Murphy's Law: Russia Deploys a Truly Horrible Weapon


May 13, 2007: South Korea wants to buy four Global Hawk UAVs, for about $50 million each. The United States wants to sell South Korea the UAVs. But Russia, and their lawyers, insist that the sale cannot be made. The Russians claim that, according to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Global Hawk can, in theory, be used as a delivery system for weapons of mass destruction. That makes Global Hawk a "Category I system", under the MTCR, and thus illegal for the United States to sell to a foreign country. Here's where it gets tricky. The MTCR was established twenty years ago as an informal (no one signed anything) agreement among industrialized nations, to prevent the transfer of technology that would enable other nations to deliver weapons of mass destruction.

In theory, Russia is correct. South Korea would be in a better position to deliver weapons of mass destruction if it had the Global Hawks. The real reason the Russians don't want the South Koreans to have Global Hawk is because they don't want such a splendid reconnaissance vehicle operating in their neighborhood. The Russians know that the North Korean communist dictatorship is going to collapse soon, creating a united Korea with an economy much larger than Russias, and with about half the population of Russia. It's an old Russian custom to be paranoid about neighbors, and this is another manifestation of that. But Russia has gotten with the times, and is deploying lawyers and publicists to keep the Global Hawks away from their borders, rather than hauling out the traditional tanks and warplanes.




Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close