F.A.S. Public Interest Report
Journal of the Federation of American Scientists (F.A.S.)
|Volume 52, Number 3||May/June 1999|
Serb Forces Use Chemical Agent BZ
Problems with the War
Rent, Rambouillet and the State of Play
Conduct of the Air War
Comments Critical of the Air War
Chemical Weapons in Serbia
Catastrophe Web Site
Arming KLA Opposed
Toxic Chemicals Over Belgrade
FAS PIR Index
This FAS Public Interest Report is an effort to update members on FAS activities thus far on the fast-moving war in Kosovo. We discuss a fresh approach to resolving the problem: "renting" Kosovo something which the FAS President tried to work out in 1992 between Serbs and Albanians in two visits with Ibrahim Rugova and a distinguished Serb historian and prominent political figure, Mihailo Markovic. While some would believe and we agreed for a time that this approach was out-dated by the violence, the importance of finding a conceptual basis on which to bring China and Russia into the negotiations, and hence the U.N. Security Council, has induced us to ask the international community to give this a fresh look.
We reprint excerpts from an FAS press release calling on humanitarian and philanthropic sources to fund information gathering among the refugees about the particulars of their mistreatment with a view to putting this information on a website. The various alleged positive implications of this procedure are described in the press release. But the entire matter requires study. We also have reproduced those parts of a press release on arming the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which we oppose.
We describe FAS work by Kevin Kavanaugh in detailing with great precision, the existence and location of chemical weapons in Serbia something of great consequence to an alliance that is planning ground attacks against Serbia. And we have some comments from him on the unfortunate chemical disaster caused by NATO bombings. In a related note, FAS condemns Serb forces' use of the chemical agent, BZ, against the KLA.
Meanwhile, staffer John Pike has been manning a most useful website containing more information on the war than, perhaps, any other single source. And his analysis of the war's progress has been widely reported. His views on the air war are followed by quotations from news reports taking a different view.
This situation is not one on which FAS members, or even FAS officials, can agree on every nuance and, indeed, may disagree on major premises of the war and its tactics. But we are doing what we can to try to balance the conventional wisdom, generate new and useful thinking, and find some least cost solution. Suggestions from members are always welcome. JJS
On April 14th the Federation confirmed that the Yugoslav Army (VJ) is using the Chemical Agent BZ against KLA's (Kosovo Liberation Army) 151st and 152d Brigades forces along the Albanian border. The information was confirmed by the humanitarian organizations, Doctors Without Borders and the ICRC, working along the Albanian frontier. This is the first occurrence of the use of chemical agents during the current crisis in Kosovo.
The incapacitating chemical agent BZ is intended to produce physiological or mental effects that prevent exposed military personnel from performing their duties for significant periods of time. The current VJ doctrine on the use of Chemical Weapons advocates the use of this agent against enemy forces. In the VJ doctrine, it is used against personnel to incapacitate them, then to capture or kill those affected.
Current estimates of the amount of this agent in the VJ inventory are in the 300 ton range. BZ is thought to have been loaded into artillery shells, 122mm, 128mm, and 262mm rockets. In addition, the VJ has produced hand grenades, rifle-propelled grenades and mortar shells, filled with BZ.
This first use of a chemical weapon could set Serbia on the slippery slope of chemical weapon escalation in amount and lethality as the crisis worsens. The use of BZ is illegal under the CWC; Yugoslavia is not a signatory of the Convention. FAS is continuing its investigation into the BZ attack.
The basic strategic mistake in the war has been the assumption that Mr. Milosevic would agree to give up Kosovo when threatened with bombing or bombed. The Joint Chiefs, who knew that bombing alone would not win a war, appear to have been bought off, bureaucratically speaking, by being asked whether they agreed that the bombing would "degrade" Serb capabilities; this is how war within the bureaucracy is resolved.)
A second basic mistake was the general failure of any part of the Government to predict effectively that the Serbs would be so savage in using the bombing as an opportunity to carry out a policy of ethnic cleansing of two-thirds of the ethnic Albanian population, with horrific atrocities. (In fact, however, even the ethnic Albanians in the KLA, used to Serb brutality, did not anticipate this.)
A related, on-going error, is to assume that this war is now about "Milosevic and his henchmen" when, in fact, Serbia is, predictably, unified about keeping Kosovoat least when bombed about itand indifferent or uninformed about the atrocities that are holding the Alliance together. As with regard to the Vietnamese war, there are the usual academic assumptions that there must be a "level of pain" at which leaders give in when, in fact, punching people and countries around may just make them madder.
The truth behind the "level of pain" theory, insofar as bombing Serbia is concerned, is that NATO could not get a consensus behind anything except bombing and, accordingly, it bombed. The page of quotations about the bombing on page 9 raises real questions about it. Put another way, some people have said: "Milosevic's head may be stronger than our fist" as Vietnamese war observers used to say: "Their ability to die exceeds our willingness to kill." Others have pointed out that the "pain" theory requires one to believe that Milosevic feels "pain" when the economy of Yugoslavia collapses as a responsible leader would. At its 50th anniversary meeting, NATO actually agreed to step up the bombing with a view to turning the Serb people against Milosevic! But the opposite is as likely to happen as they rally around and find further reason to oppose NATO.
And a third important problem has been to overlook how rapidly the Serbs can repair hit facilities and revamp their tactics to work around bottlenecks. (See Washington Times, April 24; "Serbs Take Little Time in Repairing Hit Facilities.")
As "truth is the first casualty of war," NATO has pretty well buried the fact that Milosevic was faced with armed insurrection and that the Serbs share the usual views on sovereignty, i.e., that there ought not be intervention in the internal affairs of a state. FAS officials have argued that Yugoslavia was, in fact, in a state of dissolution--having lost four of its six Republicsand, accordingly, that provinces of Serbia (such as Kosovo and Vojvadina) ought be allowed self-determination also. But, obviously, this is not the Serbian point of view.
As a consequence of this, NATO intervention may be encouraging other groups within other states to rise up, with arms, in the hopes that humanitarian intervention will apply to them. And since it is now obvious that the cost in treasure and lives can be great in such cases, we are running the risk of moving quickly into a world in which everyone's ethnic conflict is a military responsibilitynot just a moral and, perhaps, economic responsibility, of everyone else. NATO is trying to control this perverse effect by moving toward "international protectorate" type solutions after which, perhaps, there would be plebiscites to determine what to do next. A flaw in this approach is now becoming clear: the Serbs are trying to reduce the ethnic Albanian population resident in Kosovo to the point where a certain Albanian-Serb parity might exist. The prospect of such votes has a perverse effect of encouraging them to do so. Of course, the West seeks the full return of the refugees, which would offset the expulsionsif it could be achieved.
The underlying issue is whether the province is going to be programmed to remain part of Serbia for a short time, for a long time, or forever. The Rambouillet approach is, it seems, about Kosovo staying part of Serbia for a short time. The "rent" approach is about a long-run, but not permanent, period after which negotiations would go forward as to its continuance. The Serb approach, of course, is to have it be part of Serbia forever. There is also the possibility of having an international protectorate for a long time.
Another underlying question concerns the armed Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA)'s capacity to upset agreements if it does not get its way--either in the short, medium or long-runor if it, and individual ethnic Albanians, cannot resist settling the enormous scores they have with the Serbs.
The Albanians have, for centuries, had highly ritualized blood feuds among themselves, like the Hatfields and the McCoys sometimes leading to revenge being taken 50 years after some precipitating event. In the 1980s the Kosovars gave up their blood feuds, in highly public emotional ceremonies, in order to improve their image so as to maintain foreign support for their struggle for independence. But before that time, males deemed not to have fulfilled their responsibilities to take revenge against other Albanians were offered tea "under the leg" to symbolize contempt for their unmanly action and to get them moving. After all this killing, there is going to be a tremendous Albanian appetite for settling scores and interviews with refugees have shown it.
Still another problem is that of Serbs settling scores with terrorism. Attacking Milosevic's personal residence went a small distance toward the foolishness of the Kennedy Administration's struggle to assassinate Castro. And Castro's protest against this, in a Brazilian Embassy interview, is thought by some to have been read by Oswald in a local newspaper and to have catalyzed Oswald's decision to assassinate President Kennedy.
But more generally, we live now in a world of weapons of mass destructioneasily created and transported. Is it wise, in such a world, to suppress a people? One gung-ho human rights advocate at a recent meeting called for "destroying Serb nationalism"! This is a big order. There are a number of small countries that cannot be easily quashed. North Korea, Iraq, Vietnam, Israel and Serbia are certainly examples. All will think twice about suppressing those who have weapons of mass destruction. As a result, suppressing states only fans the appetite of other states for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons--something we are all against. This point, recently made by Alexei Arbatov in Russia's Duma, is worth pondering.
And the enmities that will result are shown, in particular, in the extent to which the bombing has set Serbia backone or two decades according to one estimate. (See Deconstructing Yugoslavia; Michael Dobbs, Belgrade, April 24, Washington Post)
Of particular immediate danger is the problem of intercepting Russian oil tankers en route to Montenegroreminescent of the Cuban missile crisis and with great potential for further inflaming Russians attitudes or worse!
NATO, today, has a surprisingly strong consensus for continuing the war. This is based largely on the terrible Serb atrocities, and also on Milosevic's well-deserved bad reputation. In addition, however, it is based on NATO expansion which brought in new states eager to be of service and lined up new NATO hopefuls that want to cooperate. Somehow the larger number of states for which consensus is required have not undermined the consensus. Perhaps none are prepared to say "no".
Another problem lies in a warning that NATO gave to Belgrade not to use force against Montenegro this is another commitment. And still another lies in how the cruel Serbs will use the 600,000 ethnic Albanians left in Kosovo if there is an armed invasion. The question of who is sincerely trying to minimize the loss of Albanian life is an important one that is not getting enough consideration.
The war began after the Serbs refused to sign the Rambouillet Accords--which the ethnic Albanians were induced to sign. These accords represented a "three-year interim agreement" after which an international meeting would be convened "to determine a mechanism for a final settlement for Kosovo" in which the will of the people would be "an important factor". Other factors were to be the opinions of relevant authorities, each party's efforts regarding the implementation of the accords, and the Helsinki Final Act. In the meantime, there would be an international military presence deployed by NATO.
The war has changed the correlation of forces. A new approach is required. After a Humanitarian Truce, as noted in the adjoining box, or some such halt in fighting, we need to move beyond a "three-year" interim approach to a long-term solution.
We can not set things straight by ourselves or with NATO only. We need to find a conceptual basis on which China and Russia can support our efforts so as to move this issue beyond NATO to resolutions of the UN Security Council. One such metaphor might well be the idea of renting territory over which Serbia is not prepared to yield sovereignty. In 1992, in two discussions with President Ibrahim Rugova of his totally unrecognized state, the Republic of Kosovo, I worked out, and had translated and reviewed by him, a long-term Serb-Albanian "lease" that would be internationally guaranteed (by the U.S., Russia, and one state chosen by the U.S. and Russia) and would cover all or a part of Kosovo with the possible exception of monasteries and specific sites of special interest to Serbs. It would provide the ethnic Albanians with full rights of peaceful occupancy and autonomy in Kosovo, much as America rents Guantanamo from Cuba and Israel rents part of Jordan with renewable 25-year leases and it would, of course, guarantee the rights of Serbs to live in Kosovo. At that time, Dr. Rugova objected only to a draft provision that seemed to suggest an effort to "buy out" Serbs; he insisted that the Serbs were welcome to stay and that their rights would be protected.
FAS is urging a Humanitarian Truce of 60 days or more in which bombing, fighting, and ethnic cleansing would be stopped, troops would stand down, Kosovars would be permitted free movement across borders and aid workers would be permitted to enter. The peaceful period would facilitate negotiations on a long-term solution and, above all, try to avert otherwise impending starvation among hundreds of thousands of people.
The Executive Committee
While intervention in the internal affairs of sovereign states cannot secure support from China (with its internal problems with Taiwan and Tibet) or Russia (with its Chechnya and other problems), paying for peaceful occupancy has a long and honorable history, including the tribute paid by Vietnam to China in olden days for autonomy.
Such a proposal would appeal to Serbs because its form implies Serb ownership, while Albanians would enjoy the resultant autonomy, the international guarantees and the fact that the lease was of finite duration. By the lease's end, Mr. Milosevic would be gone, Serbia democratized and new civilized arrangements, or a renewal of the lease, could be negotiated between the Serbs and ethnic Albanians of tomorrow.
With a lease of 25, 50 or 100 years, Western efforts to rebuild Kosovo could go forward in some certainty that the region would not again be racked by civil conflict. And the long-term agreement would permit the West to help rebuild Kosovo in the assurance that the ethnic Albanians would enjoy the fruits of the investment. The longer term approach would permit all parties to determine, in advance, what the final agreement would be which has some advantages over the Rambouillet Accords. And as a result of the bombing, Serbia will need aid and investment, so there will be ample leverage to negotiate the return of refugees and their protection.
Commentators have been quick to declare the Allied Force air campaign a failure. Isolationists and pacifists had ready responses to the war, while those with more nuanced views towards the use of force soon repaired into several camps almost all critical of the conduct of the war. Some held that the air campaign could not under any plausible conditions create the "permissive environment" that was the stated precondition for the introduction of an international security force into Kosovo, while others suggested that only a decisive escalation of the ferocity of the air campaign could achieve this end state. Other critics contended that ground troops would inevitably have to fight their way into Kosovo, and the sooner the better.
Considered in strictly military terms, the air campaign to reduce the Serbian military presence in Kosovo is simultaneously more and less challenging than the Desert Storm air campaign. But in principle the outcome of the two campaigns should be the same by the time Coalition forces started the ground campaign, they confronted a defeated and retreating adversary that offered little more than piecemeal resistance, and over time, the Serbian presence in Kosovo will be similarly reduced.
While air power alone cannot facilitate the return of refugees or the reconstruction of Kosovo, it is reasonable to expect that it can create either the political or military conditions needed for the introduction of an international military presence to facilitate these goals.
Kosovo presents greater challenges due to the close inter-mingling of Serbian military and paramilitary forces with the civilian population, necessitating a far greater reliance on precision guided munitions, and greater care in their use. Almost all these precision-guided munitions are optically guided, and do not work in cloudy weather. The largely cloud-free skies over Kuwait were in marked contrast to the cloud-covered skies over Kosovo, which more often than not during the first month of the air campaign forced the cancellation of strike sorties, or forced pilots to return without dropping their bombs. The open desert of Kuwait facilitated aerial targeting, while Serbian forces have made good use of terrain, vegetation, and ruined buildings to hide their assets from aerial assault.
These constraints notwithstanding, the NATO air campaign was conducted with an overall correlation of forces that compared favorably with Desert Storm. During the war with Iraq, the United Stated deployed some 1300 combat aircraft to attack a force of several hundred thousand Iraqi troops with thousands of tanks, personnel carriers and artillery pieces. Nearly 300 US combat aircraft were deployed by late April against a much smaller Serbian force, numbering some 40,000 troops in and around Kosovo, with fewer than 400 tanks and hundreds of other vehicles.
The direct attrition of Serbian forces in Kosovo proper during the first weeks of the air campaign was relatively modest, as the main weight of air attacks were directed against air defenses and support infrastructure throughout Yugoslavia. And it is true that if the conduct of the war is judged by the condition of the Kosovar population at the end of March 1999, the air campaign may well be judged by some a failure almost from the outset, beyond retrieval by any subsequent military or political gains.
Others contend that after a month of operations it is apparent that NATO cannot halt Serbian ethnic cleansing from the air, citing the difficulty of attacking the dispersed and mobile units operating in Kosovo. Critics further contend that Serb forces in Kosovo have sufficient supplies to continue operations despite air interdiction efforts, and retain the potential to expel the remaining Kosovar population, should they so choose.
Initially, Serbian ethnic cleansing tactics typically included surrounding a village with tanks, bombarding it with artillery, and sending in troops to expel the population. The massing of forces required by such tactics create attractive targets for aerial attack, and the lavish expenditure of fuel and ammunition. Initially, Serbian forces sought to evade aerial attack by moving vehicles every few hours, more rapidly than they could be located and attacked by NATO air forces. It now appears that the bulk of Serbian forces have abandoned these tactics, which consume large quantities of fuel that is in increasingly short supply.
The NATO air campaign has adopted multiple approaches to immobilizing Serbian forces in Kosovo, both to reduce the pace of ethnic cleansing and facilitate the destruction of "hunkered down" vehicles and units. Attacks have sought to disrupt the Serbian military food chain, destroying fuel and ammunition production facilities, cutting off supply routes, directly attacking field resupply points, and destroying the command and communications facilities needed to coordinate these increasingly disorganized support elements.
While these attacks cannot produce immediately decisive results, over time they will unavoidably degrade the tactical flexibility and mobility of Serbian fielded forces, rendering them more vulnerable to attack from the air, and more vulnerable to KLA raids on the ground. Although Serbian resupply may continue on foot across the Kosovo border, and lightly equipped paramilitary units may continue ethnic cleansing, the large-scale military operations that have been the center of Serbian operations over the past year cannot be sustained under such conditions. As the focus of air operations increasingly moves toward Serbian fielded forces such as tanks and artillery-which are currently being destroyed at a rate of several a daysimple arithmetic suggests that within a few weeks their condition will increasingly resemble that of Iraqi forces on the eve of the initiation of ground operations.
Of course, there can be no assurance that any reduction of the Serbian military presence in Kosovo can produce a "permissive environment" by force of arms, since by NATO's present definition this requires some sort of formal political agreement by Serbia to the introduction of an international military force into Kosovo. Even in the face of the utter and complete physical annihilation of the Serbian military presence in Kosovo, this formal political agreement might not be forthcoming from the Belgrade government. Indeed, Iraq still claims victory in the "Mother of All Battles."
Critics of the as-yet indecisive progress of the air campaign typically proceed to suggest that immediately decisive results can only be achieved through the liberation of Kosovo by ground troops. Proponents of the ground troop option are frequently hazy as to important details as to which units would be used, how and where they would be used, and how quickly such an invasion force could be assembled.
The typical concept of operations described by ground force proponents does not inspire great confidence. Greece has abstained from the air campaign, and it is inconceivable that they would make their port facilities available for a land invasion. Macedonia has also ruled out the use of its territory as a staging area for an invasion force. While the Albanian government has endorsed a ground invasion, their existing logistical infrastructure is better suited to cigarette smuggling than to staging a large-scale ground invasion. Seaport and airport facilities are limited, and at no small distance from the Kosovo border. Road and rail connections are equally modest. The frustratingly slow deployment of Apache helicopters was impeded by the necessity of building logistical infrastructure from scratch. The week required to construct the infrastructure needed for the some 5,000 troops of the Apache task force suggests that many weeks, if not months, would be needed to build up the support base for a 100,000-strong invasion force.
The deployment of Coalition ground forces to Saudi Arabia in 1990 faced few such constraints, nor were these forces constrained by terrain when they enveloped the Iraqi army in 1991. In contrast, the impediments to deploying a large invasion force to Albania are exceeded only by the impediments to driving this force across the border into Kosovo. The border between Albania and Kosovo runs atop a mountainous ridge-line punctuated by only three roads running through inter-mountain valleys. While Serbian forces have been frustrated in efforts to prevent KLA forces from walking back and forth across the border mountain range, halting a NATO ground invasion along three refugee-clogged roads would present less of a challenge. With NATO vehicles advancing single file through these passes, the destruction of a single American tank could halt the entire advance until the road was cleared.
Optimistically, such a force could be marshaled within perhaps a month, with ground operations commencing sometime in June. The burden of the critics of the air campaign lies not with their critique of its indecisive progress by late April, but rather their estimation of its probable progress as of early June. By that time, the situation will surely have developed in directions unfavorable to Serbian fielded forces. NATO's air forces will have tripled relative to the order of battle at the outset of operations. Improving weather will facilitate attacks on fielded forces, which will increasingly be the focus of air operations. The interdiction of supplies will progressively immobilize Serbian units, which will remain vulnerable to KLA raids.
The application of airpower against Serbian fielded forces remains constrained by the close proximity of Kosovar civilians. It remains equally constrained by the understandable decision to minimize the risk to NATO aircrews. While one may readily question whether it is plausible to hope to fight wars in which no friendly troops are killed, it is more difficult to question a reluctance to test public willingness to sacrifice blood as well as treasure in wars that do not immediately affect national survival.
Dissatisfaction with the first month of the Allied Force air campaign begs the question of available alternatives. The isolationist critique has many attractions but few adherents, and while it offers a coherent path towards a fundamental revision of American security strategy, it does little to inform decision-makers working within the existing NATO planning environment. The pacifist critique is perhaps more attractive, but the policy prescriptions of further diplomatic efforts find few adherents in policy circles familiar with the recent course of Balkan diplomacy.
Proponents of a ground invasion of Kosovo gloss over the practical difficulties of their preferred course of action, and largely ignore the political and other dangers of antagonizing Russia and fracturing the NATO alliance. And frustrated air power proponents seemingly ignore the differences between real wars constrained by real political considerations, and peacetime exercises or firepower demonstrations in which munitions may be freely expended without such real-world constraints.
Close students of the Balkans may be able to point to the moment at which American policy became fundamentally misguided, and the point some years ago at which the present war became virtually inevitable. But over the past year, with the inexorable escalation of the armed struggle between the KLA and Serbian forces, other possibilities for resolving the crisis in Kosovo have been progressively exhausted. Absent viable military alternatives, continued prosecution of the air campaign towards its inevitable conclusion, along with continued diplomatic efforts, are the only remaining options.
"With NATO leaders still wedded to a strategy of pounding Yugoslavia only from the air, a top alliance commander warned yesterday that the relentless bombing could end up setting the country's economy back several decades and still not produce the desired results...[German General Klaus Naumann, outgoing head of NATO's military committee said the] "flaw in our thinking...may be that we think he may have at last a little bit of responsibility for his country and may act accordingly..." (The Washington Post, Bradley Graham, p.1)
"Despite a rapid escalation in attacks against Yugoslavia made possible by NATO commanders' broader authority to select targets and more planes to attack them, the allied air war remains frustrated in its efforts to isolate and break the Yugoslav military, according to NATO and US. Military accounts, and interviews with U.S. and European officials and analysts.
"After more than 6,000 allied sorties during the first four weeks of Operation Allied Force, NATO has not made a perceptible dent in the Yugoslav military offensive in Kosovo..." (The Washington Post, April 18, Dana Priest and William Drozdiak, p. 1).
"The Apache helicopters that began arriving in Albania with much fanfare on Wednesday are not expected to begin flying combat strikes into Kosovo for many more days or weeks, officials said, in large part because the Serbs have retained enough of their air defenses to keep allied pilots guessing about the threat they face.
"President Clinton said the air campaign had three objectives: to underscore NATO unity in opposing aggression; to deter Mr. Milosevic from expelling ethnic Albanians, and, if necessary, to hurt Belgrade's ability to wage war by 'seriously diminishing' its military abilities.
"The only objective met so far is a firm display of unity. Yugoslavia's ability to endure the strikes has left NATO no option but to step up the size and scope of its campaign far more than the alliance envisioned when the attacks began in March". (Steven Lee Myers and Eric Schmitt, The New York Times, April 24, p. 1)
"Even as Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen asserted again today that NATO was succeeding in cutting of the supply of fuel for Yugoslav troops, a growing number of American and European military experts and planners say that goal will not be reached for many months, if at all. ...The immediate problem centers on how to block oil shipments arriving at the port of Bar in Montenegro..[But] The problem is larger than the port of Bar. Aware of the debate and the vulnerability of Bar, Mr. Milosevic is already trying to bring oil in through other coastal ports, the American analyst said, and on over land routes through neighboring countries like Bulgaria." (The New York Times, Elizabeth Becker, April 21, p A13.)
"The pundits have spoken: Air power is failing, NATO's strategy isn't working, ground troops must be brought in to roll back Serb forces in Kosovo. While there's an irritating consistency to this armchair analysis, what's surprising is that a number of top-ranking Air Force officers agree.
"In my recent interviews with some two dozen active-duty and retired Air Force generals and senior officers, several themes emerge about the NATO operation in Yugoslavia: disappointment that air power is being so poorly employed, frustration over the false promise of a perfect war and zero casualties and puzzlement that the Air force leadership is so cowed and silent." (The Washington Post, Outlook Section, William Arkin, B1, April 25.)
On April 6, FAS confirmed that there are four known Chemical Warfare facilities operating in the former Yugoslavia, specifically in Serbia. On April 8th, FAS released the information to the greater public on US Newswire. The Drudge Report picked it up eight minutes later, after that word spread to national and international news agencies. The direct results of the FAS news release caused journalists, after conferring with FAS, to question President Clinton about the issue of Chemical Weapons in Serbia on April 15th in San Francisco. Specifically the question they asked the President was "How does the availability of weapons of mass destruction among the Serbs impact American and NATO operations in the Kosovo conflict. And what is your administration's policy of response or retribution in the however unlikely event of enemy use of such weapons of mass destruction against insurgents or refugees, or even the NATO Alliance?" The President said, "My response would be swift and overwhelming. And I think they are quite well aware of the dangers of overly escalating this." The FAS goal is to insure that any negotiated settlement with Serbia must include full compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention to ensure these weapons are not used.
The four known facilities currently involved in the research, production, and storage of chemical warfare agents in the Serbia are: Prva Iskra in Baric, Serbia; Miloje Blagojevic in Lucani, near Casak, Serbia; Milojie Zakic and Merima in Krusevic, Serbia; and the Military Technical Institute in Potoci near Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Yugoslav Army (VJ) has produced sarin and made it into a weapon (approximately 50 tons) at the Lucani Facility, and produced smaller quantities of tabun, soman, and VX nerve agents (approximately 50 tons combined) at the facility in Krusevic. The VJ forces thought to have large quantities (approximately 400 tons) of sulfur mustard and produced smaller amounts of nitrogen mustard and lewsite (approximately 30 tons). The VJ is thought to have stored at the Krusevic facility approximately 15 tons of phosgene. The VJ also, have produced and stored BZ at the Merima facility in Krusevac (app 300 tons). The VJ currently have for use with chemical agents the 122mm, 152mm, and 155mm artillery shells; air-delivered bombs (of an unknown type);122mm, 128mm rockets, and 262mm rockets; and chemical warfare mines.
For further updates on Chemical Weapons and on all aspects of the Kosovo Crisis please refer to the FAS website. The site is updated on a daily basis.
The aspect of the report that made it truly unique and invaluable is the locations of the facilities and what precisely was being produced and stored by tonnage at each. This more exact accounting induced the question to the President. The multiple sources used to confirm each piece of the puzzle ranged from Croatians, who were former scientific advisors and military advisers to the CW program in Yugoslavia, to the actual technicians who worked at the factories, to NATO and DOD Intelligence Officials. We are still pursuing the investigation.
In a press release of April 8, FAS called on the international humanitarian and philanthropic community to organize the debriefing of the ethnic Albanian community of Kosovo regarding deportation, family separation, murder, rape, theft and other related crimes and to establish a central repository on the World Wide Web on which this voluminous information would be archived, cross-referenced and validated. The Web provides a method to accumulate, and make readily available, amounts of information which could not, heretofore, be managed and which, in the case of the Nazi Holocaust and the Cambodian Genocide were collected too late. It is entirely possible that bilingual refugees could be trained to start this work.
Such an archive would lay a basis for future prosecution of war-crimes and could be used, also, to help reunite separated families by providing locations of persons listed. In addition, it could be a method of persuading world opinion of what is happening in Kosovo by interlinking stories and showing patterns of truth. (Information determined to be too private, or too open to retribution, could be saved in a locked portion of the site.)
Eventually, the site could become a kind of "cyberspace security blanket" for returned deportees, or persons otherwise in Kosovo, since, with access to the internet, they could provide continuing assurance of their well-being and reports of their problems.
The mere announcement that this unusual website archive was being created might cool the ardor of Serb military, paramilitary or irregulars to commit further criminal acts. On a related part of the site could be information on and the names of Serbian officers and paramilitary personnel who will, in due course, be questioned.
In effect, the Serbs are waging a 19th century campaign of ethnic cleansing complete with destruction of documents on the theory that sufficient chaos can be created to make it impossible to reconstruct events. To discourage this campaign, a 21st century method, like the internet, is needed.
The KLA succeeded in destabilizing the uneasy balance in Kosovo between ethnic Albanian moderates and repressive Serbs by provoking, a few years ago, major Serb reprisals. In the traditional guerrilla fashion, the KLA knew this would isolate Albanian moderates, like Ibrahim Rugova, and swell KLA ranks with angry Albanians. In their effort to polarize the struggle, they killed Albanian moderates and, according to human rights groups, conducted extra-judicial executions against Serb hostages. Such a group, once armed, could not subsequently be controlled.
Arming the KLA would invite the Russians to arm the Serbs and, from a diplomatic point of view, would make it harder to hold NATO together in this struggle. It would prevent the contemplation of other possible solutions short of taking Kosovo away from Serbia. Indeed, the main value of discussing arming the KLA is the incentive it provides to Serbia to settle the conflict. Because one thing is certain: if a fully armed KLA got control of Kosovo, it would insist on Kosovo independence. In addition, the KLA would use such a victory to fight later to detach the Western part of Macedonia to secure the greater Albania for which it has called--or even to widen the war, if it began to lose, so as to force others to join the war.
The KLA would not permit the U.S. or NATO to drop out of the struggle simply because the KLA, without airpower, could not, by any stretch of the imagination, defeat the Serbs. With all this in mind, arming the KLA means allying ourselves with them permanently. And this seems, for the above reasons, especially inappropriate.
It is difficult to foreclose options in the absence of any clear strategy to fight and win the war. But it does seem that the KLA does not fit within any plausible strategy. However, the Serbs should be reminded that, if the U.S. were to withdraw from the struggle, the field would be left to the KLA, armed by private contributions, and this is something that Serbia would definitely not want.
Reviewed and Approved by the FAS Executive Committee
In April NATO bombs hit oil refineries and chemical plants near Belgrade releasing clouds of toxic smoke and gases over the city. According to Scientists from the University of Belgrade, a cocktail of chemicals billowed into the air while workers at the industrial complex panicked and released tons of ethylene dichloride into the Danube River. Additionally, during the attack, large quantities of the acid gas, hydrogen chloride, were released into the atmosphere.
Slobodan Tosovic, adviser to the Serbian Health Minister, accused NATO of pursing "indirect chemical war" against the FRY, because it was bombing the chemical plants even though "it knows very well its characteristics and potential." According to Tosovic, the attacks on the transformer stations also pose a danger, because they contain carcinogenic oil with high levels of PCBs. He said that some 150 metric tons of this oil had leaked from the Rakovica transformer station and through the Rakovicka River into the Sava and Danube rivers.
Life Memoir Describes Efforts To Save Kosovo and Other Events
FAS's discussions with ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova in 1992 on the issue of rent as a solution to the Kosovo problem which FAS is raising again, as discussed within on page 5 are summarized in Chapter 27 of Jeremy J. Stone's newly published life memoir "Every Man Should Try": Adventures of a Public Interest Activistt. This memoir is composed of 30 chapter-length reports of specific efforts made to resolve policy issues in arms control, human rights, ethnic conflict and good government and will be of very real interest to FAS members since much of this was done on FAS time during the last 30 years.
Additionally, Tosovic assessed that there was the possibility of NATO starting to attack the food-processing industry, thus engaging in biological warfare, in effect, because any large plant or brewery stores several tons of ammonia."
The rhetoric of the quote talks to the issue that Yugoslavia is desperately trying to highlight the NATO attacks at the expense of solid scientific analysis. By attempting to link the attacks to a systematic chemical or biological warfare plan by NATO, Tosovic stretches the evidence and plausibility of the charges to the extreme.
That said, the extent and depth of the ecological damage and the resulting health problems facing Yugoslavia after this war argue strongly in favor of a comprehensive and coherent multinational and multi year approach. Emergency humanitarian assistance represents at best a palliative. If the most important Western objective in Yugoslavia is support of democracy, and the second is resettlement of Kosovo refugees, the third must surely be the protection of the environment. -KPK
|Federation of American Scientists
307 Massachusetts Ave., NE
Washington, DC 20002
Voice: (202) 546-3300
Fax: (202) 675-1010
The Public Interest Report is published six times a year. Printed copies of this issue are available by contacting the FAS offices. An annual subscription costs $25.00.
See the FAS PIR index for a complete listing of past issues.