Just before U.S. President Clinton visited south Asia, the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) reported that Pakistan had nearly completed work on a plutonium reactor at Khushab, near Lahore, and had built a dozen garages for missile launchers at a nearby airbase. Satellite photos were released showing the missile base, which is within range of targets inside India. The two countries are in a tense relationship over the Himalayan state of Kashmir.
"Pakistan has laid the groundwork for a force of dozens of nuclear-tipped missiles capable of striking Indian cities and military bases," said John Pike of FAS. The plutonium from the reactor will probably be used in nuclear warheads bought from China. "But Pakistan is in danger of having most of its nuclear eggs in one basket, which would be a tempting target for a pre-emptive Indian attack in a time of crisis," Mr. Pike said. During Mr. Clinton's visit, neither the Indian nor Pakistan authorities made any official concessions toward curtailing their nuclear readiness.
European Union defence ministers have established a timetable for creating a security force. They plan to create the "rapid reaction force" of 50,000 to 60,000 troops by 2003, thereby lessening Europe's reliance on U.S. troops and military infrastructures. However German Defence Minister Rudolf Scharping denied that the force represented an attempt to sideline the United States by eroding the NATO alliance. The successive Balkan crises provided the impetus for Europeans to take on a greater role for policing their own continent.
The Yugoslav Telecommunications Ministry closed down Radio Boom 93 on March 8. Inspectors seized an essential component of the station's transmitter system and sealed the antenna system. Radio Boom 93 is the only independent station in Pozarevac, the home town of Slobodan Milosevic and a thorn in his regime's side. The closure is another demonstration that the regime intends to bring media to heel by the spring. Further information on the media in Yugoslavia is available at: <www.freeb92.net>.
Association of Independent Electronic Media, Belgrade.
The Global Network (GN), an organization with over 100 affiliate groups around the world, will be holding major peace-in-space events in Washington, D.C. on April 14-17. On Friday, April 14 the GN will organize a major protest at the Treasury Department to highlight the waste of billions of dollars on Star Wars research and development. On Saturday, April 15 the GN will hold an International Conference on Preventing an Arms Race in Space at American University. Speakers will include Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Sen. Tom Harkin. On Sunday, April 16 the GN will hold an International Peace in Space Strategy Meeting at American University (participating will be activists from around the world who work on space issues). On Monday, April 17 a Keep Space for Peace lobby day will take place on Capitol Hill.
Check the GN website at <http://www.globenet.free-online.co.uk>.
The Pentagon has planned to test its current version of Star Wars, the proposed Ballistic Missile Defence system, and to send its recommendations to the President by late June. This schedule involved the completion by April 27 of a $100 million integrated Flight Test of the National Missile Defence (NMD) system. However, that test date was postponed because the previous test of January 18 failed, requiring a two-month delay to appraise and rectify the fiasco.
Nevertheless, the Pentagon may still recommend a positive decision to deploy the system, even if the June test also fails. And if it does so, the mood in Congress is such that the President will be hard pressed to put a hold on NMD, though it would abrogate the Treaty that the Russians regard as the cornerstone of the entire arms control system. The Pentagon may be anticipating abrogation, though that will mean that all restraints will disappear.
The 20-year life cycle cost of the planned NMD system was earlier estimated at $38 billion, but the Pentagon later said that the total costs have yet to be determined.
Col. Daniel Smith, USA (Ret.), Center for Defense Information.
A summer institute will be held in Conflict Transformation Across Cultures June 5-16 and 19-23 in Brattleboro, Vermont. It is a progressional program for peacebuilders from around the world. Participants can enroll in a 2-3 week residential program or a graduate certificate program.Phone: 802/258-3339. Web site: <www.sit.edu/conflict>.