"...the Arms Control Association [does] so much to keep the focus on the issues so important to everyone here, to hold our leaders accountable to inspire creative thinking and to press for change. So we are grateful for your leadership and for the unyielding dedication to global nuclear security."

– Lord Des Browne
Vice Chairman, Nuclear Threat Initiative
October 20, 2014
Russia Holds Second GCS Conference

Continuing to build upon a concept it proposed in June 1999, on February 15 Moscow hosted the second conference on its Global Control System (GCS) initiative to combat missile proliferation. Governments from over 70 countries sent high-level representatives, including China, Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan—all states of missile proliferation concern. The United States was the only member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), an arrangement among 32 countries aiming to stem missile proliferation, that declined to send a representative.

At the first GCS conference in March 2000, Russia outlined the framework for a multilateral regime consisting primarily of an international missile prelaunch notification agreement, a system of incentives for "stimulating and encouraging" states to forgo the possession of missile systems capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction, and an international forum devoted to continually addressing missile non-proliferation issues.

According to an official familiar with the discussions, at this year's conference GCS participants discussed an international code of conduct on ballistic missile non-proliferation that was first aired at MTCR meetings last year. Unlike the MTCR's restrictions on missile suppliers, the proposed code would tackle ballistic missile non-proliferation from the demand side, placing limitations on states seeking to advance their missile capabilities. Details on the code are not yet public.

According to the official, India and China—both states outside the MTCR regime—seemed willing to consider such a code of conduct, but only under the auspices of the United Nations.

While not attending the conference, Washington agreed last September, in a joint statement with Moscow, to work "on a new mechanism" to integrate the Russian GCS proposal, the missile code of conduct, and the MTCR's existing framework. (See ACT, October 2000.) A U.S. official said that Washington does not support elements of the GCS proposal outside the context of the MTCR.

While the method for building on this year's meeting remains unclear, a Russian Foreign Ministry statement said that the conference's participants suggested "a gradual practical elaboration" of the GCS, which may include bringing the proposal to the UN.