STATUS OF THE CONDOR II BALLISTIC MISSILE PROGRAM

Created: 11/1/1991

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status of tbs Condor ZZ Ballistic Missile Prograa

Summary

Argentina's President Henea appears committed to terminating the Condor II short-range ballistic missile program, at least in part to fulfill one of Washington's requirements tor improving bilateral relations. Menem is avaro of residual opposition to this reversal among some nationalists and high-ranking Air Force officers and is seeking us assistance to redirect Condor II resources to peaceful uses. Buenos Aires probably judges that development of sounding rookets and satellite launch vehicles would be legitimate uses of Condor II resources. Washington, however, has indicated that such projects would cast doubt on Argentina's commitment to forgo development of ballistic missiles.

Background

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In the, Argentina, in cooperation with

a consortium ofpagan

a short-range ballistic! alas lie Known as Condor II. The project was intended to provide the Argentine Air Forceignificant strike capability, encourage technological advances in weapons and space development, enhance Argentina's international prestige, and generate export revenue.

Development of Condor II advanced steadily4s the Argentinaa,I

constructed critical missile

production facilities and completed many of the missile's major subcomponents.

During this period, some Condor II related equipment, such as tools for casting and testing rocket motors, may have been exported from Argentina and then passed on to Iraq.

Since then, however, progress on the Condor II has been stymied by technical difficulties, funding shortfalls, and international scrutiny, as the

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DECL: OADR DERV: MULTIPLE

United States and its partners in the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) worked to cut off the flow of vital missile technology

The Menam Administration's Policy on Condor II

President Henea hasrucial role in bringing the Condor II programirtual standstill. Aware that abandoning the project would be critical to improving relations with Washington, he began moving deliberately to terminate the program early in his administration.

Inenem signed adecree

canceling contracts with the consortium

"firms that was managing development or the missile for the Argentines. At the same time, he directed then Defense Minister Hunberto Romero to shut down the project,

Inuenos Airesulti-agency team of US experts that inspected various facilities associated with the Condor II.

In Kay, Menemecree transferringall remaining Condor II facilities anda newly created, civilian run NationalSpace Activities

Menem also announced his government's desire to engage in discussions aimed at securing for Argentina full membership in tha MTCR.

Wo believe Monom is committed to closing down the program and getting Argentina out of the missile businoss. He knows that some nationalists and high-ranking Air Force officers are strongly opposed to following that course, and therefore believes ha nuat move carefully to avoid sparking open hostility that sight strain civil-military relations.

Th* Condor program has been managed from th* startmall group of senior Air Force personnel who also have financial stakes in its succeaa. Soma of those individuals-!-

In their extorts to keep the project allvai aa one tactic, they ar* seeking foreign financing for

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continued work on the Missile

Some Air Force officials reportedly have also recently attempted to arrange tha transfer of Condor XI technology to countries such as Libya and Egypt.

Technical Assistance

Kenan and his team have sought Washington's assistance in redirecting Condor XX resources to peaceful uses, such aa space' related projects. They view this as an important means for overcoming opposition to canceling the program.

Menem believes he must compensate the military for the years of aerospace research that went into the development of the Condor II,

oreover, he probably also has lingering doubts

about the government's ability to monitor Aircompliance with termination of Ha may calculate that engaging themprojects could preclude Air Forcebecoming involvedogue program.

The government recognizes that joint aerospace cooperation with the United States will hinge on convincing Washington that rennants of the Condor XX project, such aa already-completed missile components, will not be uaod for military purposes.

Ministor Gonzalez ordered the Air Forcetoomplete inventory of all Condorand facilities.

Ithls will enable CONAE to determine which facilities and components can bo used for peaceful purposes and which are applicable solely to ballistic missile development and, therefore, should be destroyed.

government probably considers the development of Bounding rockets and satellite launch vehiclesegitimate use of Condor II resources. Tho President of CONAE stated publicly in late August that the Commission would study the possibility of working with Brazil and Mexico toatellite launch vehicle exclusively for peaceful purposes.

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Thehas indicated to Buenos

Aires that developmentystem wouldroliferation risk and cast doubt on Argentina's stated intention to forgo development of ballistic missiles.

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Original document.

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