Destroying Excess Small Arms: U.S. Policy and Programs   [open pdf - 120KB]

"While robust export controls and enforcement are critical elements in the effort to curb illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons (SA/LW), the simplest and most reliable way to prevent proliferation of illicit arms is through proper stockpile management and expeditious destruction of excess," says C. Edward Peartree, Policy Officer, Office of Policy, Plans & Analysis, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, U.S. Department of State. "Taking up this global problem, the State Department, working with the Department of Defense, has dedicated funding and expertise to assisting countries in improving stockpile management practices and destroying excess SA/LW." The principal source of destabilizing accumulations of small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) in many regions of the world is not new production but re-circulated stocks of surplus military weapons. Cold War stocks the countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, often poorly secured and susceptible to theft or illegal transfer, have been a source of arms for regional criminal organizations and violent terrorist groups. Ex-Warsaw Pact militaries eager to upgrade to NATO standards have dumped large numbers of infantry rifles, machine guns, and light weapons such as rocket propelled grenade launchers (RPGs) onto the global market. Sales of surplus arms, often to undesirable end-users such as insurgent groups or warring governments under international embargo, have proven a ready source of revenue for cash-poor developing countries. The United States continues to expand its small arms destruction program. Projects are currently under discussion in the Balkans, Latin America, Africa, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia. In addition to an ongoing partnership with Norway and Germany in Albania, the United States seeks joint ventures with other interested donor countries and organizations. U.S. support for destruction of surplus and illicit small arms and light weapons are intended to promote regional security, peace, and reconciliation in regions of conflict. The unchecked proliferation of these arms threatens civilians, peacekeepers, and law enforcement officials, and complicates the work of rebuilding war torn societies and regions. Given that destruction is relatively inexpensive (costing generally between $1-5 per weapon destroyed) and can generally be accomplished using locally available infrastructure (a variety of cheap methods are viable) and personnel, the program offers large dividends in threat reduction for a modest initial investment.

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Small Arms and Light Weapons: U.S. Policy and Views: U.S. Foreign Policy Agenda: An Electronic Journal of the U.S.Department of State, v.6, no.2, p. 15-17
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