Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation CFACNP

See also: The Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy, UK, and Nonproliferation Policy Education Center NPEC. – Linked with Analysis of the new START Treaty.

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Nukes of Hazard, a project of CFACNP: Back in February I blogged about the ongoing delays surrounding the delivery of Russia’s S-300 PMU-1 air defense system to Iran. 

At the time, Russia cited technical problems as being the cause of the delay whilst simultaneously promising Tehran that they would still honor the sale.  But according to a new story from Russian media outlet RIA Novosti, it seems that the Iranians are still no closer to getting their hands on the advanced air defense system.  This time the delay has been explained as being caused by ongoing ‘talks’, again with the Russian caveat that ‘contracts have been signed, and they are being implemented’.

Since the S-300 contract was signed in December 2005, it would seem that the only talks that could be delaying delivery are those not involving the Iranians.  As Richard Weitz recently pointed out, in light of the ongoing nuclear impasse, its likely that Israel and the U.S are exerting significant diplomatic pressure on Moscow to delay delivery for as long as possible.  Iran’s hope that ‘Russian officials [are not] swayed by political pressure from other countries’ reflects their frustration at what appears to be the continuing success of Israeli and American efforts.  But as Weitz suggests, these efforts ‘will matter little if China chooses to sell them its HQ-9 surface-to-air missile, which is characterized as “a not-so-bad Russian S-300 for less money.”’  Which is where things get interesting.

Just three days ago it was reported that Russia had shipped China 15 batteries of the S-300 missile defense system.  According to a Russian language source (translated using Babelfish) these missiles were of the advanced PMU-2 variant, and were ordered in August 2007. This Interfaks source suggests the Chinese ordered 15 battalions, not the 15 batteries reported by RIA Novosti, which would be a far larger order.

China’s purchase of the S-300 system is nothing new, having ordered an initial batch of the PMU-1 variant back in 1992.  However, following substantial orders in the early 90s, Russia gave China clearance to begin manufacturing their own clone of the S-300 PMU1 in 1995, which Beijing called the Hongqi-10 (HQ-10).  China then built upon this technology and since 2002, has been producing its very own longer-range modification – the HQ-15.  But given that the HQ-15s 200 km extended range now matches that of the S-300 PMU2, why did China feel the need to order 15 battalions / batteries from Russia in 2007?

One explanation could be that despite its similar range, the HQ-15 might not yet be on par with the PMU-2 system in other technical areas … (full text).

Links:

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty on wikipedia;

IAEA’s Information Circular INFCIRC/140, 22 April 1970, 5 pdf pages;

UN Office for Disarmament Affairs UNODA: Homepage, about the Treaty NPT, its Text;

Preparatory Committee for the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, 4 – 15 May 2009 in New York – Third Session;

Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons NPT, 3 – 28 May 2010: A world free of nuclear weapons would be a global public good of the highest order. The 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) will be held in May 2010 at UN Headquarters in New York. The President-elect of the Review Conference is Ambassador Libran N. Cabactulan of the Philippines … (full text);

Google News-results (Avril 12, 2010/ 11 h am MEZ) on Nonproliferation Treaty NPT.

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