Defense Statecraft

Monday, May 08, 2017

Restart the Raptor, It's the Cheapest Option. (Really!)

With the proliferation of 5th generation fighter aircraft to Russia and China, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the F-35 is insufficient for gaining air superiority over a peer competitor in the near future. The F-35, while a high-tech marvel in its own right, suffers from too many design compromises to serve as a dedicated air-superiority platform against competitors built to rival the F-22. While the F-22 remains the world’s best fighter in service, it is no longer in production, and to restart the line would require an eye-watering amount of money. Therefore, critics rightly point out that new-build F-22As would be foolish at this point in time.


However, an upgraded F-22 variant could offer an alternative to a new 6th generation fighter design. By building off a pre-existing design, Lockheed Martin could create a high-performance aircraft faster and cheaper than a completely new aircraft. A suitable design may already be available in the form of the X-44 MANTA concept, a tailless delta-wing Raptor variant which was purposed by never built in the 2000s. The X-44 would have offered greater mobility and payload than the F-22. While such an aircraft might not offer as radical off an increase in performance that a new-build 6th generation fighter might, a hypothetical “5.5 gen” fighter would likely prove more than sufficient when combating the J-20 and PAK-FA. Therefore, a new-build F-22 derivative is worthy of consideration. 


ADDENDUM: A critic might suggest that the cheapest option would be to avoid fighting World War III in the first place, but where is the fun in that? 

There is No Trump Doctrine and There Never Will Be

                Much has been made of Sec. Tillerson’s recent speech elaborating upon President Trump’s “America First” foreign policy. Critics allege it makes a grave error by divorcing American values from US foreign policy. Supporters suggest that it represents a bold new era of American confidence and power. Both miss the mark by attributing any sort of strategic or ideological coherence whatsoever to the Trump administration.

                Critics of “America First” hear echoes of Lindbergh, and darkly suggest the phrase indicates fascist sympathies. While “America First’s” checkered past doubtlessly helps sell it to the shadier parts of Mr. Trump’s base, it must be noted that Trump only started using “America First” after it was used to describe his foreign policy in an interview. Mr. Trump, it must be noted, was not aware what the interviewer was referencing, nor that he was doing so in a negative fashion. While parts of the Trump administration identify as part of a global far-right, Trump himself lacks the intelligence and discipline for a coherent ideology. Thus, so far as the President remains the final arbiter of his administration’s values, the Trump administration does not stand for much internationally beyond anti-trade sentiments and an inchoate hatred of Mexicans.

                Supporters of Trump’s policies see a hardnosed realpolitik. This is delusional. The Trump administration has stayed silent as Russia interfered in the electoral process of the United States and its allies. The US Navy has not engaged in a freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea since Jan. 20. All the Tomahawks in the world cannot erase the feeble and supine approach Trump has taken to Moscow and Beijing. The much-vaunted Taiwan call was not a masterstroke of strategy, it was the error of an amateur who didn’t know any better, panicked, and capitulated. The fact that China now feels bold enough to suggest it has a right to veto who the PACOM commander is speaks volumes as to how strong the PRC thinks Trump’s America is.

                Normally, this would be the part where solutions would be offered for the problems noted. However, the State Department and DoD are critically understaffed. Furthermore, the Trump administration feels no great need to fill these positions, as it desires to kill the administrative state and replace it with Jared Kushner. Therefore, the United States cannot be said to possess the tools needed to properly address the situation, nor can it be realistically expected to in the near future. In short, we are probably doomed.


                

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Nuclear Weapons Can't Kill Aliens

In many science fiction dooms-day type scenario movies the nations of the world employ, with varying degrees of success, nuclear weapons against alien space ships. Generally, the practicalities of how these nuclear weapons are launched into space at the aliens is ignored. Continuing with that trend the next question of practicality is whether a nuclear weapon will do anything in space.

NASA's online history archive says nuclear weapons do things in space. In fact, in one document citing data apparently collected in the 1950's the effects of nuclear weapons detonating in space can be even more deadly, albeit perhaps not as kinetically destructive, as those detonating in an atmosphere. The radiation released by a nuclear weapon detonating in space can damage electrical equipment and kill personnel manning space stations.

This XKCD comic is not directly relevant to this post but it is amusing.


If the hypothetical alien invaders are aboard unshielded alien invasion vessels and a nuclear device is detonated nearby they may very well die from radiation exposure - assuming these hypothetical alien invaders are anything like humans. The main problem is, then, how does a mostly gravity well-bound state like any state on Earth effectively fling a nuclear weapon at vile alien would be conquerors?

In the vastness of space even the vast effects of a nuclear weapon are not so indiscriminate as to not require precision aiming. While today's rocket technology can surely be employed to deliver a nuclear warhead almost anywhere near Earth the preparation might take far too long for it to be a practical alien swatting implement.

Can current ICBM's be used to launch our nuclear deterrent at invading alien ships to sufficiently deter them from carrying out nefarious alien plans with radiation? The answer appears to be no - at least not without significant re-engineering. At this point the U.S.' defense policy makers should really be compelled to ask themselves; "Why can't the U.S.A., the natural defender and champion of mankind, launch nuclear weapons at hypothetical alien invaders' ships reliably and on short notice?" If the U.S. military is capable of striking at aliens outside of low earth orbit with nuclear weaponry then why hasn't the public been made aware of this? To prevent mass panic in the eventuality of an alien incursion it is vital to know that Earth is well defended by a sturdy roentgen barrier.


Venezuela's Economic Death Spiral

Legitimate political and social concerns aside, Venezuela’s ongoing nationwide protests are hastening its economic breakdown. The economic standstill caused in many areas and the effect on the government’s functioning mean that Venezuela’s critical oil extraction and refinement sector is plummeting. Of course, Venezuela’s economy was already on a steady decline and the oil sector, partly due to low oil prices, was following it.

However, whatever hope (seemingly none) existed for a campaign to repair the Venezuelan government’s most critical sole source of funding is now dead. Because the government is currently in the midst of a political crisis as well as an economic one critical economic problems are becoming even more difficult to address.

A recent political flash point, where Venezuela’s supreme court disbanded congress, may have been the result of the opposition minded congress resisting plans by the Maduro administration to seek an influx of foreign funds to pay off its debts by allowing foreign firms to buy large portions of state industries such as in the oil sector.

Maduro has referred to the protests as part of, or aiding, a fascist coup against his left wing government. With the ongoing failure of the security forces to quell the massive protests, continuing shortages of staple goods like food and toilet paper and general lawlessness in many areas the protests are likely to pressure the government even more. Many have been injured in clashes between protestors and security forces the but Venezuelans may feel the pain of an injured long after those wounds heal. Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chavez mismanaged Venezuela’s resource extraction intensive economy for more than a decade and the effects are now approaching a point beyond which they are not quickly salvageable.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Should We Even Care if North Korea Gets an ICBM?

Unless a deal is reached or the USA launches a preventative strike, North Korea is going to get its hands on a working ICBM sooner rather than later. This has led to many dire predictions, including the breakup of the US alliances with Japan and South Korea and the vaporization of San Francisco. Obviously, were these things to happen, they would be very bad. However, the United States has successfully stared down the Russians and Chinese for decades and they have far more ICBMs pointed at our cities than North Korea could ever hope to acquire.
            The common retort to this line of thinking is that North Korea is more of an apocalyptic doomsday cult than it is a normal country, and thus previous norms of conduct do not apply. However, this leads to a very problematic road of thought. If one ICBM by an “insane” regime is enough to decouple the United States from its allies in Asia, then Japan and Korea’s alliances with the USA were fundamentally worthless. By this logic, the USA’s defense guarantee was only good when it thought it wouldn’t actually have to fight a nuclear war, and the entire Cold War was the world’s most expensive Game of Pretend. This not only misreads history, it also calls into question why any nation would ever ally with the United States.
            While in an ideal world, Kim Jong Un would not be entrusted with anything more dangerous than a spork, the US alliance structure has proven remarkably resilient. Granting Kim the power to usher in the apocalypse gives him far more power than he deserves. Without the fear he instills in the world with his atomic saber-rattling, he is a petulant nobody. He deserves to be treated as such.

            

Lessons from Naval History: Mileage May Vary

In which the writer argues for a return to a vision of peace time naval policy not unlike that maintained by 17th and 18th century navies. During this period it was not uncommon for larger warships to be mothballed or brought to drydock when not needed for wartime operations. Instead, the navies of the period would rely on numerous smaller vessels of varying size commonly referred to as frigates.

Today, maintaining a modern, combat ready navy is just as expensive as it was in centuries ago. The value of capital ships like aircraft carriers which dominate modern naval surface warfare thought is increasingly questionable given the advancements in area denial anti-ship missiles technologies. Perhaps, although for varied reasons, there is value still to be found in a two-tiered navy system. One navy for constant use – patrolling commercial sea lanes, protecting foreign interests and acting as a first line of defense and offense. Of course, given technological advances and the size and complexity of modern warships fielding a competent fleet of carriers and other large ships from an inactive reserve would be nigh impossible.

Image result for 18th century large warshipRelated image

Pictured: Not the same thing, but similarly expensive.

The reserve element of this theoretical two-tiered fleet would then need to be conserved in a different way. However, the problem of skill and experience would always be a problem. The Royal Navy mitigated this by relying on the country’s large population of civilian sailors. Even the navies of the age of sail, however, could not overcome the problem of a slow, painful rearming process.

It is currently difficult to imagine such a solution to the great expense of a global navy despite numerous historical examples. Certainly, the political and military leadership of the U.S. would not accept the damage to readiness and capabilities assumed under such a system. Today, thankfully, the question of whether the Navy’s cost versus effectiveness is not under much stress. However, should the U.S. Navy face more potent challenges in the future from China and need to expand to meet it the prospect of the naval reserve playing a more core role in military readiness may become tolerable.

Expanding Infrastructure Offers Growth - Economic and Risk

As Colombia’s long term internal conflict appears to be winding down and the economy grows at a healthy pace the Andean state is embarking on a large infrastructure improvement and expansion program. Colombia possesses significant natural resources and growth potential – locked away behind notoriously rugged terrain. In recent years the Government of Colombia announced a massive, multi-billion dollar, decades long infrastructure project encompassing roadways, canals, ports, and navigability of rivers.

What does such an investment mean for the security of Colombia? Of the many elements of national security that the government of Colombia is attempting to address, ranging from food security to state presence in rural areas, the security of Colombia’s borders have rarely been threatened. To some extent this is because Colombia’s most potentially threatening neighbors have not had reason to seek conflict with Colombia. However, should Brazil or Venezuela one day be drawn into a conflict with Colombia, they would have a great deal of difficulty threatening the Colombian interior due to the natural barriers separating the countries.

Image result for colombia infrastructure expansion
A map of initial projects part of Colombia 4G road expansion campaign.

Part of the infrastructure investment plan may be connected to linking Colombia to Brazil with an Amazonian road not unlike projects planned with Peru and Bolivia. A direct high capacity road link to its Southern neighbor is not likely to be a direct national security threat anytime soon. However, the direct land connection to the Brazilian interior could, in either direction, lead to the expansion of Brazilian and Colombian criminal organizations or the spread of diseases.

On the Venezuelan front the prospect of a Venezuelan crisis in the near future makes increased connectivity with the region concerning. The effects of refugees or violence from Venezuela would be felt more acutely if the links to the Colombian interior were strengthened. On the Eastern half of Colombia the value of expanded canals and the potential for a significant increase in shipping from the Colombian interior bordering Venezuela to Colombian ports in the North provides a new, large vector for the spread of diseases, people and crime into the Caribbean.

How can NASA benefit from America's love of defense?

In recent years funding and policy maker enthusiasm for NASA projects has been inconsistent and spotty. NASA’s numerous projects, not just the most publicly visible space exploration ventures, are vital to the U.S.’s current and continuing national security. There are many reasons for congressional unwillingness to reliably and substantially fund NASA. Among these is competition with the Department of Defense (and other agencies) for funding for (at least superficially) similar project portfolios.

One way NASA could increase its influence in Washington and attract more attention and funding is to portray itself more favorably. Clearly, Congress likes the military and so Congress gets lots of money. Congress (and the public) hold the military in high esteem for many reasons. Perhaps NASA should seek to emulate the military in its self-presentation.

While there are limitations to the militarization of space, and that development is not one of NASA’s core goals, there is nothing stopping NASA from making cosmetic changes.

NASA should adopt snazzy, martial uniforms for employees who make public appearances. These uniforms should be futuristic but avoid easy pitfalls like looking too much like Star Trek uniforms. Starfleet is far too peace loving and unsexy to attract funding. While NASA’s mission and projects may be very futuristic and cutting edge by nature their public image, aside from the cool factor of rockets, is simply far too boring and civilian.

For a moment, pretend you are an influential Representative or Senator considering the U.S.' budget. Consider the public profile and appearances of various federal institutions as you contemplate cuts and deficits.

NASA as it is today. Intelligent, friendly and boring. Small plastic models of satellites - unimpressive and low energy. Very difficult to justify spending billions on.

NASA if they simply adopted similar uniform standards as the Navy. An image which summons thoughts like; adventure, excitement, return on investment, national security, cool. Easy to justify funding for.

What NASA could be. Fantastic, futuristic, cutting edge, mirroring the strength and martial spirit of the United States. A future any sane politician can invest in. This is a NASA engineer with a blank cheque.
The future of American space supremacy depends on a sturdy investment in the future.

And We're Live In 3... 2... 1

The U.S. military's  THAAD missile-defense system in South Korea is live.

It will take time to become fully operational, but THAAD is now capable of detecting and intercepting short and medium-range missiles. Specifically, North Korean missiles. THAAD was originally deployed last July after a series of North Korean test launches.

THAAD has long been a subject of heated discussion and not particularly well-liked by China. Back in Feburary, China's ambassador to Seoul, Qiu Guohong, said THAAD's deployment would instantly ruin the Seoul-Beijing relationship. China doesn't appreciate North Korea's aggressive weapons tests either. But why? THAAD, at the most basal level, is a protection for South Koreans from North Korean nuclear weapons. THAAD can only intercept missiles during the terminal phase. What it cannot do is destroy missiles mid-course, intercept Chinese missiles, or used to detect really anything regarding Chinese capabilities. 

Ultimately, China's dislike for the U.S.-THAAD system is purely strategic in nature. Regardless of where the defense system is stationed, China views it as a threat and yet another U.S. advancement to maintain control of global power. It is no secret that China seeks to grasp some of that power for itself, and it is likely the U.S. missile defense system is seen as a direct threat to China's sovereignty. 

Just yesterday, North Korea decided to thank the United States for assuming a harsh stance against its nuclear program. Because of this, North Korea said it will hasten efforts to make progress, which means more test launches. In fact, the statement issued by North Korea touted this effort as "maximum pressure and engagement."

Will be interesting to follow China through this situation and how it handles THAAD if it is needed, North Korean aggressiveness, and President Trump's pretty hard stance on military intervention in the Korean Peninsula. 

Duterte's Pivot to China



On May 1st, Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte stated that he was open to joint military exercises with China after visiting a Chinese warship docked in Davao City. His comments come at an interesting time. Two days earlier, he had a phone call with American president Donald Trump. During this phone call, Trump invited him to visit the White House. As China continues its actions in the South China Sea, the United States has continued to be concerned about maritime security in the region. Trump’s invitation may signal the United States trying to keep the Philippines from moving too close to China. Duterte’s recent comments and his talk with Trump may signal him trying to balance both powers.

Duterte has been a controversial president for a multitude of reasons. However, his cozying up to China has raised eyebrows. In July 2016, the Philippines’ territorial dispute in the South China Sea was resolved in the Philippines’ favor. However, shortly afterwards, Duterte announced that he did not think that the Philippines would be able to just take the Scarborough Shoals back from China. He also insinuated that the United States would not help the Philippines if a military confrontation ensued.

Duterte has done much to distance the Philippines from the United States, which has complicated the US-Philippines relationship. It seems like Duterte is trying to appease China. China is an important economic partner to the Philippines. In the Chinese Vice Premier’s latest visit to the Philippines in March, the countries signed a new trade deal and two agreements for major infrastructure projects in the Philippines.

The phone call with Trump may show that Duterte wants to gain more from the United States as well. The Philippines is currently a part of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. The United States is one of the Philippines’ largest foreign investors. Duterte is still enjoying the benefits of a relationship with the United States. He realizes that there are a lot of benefits to enjoy with a closer relationship with China. It seems his loyalty lies with whoever is willing to be beneficial to the Philippines. It will be interesting to see if Duterte can continue this balancing act as things continue to heat up in the South China Sea. 

US Worry Over $1.7 Billion Allocation Should Not Be Our Primary Concern


           Are U.S. taxpayers funding both sides of the Iranian/Saudi Arabia proxy wars and arms race? Some analysts believe that the U.S. has inadvertently payed for some of Iran's military expenditures due to the $1.7 billion the U.S. Treasury put into to Iran's Central Bank in January. The Obama administration said the $1.7 billion payment money was allocated regarding the dispute about Iran's arms purchases before the revolution of 1979. This budgetary conflict resolution was to be considered a bargain for the taxpayer because the U.S. may have to pay a steeper interest rate had the matter been adjudicated at The Hague. Still many Republicans and some Democrats feel this money was related directly to the recent January hostage situation as a payoff for a prisoner exchange.
            Iran’s most recent budget is now public and shows that it “allows $19 billion to go to the military establishment – the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), regular military, and Defense Ministry – a 90-percent increase in military spending compared to the previous year.” Money toward defense includes the government giving the military the $1.7 billion from the US settlement. Iran’s financial upswing is primarily due to the lifting of sanctions brought on by the JCPOA and new dealings with China and Russia. The massive increase in its military budget gives Iran resources to further its involvement in proxy wars between Saudi Arabia.

            Iran is a non-Arab and non-Sunni country, and these factors are important in Iranian interaction with Saudi Arabia and other Arab states. As a general principle, Tehran also seeks to eliminate U.S. influence in the region. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reported arms purchases by nations in the Middle East had increased during the past decade and accounted for 25 percent of global weapons sales between 2011 and 2015. Dr. Nawaf Obaid, a fellow at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh asserted that Saudi Arabia is certain it could have defeated Iran and its outdated military infrastructure in any direct confrontation. To make sure this remains true, the Kingdom should make sure it maintains nuclear parity with Iran, he added. A permanent bloc of like-minded Arab states working together to ensure regional security and stability will be necessary to roll back Iran's dangerous interference in Arab countries. Obaid described the government in Tehran as an enemy of the Arab nations. Whether or not the US contributed $1.7 billion dollars to the Iranian defense budget and why, this should hardly be the main concern in the future of its growing military strength and on-going proxy wars with Saudi Arabia and neighboring Arab countries.
http://www.defenddemocracy.org/media-hit/saeed-ghasseminejad-iran-doubles-down-on-its-military-budget/
https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-06-09/u-s-taxpayers-are-funding-iran-s-military-expansion

Monday, May 01, 2017

If it's Broke, Give it a New Constitution?

Nicolas Maduro was likely blissfully ignorant of the potential quagmire he was going to inherit from Hugo Chavez before Chavez's death. However, now with the country in a tailspin, Maduro has continued to double down. Through his denial of his country's internal issues, the international community has tempered expectations for a recovery. Much of the world considers Venezuela to be a failed state. By many traditional standards, it is. With inflation spiraling out of control and the economy practically in default, Maduro cannot continue to deny Venezuela's failed infrastructure. His people are rioting in the streets and practical commodities are either in short supply or completely eradicated. Because Chavez did not save any money from the oil boom, the economy did not have a backstop when the price of oil bottomed out the country.





Our intelligence has confirmed that Tom Cruise will be in Colombia planning
to attack my government in another one of his "Mission Impossible"s
In complete dictatorial fashion, Maduro is calling for a revised constitution to consolidate power. He is seeking to restore peace and order in a nation that has not known either for months. One potential goal of the new constitution would be to delay elections that could oust Maduro from power. The last time the constitution was rewritten was 1999 in the heart of Chavez's presidency and the socialist reformation. The nation is deeply divided as the opposition leader has called for the military to rise against Maduro and prevent the "coup" of the Venezuelan government. Venezuela's general assembly has also been suspended on multiple occasions, furthering hostilities in the tumultuous nation. Maduro needs to accept the fact that his nation is in need of help. As the crisis sim explained, in order for Venezuela to recover, the government must first admit that it has a problem. The United States has largely abandoned the oil producing country since Chavez turned the public against the "imperial" Americans. Now, Venezuela could desperately use the aid that the United States has to offer, but whether a scorned President Trump would respond positively is another question entirely.


Trump and Kim: A Friendship Story

President Trump has stated that he would be honored to meet with North Korean premier Kim Jong-Un, but only under the right circumstances. Additionally, Trump extended a controversial invitation to Filipino leader Rodrigo Duterte. It does not seem as though trump has a solid understanding of the American image in these regions. Trump has not taken hard stances on many international issues during his presidency. His flip-flops range from Syrian intervention to getting along with China. His actions are indicative of a rather short-sighted policy stance. He is willing to meet with world leaders who have expressed or engaged in behaviors violating international human rights laws. Do his actions indicate a complicity with the behaviors of these leaders and their actions? One would hope not, but who is to know with the least orthodox presidency in decades.





The President's past praises of leaders like Vladimir Putin and even Kim Jong-Un call his judgment into severe question. When pressed on the issue of admiring Putin, Trump considered Putin to be a better leader than former President Obama. The fact that such statements came from the now-President of the United States is a frightening realization, considering the war crimes committed by the Putin regime. Trump's praise of Kim was that Kim must be smart if he could assume power so early, but he came into power because he was in a line of succession, not due to any of his own merits. Trump's unawareness is almost staggering. His reliance on aids and other staffers in order to maintain even an inkling of knowledge on pertinent issues certainly spells issues for the future of American foreign relations. Trump is a foreign policy neophyte and does not realize what is internationally acceptable. Hopefully, the international community does not take him too seriously when he says politically blasphemous rhetoric, such as a willingness to host the premier of a nation who has held American hostages for years.

Let's Weaponize Space!

Is space... the final frontier?

Perhaps. Putting weapon systems in space has long been a topic of discussion in the international community since the Cold War. Since then, discussions have been primarily based upon using space-based anti-missile systems as an added measure of defense. Today, discussions surrounding the deployment of space-based offensive weaponry are taking flight, shedding light on the idea that space may very well become the next domain of warfare.

The United States military relies pretty heavily on space-based communication technology for global operations, but it also maintains several surveillance and reconnaissance satellites; some of which, if prompted, are able to seek and destroy other satellites in space. Reports estimate the U.S. satellite arsenal, whether peaceful or militarized in nature, to be around 500 or more. This is about the same number of the rest of the world's satellite's combined. Clearly, we're making space great again.

Naturally, our adversaries rushing into space to lay claim are Russia and China. Space maneuvers have been relatively quiet as nations flex their space muscles by "testing" various technologies. China came to the forefront of space technologies when it successful launched its own anti-satellite weapon, destroying an older Chinese satellite. Russia, in both 2013 and 2015, quietly launched its own inspection satellites that are seemingly capable of carrying offensive equipment. However, both Chinese and Russian space-based technologies are below that of the United States. China simply lacks the acquisition and sensor technology. Russia, despite having a thorough arsenal of space technologies, is still modernizing its post-Soviet Union space program.

As of now, the most offensive-ish weapons based in space are other anti-satellite weapons. But that isn't to suggest we should disregard weaponize space, especially since our frenemies are eager to do so. Certainty actual space weapons (think massive laser beams pointed at Earth - no joke) are currently being research and developed by the U.S., China, and Russia. Although the Outer Space Treaty bars signers from places WMDs in Earth's orbit, it would not be surprising to see signers withdraw if deemed a national security interest. It is also likely to see space-based technologies and the race to deploy them become the next Cold War, as literature on the topic would suggest. 

Regardless, it is important to follow space-based technology developments closely.


Preamble United Nations Arms Trade Treaty: We Three Kings

Preamble United Nations Arms Trade Treaty:
We Three Kings

Dear States Parties to this Treaty,
The purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations seek to promote the establishment and maintenance of international peace and security. We, Syria, Iran, and North Korea are taking one last shot at getting our views across by writing over your Treaty’s preamble.
Therefore, you all, who feel you are so high and mighty, feel the need to underline the need to prevent and eradicate the illicit trade in conventional arms and to prevent their diversion to the illicit market, or for unauthorized end use and end users, including in the commission of terrorist acts.
We can underline too! You worldly nations seem to think we don’t recognize the legitimate political, security, economic and commercial interests of States in the international trade in conventional arms because we oppose the UN draft of the Arms Treaty Trade. If you claim to reaffirm the sovereign right of any State to regulate and control conventional arms exclusively within its territory, pursuant to its own legal or constitutional system, then how come we feel this clause doesn’t apply to us? Ok, we know we don’t have the best reputation for acknowledging that peace and security, development and human rights are pillars of the United Nations system and foundations for collective security and recognizing that development, peace and security and human rights are interlinked and mutually reinforcing, but we’re not being treated fairly!

Opposing the draft, we will attempt to black the consensus needed for passage of this Treaty, even though we’ve been negotiating it for years. Even though we had seven years to hash this thing out, we do not feel that enough time or attention have been given to our concerns.

Listening to other countries like India talk about how they felt the Treaty favor exporters and Russia talk about their reservations about the specificity of banning conventional weapons to non-state actors…

Understanding we belong to the Nonaligned Movement (NAM) along with 117 other members, and as most of the NAM members back the Treaty too, we think its unfair to have our group members take a stand to publically express disappointment in our decision.

Recalling India’s reservations, the Iranians feel that the right of importing states to acquire arms for their own security is subjective and we would be left to the hands and rulings of the exporting states.

The United Nations Disarmament Commission Guidelines fails to note that the wording of this Treaty will leave the sale of conventional weapons susceptible to discrimination, manipulation, and politicization.
Noting the contribution made by the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, as well as the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and the International Instrument to Enable States to Identify and Trace, in a Timely and Reliable Manner, Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons, we aren’t forgetting that there will still be a way around this Treaty, yes? Money talks. Take a look at the NRA in the USA, the President can’t ratify this Treaty because the NGO NRA can sit and listen to all our discussions and go back and tell their senators what they want. Guess what? They don’t want this treaty either.
Recognizing the security, social, economic and humanitarian consequences of the illicit and unregulated trade in conventional arms,
Bearing in mind that civilians, particularly women and children, account for the vast majority of those adversely affected by armed conflict and armed violence,
Recognizing also the challenges faced by victims of armed conflict and their need for adequate care, rehabilitation and social and economic inclusion…
Attempting to read that again clearly because didn’t that just talk about humanitarian consequences? What about the humanitarian consequences of the arms that are listed on your registry? And what is this about women and children and the affect armed conflict  and violence has on them? One word: Palestine.
Emphasizing that nothing in this Treaty prevents States from maintaining and adopting additional effective measures to further the object and purpose of this Treaty, so can you explain how this applies to occupied territories? I mean, they aren’t really states because the citizens don’t have any rights…
Mindful of the legitimate trade and lawful ownership, and use of certain conventional arms for recreational, cultural, historical, and sporting activities, where such trade, ownership and use are permitted or protected by law, but wait, hold on, because one of our biggest problems is the Treaty does not ban sales of weapons to groups that commit act so of aggression. We would say these would account for rebel groups…
Mindful also of the role regional organizations can play in assisting States Parties, upon request, in implementing this Treaty, now come on, that looks great on paper but Syria wants to know why you didn’t put in a clause specifically regarding an embargo on delivering weapons to non-state actors and terrorist armed groups?
Recognizing the voluntary and active role that civil society, including non-governmental organizations, and industry, can play in raising awareness of the object and purpose of this Treaty, and in supporting its implementation, now we understand this is the pot calling the kettle black but really are all these other nations ratifying this treaty known to give their citizens an active role in society? [Be quiet, N. Korea, we know that doesn’t help your case…or yours either Assad…]
Acknowledging that regulation of the international trade in conventional arms and preventing their diversion should not hamper international cooperation and legitimate trade in materiel, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes, peace: we understand what you want but this isn’t just a matter of peaceful cooperation! This is about the $$$! This is about economics and trade and whether or not this Treaty is equal for exporters and importers because that’s why we gave you trouble. We all know who is going to get the arms, sell the arms, and who is going to get blocked from getting arms…
Emphasizing the desirability of achieving universal adherence to this Treaty, is it really that surprising that we, three kings: Iran, Syria, and North Korea tried to block this treaty?

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/29/world/iran-and-north-korea-block-arms-trade-treaty.html


http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/iran-north-korea-syria-block-un-arms-trade-treaty-1.1391631