The United States is investing $1 million in support of Croatia as it safely disposes of its remaining inventory of 71 out-of-date man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) and improves the physical security and stockpile management of its arms and munitions depots.
The Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, which leads U.S. efforts for conventional weapons destruction programs worldwide, will work closely with Croatia’s Ministry of Defense and the U.S. Embassy in Zagreb to ensure the safe and complete destruction of the MANPADS.
In the wrong hands, these shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles pose a serious threat to civilian aviation. Previous U.S.-Croatia initiatives have resulted in the destruction of 929 of its excess MANPADS. Under this recently concluded agreement, Croatia plans to dispose of up to 17,000 tons of surplus munitions.
This support will also help Croatia improve the physical protection and storage of its remaining conventional weapons and munitions. The importance of such aid was illustrated earlier this year by the catastrophic explosions caused by a brushfire outside a Croatian munitions depot near Knin, which completely destroyed the facility and triggered evacuations of nearby villages.
Since 1993, the United States, working through the Slovenia-based International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance, has also been assisting Croatia with demining and distribution of mine risk education materials to communities in former conflict areas. In Fiscal Year 2011 alone, the United States devoted over $2.5 million to this effort, in addition to the $1 million for this new MANPADS destruction and depot improvement initiative.
The United States is the world’s leading provider for financial and technical assistance for conventional weapons destruction and humanitarian mine action worldwide, providing approximately $1.9 billion in aid to 81 countries since 1993 to promote peace and security. To learn more about the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement’s conventional weapons destruction efforts, visit www.state.gov/t/pm/wra.