APPriCVEE FORE: 5
Office of African ind Latin American Analysis
Argentina: Expectations for Membership In the Missile Technology Control Regime
Over ihe past few monlhs, Buenos Aires has made Dramatic progress in meeting (he conditions that were set for its accession to the Missile Technology Control Regimebe Menem government has accounted for almost all of the missingissile components and has taken interim steps to dismantle theroduction infrastructure. Nevertheless, fearing criticism from domestic political opponents, Menem is wary of destroying production equipment that has potential commercial applications; he is hoping for assistance from the United States in redirecting it to peaceful uses. Buenos Aires expects Washington to push for Argentina's full membership at the MTCR plenary in late November and would consider Washington's failure lo doignificant blow to bilateral relations and to President Menem's personal credibility.
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Inissile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) countries granted Ai gen tun membership in the Regime to become effective when Buenos Aires met certain conditions related to its dUmaadement of the Condor II ballistic missile project According to tbe MTCR's terms, Argentina had io dismantle the Condor Ll producnon infrastructure and account for several missing componenuy^nchxling rrttssile guidance systems f
Moreover. MTCRerriinded dial Argentina destroy design documentation and computer software associated with Condor II production.
The Condor II Balance Sheet
Since March, Argentina has made considerable strides toward fulfilling the terms for bringing its MTCR membership into effect| Air Force officer s|
Accounted for the three remaining SAO EM guidanceBB flight computers, andlexible norzle joints.'
gears from- gallon propeUant muter.
Shipped tools and futures used in connection with casting Condorrocket motors I destruction.
Heading Off Political Opposition
Menem govern men! in recent months has
successfully headed off efforts by tbe opposition Radical Party to exploit the Condoi II issue for poLucal gain, most recently in legislative elections held in October. To strengthen his hand, Menem declassified details of the Condor II project,our of Condor II piixiuctioo facilities for jouraalisu. and obtained photographs of Argentine and Iraqi missile installations for possible public release He evidently calculated that exposing ihe Radical Parry's role during the Alfonsin adrrurdstration in transferringissile technology to Egypt and Iraq would dissuade his opponents from trying to foment broader opposition to his dismantlement of thendeed, shortlyisit lo Argentina In August by United Nation's officials to investigate the past Argentine-Iraqi missile connection, senior government officials' public comments about the connection put Radical Parry leaders on the defensive and prompted mem to downplay thessue. | |
Nevertheless, we believe Menem is reluctant to take the remaining steps demanded by MTCR members because he wants to avoid any action that might give his political opponents ammunition with which to turn public opinion against his decision to dismantle therogram. Menem is especially sensitive to criticism now because he needs support from the public and the Radical Party to revise the Constitution to allow him to run lor reelectione has calledlebesciie for late November or early December to vote on the issue. | |
For these reasons, the government has not destroyed some missile productioncould be used for commercialit
did putay machine forrnerly used forqomiy control u> use in
automobile engines. Senior Argentine official
hopeful that representatives from The US iraoe Development agency, wno
visited Argentina it August to assess the carMMCHfjciliccs. will help find alternative uses for other equipment, such as the ammonium perchlorate dryer/grinder. The Argentine officials probably calculate however, that if the assessment concludes that little of me Condorinfrastructure can be applied commejcialry. they can
use the report toecision to destroy the cquipmenL
To assuage international concerns about retention of Condor JJ installations even for peaceful means. Buenos Aires has offered to keep the Falda del Gumen rocket motor production plant open to inspection by MTCR members and to subject (he plant to "other measures the Regime considers necessary" to certify that no missiles are being viodw'-^
that inspections byembers are inherendy preferable to unilateral US inspections because they are less likely toationalistic backlash. |
Could the Condor II Project Be Revived by Menem's Successor?
I Attempts by Menem's opponents to portray tenrunatiori of therogramaste of high technology have thus far had little impact on public opinion; we see no indication that they have generated any sentiment for getting Argentina back: in the missile business. Indeed, polls show that most Argentines support Menem's pro-Western foreign policy and his efforts to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Nevertheless, if the government docs not take any further steps to destroy dienfrastructure or redirect it to other uses. Argentina will retain the capability
as the missile's rocket motors
Keiauveiy targe stocis or raw maieiiaiarious storage buildings
Other equipment; " ' jhas been mothbaDcd, however, and
probably would require some maintenance before use- In addition, die government would have to rehire Condor II engineers, who have left to work in other areas. In any event, Argentina could not produce completeissiles; even at the projects zenith Argentina produced only parts of the missile.
Weigh degree of confidence that the US Intelligence Community could detect resumedroduction activity, especially if MTCR members agree to an inspection regime for the Falda del Carmen facility. In addition, continued missile production probably would not escape public scrutiny, given the high profile-both dornestically andthe Condor II issue over the past few years.
Expecting US Support for Argentina's MTCR Membership
Meanwhile, Buenos Aires is likely to lobby other MTCR members actively in the corning weeks to improve its chancel of pcrtufciing the Uniled States to support Argentina's bid.
1 MTCF dfdsioci are made only by unanimoci voa.
Senior Argentine officials have made clear that, in light of their efforts to dismantle theroject, they expect Washington to push for Argentina's full membership in the MTCR at the Regime's plenary in late November. In the meantime, these officials want Washington to certify to other MTCR members that the Condor II issue is now closed. Buenos Aires probably realizes that, even though most MTCR members are prepared to approve Argentina's formal accession to the Regime, these countries will look to the United States for guidance on whether Argentina has met MTCR members' terms for ntenabership.1
Impact of Membership Denial
Menemreat deal of importance in securing Argentina's MTCR membership in November and wouldejection toignificant blow to his foreign policy as well as his personal credibility. He has built up the Argentine public's expectations that membership is forthcoming and that joining the Regime would not only be an appropriate response to its cancellation of therogram but would greatly enhance the country's standing abroad. If Argentina comes away from the plenary next month empty handed,olitical opponents probably will renew their charges that be has nothing to show for his termination of the Condor fj project. They may also point to NASA's proposal to launch sounding rockets from Brazil, which continues to develop missfle-related technology for its space launch vehicle, as evidence that Argentina gave up its missile development needlessly (Seeoreover, if turned down for membership after taking forceful actions to dismantle the program, Menem might have difficulty justifying to his political opponents, the military and the public that Argentina take further action lo meet MTCR requirements. |
In oar view, the Menem government would also view Washington's refusal toArgentine membashipignificant setback for bilateral relations.policymakers already are upset over their inability to persuadeore advanced avionics package inighter aircraft they planfrom the United States and have expressed concern that this reflectssuspicions about Argentina's reliabilityecurity
] Against this backdrop. US reluctance to endorse Argentina's membership in the MTCR may prompt Buenos Aires lo reevaluate the merits of aligning its foreign policy closely with Washington's. (
Argentina 'a Views on NASA Launches from Brazil
AlthoogbT " JArgeotini was briefed last year onto launch sounding rockets from Brazil and posed no objections to it.has become increasingly concerned that the United States may be holding it tostandard than Brasilia on missile proliferation issues. *
1 wpiiuiicuiiK4*ji uoip uiai, wmic TTBsnmgujn nis pressed Argentina to msminile fully dierogram, it has been lenient towardursuitpace launch vehicle capability.
We judge that Argentina's misgivings about US launches have grown and probably will intensify as the launch date approaches. Senior Argentine officials probably are not concerned that the United States ruled out Argentina as an option to host the sounding rocket campaign; they almost certainly realize that Argentina's launch sites would not meet NASA's requirement to launch near the Dip Equator. Rather, the Menem government probably is worried that political opponents and senior military officers will view NASA's launches as evidence that Argentina gave up its missile development needlessly. [
Although such views almost certainly would not persuade Menem to reverse his decision to dismantle the Condor Ll project, they risk fanning domestic controversy surrounding his handling of the Condor II issue.Original document.