A rift between Russia' top two military leaders about the future of Russia's intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) force went public last week following Chief of the General Staff, Anatoli Kvashnin's, proposal to reorganize the Strategic Rocket Force (SRF). Russia's Minister of Defense, Marshal Igor Sergeyev, has sharply criticized the plan as "criminal stupidity and an attempt to harm Russia's national interests." His position has been echoed not only by the SRF but also by the Russian media. Despite this opposition Kvashnin's plan reflects a growing feeling in the Russian military that conventional forces, and particularly operations in Chechnya, unfairly bear the brunt of a tight military budget. Under Sergeyev, who used to head Russia's strategic forces, the needs of the ICBM forces have received priority.
Beijing's proliferation record may stall efforts to grant China permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with the U.S. At issue are allegations that China continues to provide missile components and technical advice to other states. While China is not technically a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), it has pledged to abide by MTCR guidelines.
The failed test of the national missile defense system on July 8 was a humiliating setback for the program. In the $100 million integrated flight test-5 (IFT-5), the high speed interceptor missile fired from the Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean was supposed to destroy a dummy warhead launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The exoatmospheric kill vehicle (EKV) failed to separate from its booster rocket; program officials had not even included this possibility on their list of test concerns.
U.S. and North Korean officials made no concrete progress after three days of talks in Malaysia. U.S. officials are hopeful that the next round would take place before the end of the year. However, no date has been set. The near-term goal of the talks is to solidify plans for a visit to Washington by Kim Yong-sun, who would be the highest-ranking North Korean official to visit the U.S. Capitol.
History of the Nuclear Age Series
Proliferation Roundtable with Frances Fitzgerald
Carnegie Endowment Event