Today, President George W. Bush signed into law comprehensive legislation which included key provisions authored by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA-40) to target the proliferation of shoulder-fired missiles. Through briefings, hearings, and legislation, the terrorist threat from shoulder-fired missiles was a focus of the Subcommittee on International Terrorism and Nonproliferation throughout 2006, chaired by Royce.
"Were international terrorists to obtain shoulder-fired missiles, the consequences could be deadly. An attack against a civilian airliner could have a grave impact on the American psyche, airline industry, and economy, while America's enemies would gain a big psychological boost. Today's action is a step towards lessening this threat to civilian aviation worldwide," said Royce after the President's signature.
Specifically, the provisions authorize the State Department to provide assistance to secure or eliminate shoulder-fired missiles. The bill also sanctions countries that knowingly transfer these dangerous weapons to state sponsors of terrorism or to terrorist groups.
"The goal is to lock-down or destroy shoulder-fired missiles around the world so that they are kept out of the hands of terrorists. The best defense is a good offense, so this proactive effort makes sense. It is also important that we put producing and proliferating countries on notice that we consider this a significant threat - and that they will be held accountable for knowingly transferring shoulder-fired missiles to terrorists or their state sponsors," said Royce.
Shoulder-fired missiles are also known by the acronym MANPADS, which stands for man-portable air defense systems. The provisions of Royce's "Shoulder-fired Missile Threat Reduction Act of 2006" were included in H.R. 6060, the Department of State Authorities Act of 2006, which was one of the last pieces of legislation to clear the 109th Congress before it adjourned.