18] Central Intelligence Agency, Foreign Missile Developments and the Ballistic Missile Threat to 2015, Summary of a National Intelligence Estimate released in January 2002;

Central Intelligence Agency, Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions, 1 January through 30 June 2001, released January 30 2002

see also C. Menges and M. Sgro, North Korea, Iran, and Iraq: Building Weapons of Mass Destruction and Ballistic Missiles, Washington, DC: The Hudson Institute, 2002.

[19] John Pomfret, “China to Buy 8 More Russian Submarines”, The Washington Post, June 25, 2002; A15

[20] see Menges, 2007-The Preventable War; op. cit..

[21] Chi Haotian, PRC Minister of Defense at a December 1999 Speech at the Chinese Military Command College, quoted in Hong Kong's Cheng Ming, January 4, 2000

[22] PRC Government White Paper, “China’s National Defense in 2000”, available online at

[23] Speech by Jiang Zemin to the Politburo, quoted in Li Tzu-Ching, "Jiang Zemin's Eight Major Concerns", Hong Kong Cheng Ming, May 1, 2002, p. 14-15, AFS Number CPP20020502000052

[24] Chinese General Huang Bin in an Interview, "Peace Will Prevail Only When the Two Sides of the Taiwan Strait Are Reunified", Hong Kong Ta Kung Pao, May 13, 2002 AFS Number: CPP20020513000048

[25] Li Nien-ting, "'US Visit Show' Will Test Hu's Political Skills", Hong Kong Sing Tao Jih Pao 24 Apr 02 p a1; AFS Number CPP20020424000100

[26] “Chinese president pays tribute to Imam Khomeyni”, Tehran IRNA, Apr 21, 2002, FBIS Transcribed Text - IAP20020421000040. IRNA is Iran’s official state-run news agency.

[27]Khamene'i tells PRC's Jiang of desire to expand ties, Lambasts US policies”, Tehran IRNA, April 21, 2002; AFS Number IAP20020421000046.   

[28] Tan Hongwei, "Jiang Zemin Says: China Hopes the Legacies of Gulf War Be Properly Resolved as Early as Possible",   Beijing Zhongguo Xinwen She (China's official news service for overseas Chinese) April 20, 2002, FBIS Translated Text -   CPP20020420000045

[29] Frank Gaffney, Jr. in statement before the House Armed Services Committee, May 23, 2002; later quoted in “Egypt purchased 24 N. Korean missiles, House panel told”,, June 4, 2002;

[30] The Australian, January 14, 2002

[31] William C. Triplett, “Gen. Xiong pays a visit to Pakistan”, The Washington Times, March 19, 2002,

[32] Report of the Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States, Executive Summary, Washington, DC July 15, 1998

[33] From FBIS, World News Connection, cited in Constantine Menges, “China, Russia, Iran and Our Next Move”, The Washington Times, February 10, 2002

[34] Patterns in Global Terrorism, US Department of State, April 30, 2001

[35] Menges, “China, Russia, Iran”, op. cit.

[36] Central Intelligence Agency, Foreign Missile Developments, op. cit., and Unclassified Report, op. cit.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Nancy San Martin, “Cuba Has Sold to Iran Biotechnology That Can Be Used to Make Biochemical Arms, Scientist Says”, Miami Herald, Washington, October 11, 2001

[39] CIA, Foreign Missile Developments, op. cit. and CIA, Unclassified Report, op. cit.

[40]Bill Gertz, “Letter Showed Gore Made Russian Deal," Washington Times, October 17, 2000, A-1.

[41] CIA, Foreign Missile Developments, op. cit.

[42] “A Russian general's statement about Iran's nukes fails to register with media”, Middle East Report, as quoted in, May 28, 2002.   

[43] State Department Daily Press Briefing, May 20, 2002, op. cit.

[44] The Center for Nonproliferation Studies has documented these Russian actions at

[45] Gertz, Bill, "Russia Conspiring with Iran on Missiles", The Washington Times, February 23, 1998, pp. A1 &A18

[46] Demir and o’Sullivan, op cit.

[47] See the work of former DOD analyst William T Lee, The ABM Treaty Charade: A Study in Elite Ilusion and Delusion, 1997. See also Frank Gaffney, “With Friends Like These …”, Washington Times, June 5, 2001, A17; and Kenneth Timmerman, “Missile Defense Deployed in Russia”, Insight, April 30, 2001, pp. 14-33

[48] CIA, Foreign Missile Developments, op. cit.

[49] Federation of American Scientists website,

[50] Die Stern, March 1993, cited in Larry Nickish, “North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Program”, Congressional Research Service Issue Brief for Congress, Updated December 6, 2001

[51] Central Intelligence Agency, Unclassified Report, op. cit.

[52] Ibid.

[53] Ibid.

[54] Central Intelligence Agency, Foreign Missile Developments, op. cit.

[55] Federation of American Scientists Website,

[56] Central Intelligence Agency, Unclassified Report, op. cit.

[57] See Richard Fisher, “Foreign Arms Acquisition and PLA Modernization” in James Lilley and David Shambaugh, China’s Military Faces the Future (AEI Press, 1999, 128-130

[58] Bill Gertz, “China Adds 6 ICBMs to its Arsenal, Plans 2 more before moving its only plant”, Washington Times, July 21, 1998, A1

[59] Fishser, op. cit.

[60] Wang Houqing, Zhang Xingye, Huang Bin, Zhan Xuexi ed. Zhanyi Xue or Operations (PRC National Defense University Publishers, Beijing, May 2000), p. 175.

[61] Report of the United States House of Representatives Select Committee on U.S. National Security and
Military/Commercial Concerns with the People's Republic of China
, 1999; Chapter 2

[62] John Pomfret, “Russians Help China Modernize its Arsenal; New Military Ties Raise US Concerns”, Washington Post, February 10, 2000, A17

[63] Sen. Richard Shelby, Intelligence and Espionage in the 21st Century , Washington D.C.: The Heritage Foundation, May 18, 2001, 1

[64] US House of Representatives, Select Committee on National Security and Military/ Commercial Concerns from the People’s Republic of China, Washington D.C., May 25, 1999

[65] Ibid,6

[66] Brooks Tigner, “EU Hopes Code of Conduct Will Cool Missile Proliferation,” Defense News, July 9-15, 2001, pp. 1, 4. The US should resist such liberalization, but cannot effectively do so when violating the spirit of the rules itself by aiding China’s missile program through satellite launchings.

[67] Reps.Dan Burton, Curt Weldon and Dana Rohrabacher wrote the Secretary of Defense in May 2001 to express their support for an effective DTSA, see Bill Gertz, Roman Scarborough, “Inside the Ring”, Washington Times, June 15, 2001, A 12.   The investigative reporter, Kenneth R. Timmerman, (Selling Out America, Ex Libris 2000, Chapter 8)wrote that a high technology area of California could be called “China’s 22nd province” because there were hundreds of such front companies for the Chinese military and military production system with offices there, many listing no telephone numbers or having any of the facilities for normal business operations.  

[68] CSIS, Study Group on Enhancing Multilateral Export Controls for US National Security, Washington, DC April 2001, 1

[69] Ibid.

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