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– Hans Blix,
former IAEA Director-General

Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)

The Missile Technology Control Regime and Shifting Proliferation Challenges

While Iran and North Korea pose grave challenges, the MTCR norm can be expected to survive and sustain its
crucial contribution to international stability.


April 2018
By Leonard S. Spector

With North Korea conducting multiple flight tests of missiles that can carry nuclear payloads to the United States and Iran testing intermediate-range missile systems at will, an observer might conclude that the current map of global missile developments shows a lawless landscape of missile proliferation run amok.

In reality, such a map reveals much the opposite: a world in which the proliferation of missiles able to deliver weapons of mass destruction (WMD) has been suppressed to a remarkable degree.

The new Iranian medium-range Khoramshahr ballistic missile is displayed during a military parade September 22, 2017 in Tehran. The missile is likely derived from North Korea’s Musudan, which itself has origins in Soviet Union technology. (Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images)The cornerstone of this achievement has been the international norm against the possession of WMD-capable systems established through the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), now three decades old. Pyongyang and Tehran unquestionably pose grave challenges to this norm, yet even as the international community wrestles with these two difficult cases and several related missile-proliferation challenges, the MTCR norm can be expected to survive and sustain its crucial contribution to international stability.

The MTCR was established in 1987 by the members of the Group of Seven industrialized countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States) with the initial goal of limiting transfers, apart from manned aircraft, that could make a contribution to the delivery of nuclear weapons. This goal was subsequently expanded to limit transfers that could make a contribution to the delivery of all weapons of mass destruction, that is, nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.

The regime was not established by treaty. Rather, it is a voluntary association of states that have agreed to implement a uniform set of standards, known as the MTCR Guidelines, governing the export of complete missiles, their major components, and related equipment and technology.1 From inception, the guidelines defined the term “missile” to include “rocket systems (including ballistic missiles, space launch vehicles, and sounding rockets) and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems (including cruise missiles, target drones, and reconnaissance drones).”2

The guidelines contained a detailed annex, which has been modified from time to time, describing the items to be restricted. The most dangerous items, subject to the most stringent restrictions, are listed under the annex’s Category I. The guidelines provide that participating governments will exercise “particular restraint” in the export of such systems, most notably complete missiles able to deliver a 500-kilogram payload to a distance of 300 kilometers or more and major components of these systems. Any license applications for the export of such systems were to be reviewed with a “presumption of denial.”3

Richard Speier, one of the key U.S. negotiators of the guidelines, has explained that these parameters “were selected because 500 kilograms is the mass of a relatively unsophisticated nuclear weapon, and 300 kilometers is the strategic distance in the most compact theaters in which nuclear weapons were deemed likely to be used.”4 The so-called 300/500 standard subsequently played an important role in restraining proliferation in a number of settings. The guidelines also declared that, until further notice, the transfer of production facilities for Category I systems would not be authorized.

Category II items included a range of equipment, material, and technologies that could contribute to Category I systems, most of which had uses other than for missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. The guidelines provided “greater flexibility,” but required case-by-case review and restraint in allowing their transfers.5

Strengthening the MTCR

This basic two-tier framework and the ban on the export of production facilities for Category I systems remain in force. The original guidelines, however, were strengthened in a number of important respects in 1992-1993. After post-Persian Gulf War inspections revealed that Iraq had designed warheads for a variety of missiles intended to carry chemical and biological payloads, MTCR states agreed to take steps to restrict transfers of missiles below the Category I 300/500 threshold that could carry chemical and biological payloads weighing less than the nominal 500 kilograms of a crude nuclear weapon.

This led to three changes in the guidelines and annexes. First, the MTCR partners amended the opening sentence of the guidelines to read, “The purpose of these Guidelines is to limit the risks of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (i.e., nuclear, chemical and biological weapons), by controlling transfers that could make a contribution to delivery systems (other than manned aircraft) for such weapons.”

Second, partners added language declaring that “particular restraint” and the presumption of license denial standard would be applied not only in the case of missiles exceeding the 300/500 threshold, but would also be “exercised in the consideration of transfers of any items in the Annex, or of any [complete] missiles (whether or not in the Annex), if the [transferring country] Government judges, on the basis of all available, persuasive information…that they are intended to be used for the delivery of weapons of mass destruction.”

Finally, the MTCR members amended Annex II to add Item 19, requiring export licenses for missiles with a range of 300 kilometers or more, irrespective of payload capacity, and technology related to their development.6 These benchmarks are important for understanding the surprisingly limited number of states with missiles that exceed the original and modified MTCR 300/500 standards.

The membership of the MTCR increased rapidly during its first 10 years, growing from seven to 25 members. Currently the regime has 35 members. Admittance requires a consensus of all MTCR partners. MTCR members generally look for a prospective member’s sustained commitment to nonproliferation, as well as a track record of effective implementation of MTCR export controls. In a number of past instances, however, the United States conditioned its support for admission on the applicant’s elimination of Category I systems and, in the case of South Africa, on its termination of satellite launch vehicle programs with the potential to be converted to military purposes.7 In 2016, India was admitted without these requirements, consistent with the rules applied to certain earlier MTCR members, including France, the Soviet Union/Russia, the UK, and the United States.

In 2014 the MTCR initiated a process through which a state may become a formal unilateral adherent to the MTCR Guidelines and Annex. To attain this status, a state must notify the French MTCR Point of Contact in writing of its political commitment to control all of the items listed in the annex according to the guidelines, including any subsequent changes to those documents. Thereafter, the state is recognized on the MTCR website as a unilateral adherent. Estonia, Kazakhstan, and Latvia are the only countries to have completed this process. Certain other states, including Israel, have given the United States a pledge to adhere to the guidelines, which exempts them from potential sanctions under the U.S. Arms Export Control Act.8

China agreed to apply the MTCR Guidelines, but its application for membership remains under review because of concerns regarding its failure to implement the guidelines effectively. Finally, a number of other states, such as Cyprus and Iraq, have adopted the guidelines and annex to fulfill their obligations with respect to controlling missile-related exports under UN Security Council Resolution 1540, which requires all UN member states to control weapons of mass destruction and related materials and equipment, including systems for delivering such weapons.9

Category I Missile Proliferation

Diplomatic efforts built around MTCR standards are widely seen as having had a number of successes, including

  • the termination in 1990 of the joint Argentine-Egyptian-Iraqi project to develop the Condor II;10
  • Taiwan’s abandonment of its dual-capable satellite launch program in 1990;11
  • Brazil’s termination of two missile programs in the early 1990s;12
  • China’s decision not to transfer M-11 and M-9 missiles to Pakistan in 1992;
  • the impeding of India’s development of long-range rocket systems in the 1990s;
  • South Africa’s abandonment of its Aniston ballistic missile program and closely linked space launch vehicle program in 1994;13
  • the elimination of a variety of Category I missiles by Eastern European states, including Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia, during the 1990s and early 2000s;14
  • the initial limiting of South Korea’s offensive missile program to systems with a range of less than 300 kilometers, pursuant to an agreement with the United States in 2001 (the permissible range was subsequently extended);15 and
  • Libya’s agreement in 2003 to eliminate its Category I missiles, which was not fully executed until after the demise of the Qaddafi regime in 2011.16

Virtually all of these diplomatic interventions were aided by a variety of external developments, such as the changes in leadership in countries of concern, an improved security environment for some of them, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the desire of many states to become better integrated into the Western economic and security system, and the Persian Gulf War, which led to the elimination of Iraq’s missile arsenal under UN Security Council directives. Nonetheless, the existence of the MTCR and its standards enabled diplomats pursuing missile nonproliferation to exploit openings created by external events. In effect, the regime established missile nonproliferation as an international desideratum to be pursued more vigorously when opportunities arose.

These accomplishments are striking because the creators of the MTCR did not have the benefit of building on a pre-existing international treaty or well-established international norm regarding the dangers posed by unmanned delivery systems but had to create such a foundation of shared objectives. The regime had the advantage of arising during what may have been the “golden age” of WMD nonproliferation efforts.

In this regard, during the first decade of the MTCR,

  • Argentina, Brazil, and South Africa joined the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) as non-nuclear-weapon states;
  • the NPT was extended indefinitely;
  • Iraq’s WMD capabilities were eliminated by mandate of the UN Security Council following the Persian Gulf War;
  • Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine voluntarily relinquished Soviet-era nuclear weapons on their territory, the related missile delivery systems were destroyed, and the three countries joined the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon states;
  • the U.S.-North Korean Agreed Framework froze Pyongyang’s plutonium-production capability;
  • the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was concluded and opened for signature; and
  • the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) entered into force, leading to the destruction by parties to the treaty of any existing chemical arsenals.

These developments undoubtedly facilitated a number of the successes with respect to limiting the missile systems noted above. After all, when a state renounced nuclear or chemical weapons, renouncing the systems that might have delivered them became a somewhat easier task in terms of domestic political acceptance, at least in principle. Once a state eliminated weapons of mass destruction, the MTCR’s underlying objective of suppressing the spread of WMD-armed missiles effectively was achieved there, irrespective of the fate of any missile delivery systems themselves, as long as they were not exported to another WMD holder or aspirant. This point is important in understanding the current map of missile proliferation.

China, FrancU.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley displays remains of an Iranian-made ballistic missile fired against Saudi Arabia by Houthi rebels in Yemen. Speaking December 14, 2017 in Washington, she said Iran violated UN Security Council Resolution 2231 by providing such missiles to the Houthis.  (Photo: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)e, Russia, the UK, and the United States—the five permanent members of the UN Security Council—all possess nuclear weapons and long-range missiles to deliver them. India, North Korea, and Pakistan have declared their possession of nuclear weapons and their intent to use ballistic missiles exceeding MTCR Category I parameters currently in their possession to deliver them. Israel is widely understood to have a comparable missile-based nuclear deterrent (possibly including a Category I cruise missile), although it has never acknowledged this.17 Iran’s nuclear program created profound concerns internationally that its objective was the development of nuclear weapons, and Iran’s parallel development of a nuclear-capable intermediate-range missile was widely viewed as intended to serve as a nuclear weapons delivery system. Its nuclear program is now frozen for roughly 10 years under an agreement Iran signed with China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK, and the United States.

All of the regional powers mentioned above have intermediate-range ballistic missiles able to carry nuclear warheads over a distance of 1,200 kilometers. In addition, India has flight-tested a system with a range of 3,500 to 5,000 kilometers, and North Korea has demonstrated a missile with sufficient range to reach at least the western United States, some 8,000 kilometers distant.18 Syria possesses weapons of mass destruction, namely chemical weapons, probably in limited quantities as of early 2018, and Category I ballistic missiles capable of delivering them, although these missiles have not been used for this purpose in the country’s ongoing civil conflict.19

Aside from ballistic missile systems, India, Iran, Pakistan, and possibly Israel also possess cruise missiles whose ranges exceed the MTCR 300-kilometer benchmark. Research has not confirmed whether the cruise missile systems of the regional powers can carry the 500-kilogram payload associated with nuclear weapons, but all would be able to deliver chemical or biological weapons. None of these states, however, is known to have a militarized chemical or biological weapon capability.

The map of missile proliferation shows three groupings of states. The first, having weapons of mass destruction and powerful missiles, consists of 10 states: the nine possessors of nuclear weapons—China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, the UK, and the United States—and Syria which, like North Korea, has chemical weapons. The second group—states possessing powerful missiles but not weapons of mass destruction—include Iran, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Taiwan (cruise missiles), Yemen, possibly Ukraine, and a few other holders of increasingly obsolete Soviet-era Scud short-range ballistic missiles.20

If the second group of states have convincingly opted out of the WMD business, their possession of Category I missiles does not pose an immediate WMD proliferation problem, although in some theaters these systems when armed with conventional warheads can be destabilizing. In addition, as long as the future of Iran’s currently contained nuclear program remains uncertain, caution dictates that efforts to constrain its access to Category I missiles must continue. The great majority of states possess neither Category I missiles nor weapons of mass destruction.

The MTCR partners have sought the elimination of Category I missiles wherever possible, sometimes making this a condition for MTCR membership. The goal of elimination of these systems is certainly worthwhile, but even where Category I systems continue to be held, much has been accomplished if weapons of mass destruction have been convincingly eliminated as a concern. With this understanding, the achievements during the MTCR era can be seen as more substantial than may be generally appreciated.

A Shifting Environment

This analysis would indicate that the most serious proliferation challenges confronting the MTCR are limited to roughly a dozen countries. In practice, however, the MTCR has rarely acted to constrain the missile capabilities of the major nuclear powers, somewhat narrowing the regime’s focus.21

The most serious setbacks the MTCR has encountered over the years have been the expansions of the ballistic missile capabilities of five states that were not MTCR members, namely Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, and, until 2016, India, along with the regime’s inability to fully curtail trade in missile technology that has contributed to several of these programs.

Since the early 2000s, the nuclear and missile programs of the most acute concern at the UN Security Council have been those of North Korea and Iran. Currently, North Korea is subject to a Security Council-imposed embargo barring transfers to it of missile-related equipment and technology, and Iran is subject to a de facto embargo of such items.22 The Security Council has taken no action directly against India, Israel, or Pakistan to restrict their nuclear or missile programs, although the council’s adoption of Resolution 1540, requiring all states to control WMD-relevant goods, could restrict the three states’ access to such items without targeting these states by name. U.S. missile nonproliferation policymakers have focused most intensively on constraining the Iranian and North Korean programs, although programs in India, Israel, and Pakistan remain subject to certain U.S. missile-related restrictions.23

From the standpoint of the MTCR, the greatest current challenges are similarly focused on Iran and North Korea, namely restricting their global procurement activities in support of their ballistic missile programs and, in particular, support for those programs provided by entities in China.

MTCR states are pursuing what might be called the “classic” technology denial strategy to constrain the leakage of technology to the two states of concern. This strategy includes intensified scrutiny of export licenses, heightened attention by customs officials at border crossings and ports, promotion of industry internal compliance programs, and the like. Such a strategy also includes engagement with transit states to counter their use by Iranian and North Korean procurement networks to disguise the ultimate destination of smuggled missile-relevant goods. Also supporting MTCR goals, the United States under the Proliferation Security Initiative has built a network of states ready to assist in interdicting suspect cargoes while in transit.24

Despite these substantial efforts, the missile capabilities of Iran and North Korea have grown steadily, in part through clandestine bilateral collaboration that is largely beyond the reach of the just-noted control mechanisms.

China’s Role

Transfers of missile technology from China to states of concern is adding to these challenges. Such transfers have posed a decades-long quandary requiring particular attention. As former Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation Robert Einhorn and Gary Samore, former senior director for nonproliferation on the U.S. National Security Council staff, wrote in 2002,

China pledged to halt missile exports in 1992, 1994, 1998, and 2000. In the mid- and late 1990s, Beijing also passed laws on and strengthened bureaucratic oversight of its export controls. In spite of these steps, Chinese firms continued to transfer missile-related industrial technology to Iran, Libya, North Korea, Pakistan, and Syria. In August 2002, however, because of increased recognition of the threat that WMD posed to its own security, and after further talks with the United States, Beijing published a missile export control list that corresponded closely to the MTCR guidelines.25

Exports of Chinese missile-related goods to countries of concern continued, however, and in May 2003 the United States sanctioned China North Industries Corp. for transferring missile technology to Iran. Additionally, in September 2004, Washington imposed sanctions on the Chinese company Xinshidai, also reported as exporting missile-relevant equipment to Iran.26 Since this period, Washington has repeatedly imposed sanctions against other Chinese firms for assisting the Iranian and North Korean missile programs.27 Still, U.S. sanctioning of Chinese firms supporting the North Korean nuclear and missile program has continued, with the most recent sanctions imposed in August and September 2017.28

This photo from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency shows Hwasong-12 ballistic missiles during a military parade February 8 in Pyongyang. The history of leakage of sensitive technology from China to North Korea and Iran over many years leave questions unanswered regarding Beijing’s flawed implementation of its export control system. (Photo: KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Getty Images)U.S. officials hesitate to accuse Beijing of pursuing a deliberate national policy of supporting missile programs in states of concern. Rather, they state that China is committed to implementing strategic trade controls but lacks the ability to effectively enforce these rules, given the vast scale of commercial activity conducted by Chinese entities.29 Nonetheless, the history of leakage of sensitive technology from China to North Korea and Iran over so many years leaves many questions unanswered regarding Beijing’s flawed implementation of its export control system.

Sanctions Regimes

The role of the MTCR in addressing the Iranian and North Korean challenges, including the role of Chinese entities in supporting these programs, is somewhat limited at the moment and, in many respects, is overshadowed by the sanctions regimes imposed by the Security Council and the United States. At the Security Council, the principal contribution of the MTCR is the fact that the MTCR Annex is used to define what missile-related items are embargoed to both countries.

The embargoes themselves, however, are not the result of MTCR action. Indeed, the Security Council embargoes are more stringent than the MTCR Guidelines, amplifying them rather forcefully, by effectively prohibiting all transfers of items in the MTCR Annex, rather leaving the decision on approving a transfer to the discretion of the MTCR partner involved. The requirement for the inspection of all cargoes going to or from North Korea to prevent transfers of banned items, imposed by the Security Council in Resolution 2375, also goes far beyond requirements adopted in the MTCR context, as do Security Council restrictions on dealings with North Korean banks, which, among other consequences, will constrict Pyongyang’s ability to finance its procurement activities.

U.S. sanctions prohibit U.S. persons from engaging in any trade or financial activities with North Korea and expose foreign persons to asset freezes if they deal with any party sanctioned by the Security Council or the United States because of its links to North Korean nuclear or missile programs. These measures also go well beyond those adopted in the MTCR context.

Thus, it appears that the place of the MTCR in the international nonproliferation landscape is evolving. Although the scope of its missile nonproliferation rules is global, circumstances are driving the control regime toward focusing on the most salient cases, even as other actors are assuming the leading roles in addressing them. At the same time, the powerful new tools that the Security Council and the United States are bringing to bear against the advancing missile programs of Iran and North Korea are seeking to vindicate the nonproliferation principles the MTCR has placed front and center on the international stage. Champions of the regime should take considerable satisfaction from this contribution and from the state of the global map of missile proliferation.

ENDNOTES

1 Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), “Guidelines for Sensitive Missile-Relevant Transfers,” n.d., http://mtcr.info/guidelines-for-sensitive-missile-relevant-transfers/ (accessed March 7, 2018) (hereinafter MTCR Guidelines).

2 Some observers incorrectly state that unmanned systems other than ballistic missiles were added to the coverage of the MTCR at a later date. Later guideline changes focused solely on these systems may have given the misimpression that they were being addressed for the first time.

3 MTCR Guidelines, para. 2.

4 Richard Speier, “Missile Nonproliferation and Missile Defense: Fitting Them Together,” Arms Control Today, November 2007.

5 MTCR Guidelines, para. 1.

6 These systems were not subject to the “particular restraint”/“presumption of denial” standard unless the exporting MTCR member had reason to believe the system was intended for the delivery of weapons of mass destruction. In other cases, export licenses were to be required and restraint was to be exercised in approving such licenses. Although these control parameters are the most important modifications of the MTCR Guidelines for the discussion of missile transfers, two additional reinforcements of the guidelines deserve mention. In 1994 the group adopted a “no undercut” policy, under which partners must “consult each other before considering exporting an item on the [MTCR Annex] list that has been notified as denied by another Partner.” Further, in 2003 the partner countries agreed to a “catch-all” provision, providing for the control of exports of items not included on a control list when they may be intended for use in connection with delivery systems for weapons of mass destruction other than manned aircraft. See MTCR, “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs),” n.d., http://mtcr.info/frequently-asked-questions-faqs/ (accessed March 7, 2018).

7 The membership criteria as they stood in 2003 required that applicants forgo offensive Category I missiles. See Congressional Research Service, “Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and International Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (ICOC): Background and Issues for Congress,” RL31848, April 8, 2003, p. 7.

8 Arms Export Control Act of 1976, 22 U.S.C. § 2751.

9 UN Security Council, S/RES/1540, April 28, 2004.

10 U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, “Status of Condor II Ballistic Missile Project,” November 1, 1991, https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/DOC_0001175541.pdf. For further background, see Federation of American Scientists, ”Missile Programs,” May 30, 2012, https://fas.org/nuke/guide/argentina/missile/index.html; Wyn Bowen, The Politics of Missile Proliferation (New York: Palgrave-MacMillan, 2000), p. 43; Youliana Ivanova, “Goodbye Missiles, Hello NATO,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 58, No. 5 (September 2002).

11 Dinshaw Mistry, Containing Missile Proliferation (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2011), p. 97.

12 U.S. General Accounting Office, “Arms Control: U.S. Efforts to Control the Transfer of Nuclear-Capable Missile Technology,” NSIAD-90-176, June 1990, p. 16.

13 Federation of American Scientists, “Missile Technology Control Regime,” n.d., https://fas.org/nuke/control/mtcr/docs/941118-368095.htm (fact sheet released by the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, November 18, 1994).

14 Wyn Bowen, “The MTCR and EU Expansion,” Nonproliferation Review, Spring-Summer 1998, https://www.nonproliferation.org/wp-content/uploads/npr/bowen53.pdf.

15 Alex Wagner, “South Korea, U.S. Agree on Missile Guidelines, MTCR Membership,” Arms Control Today, March 2001.

16 Jeffrey Lewis, “Libya’s Scud-B Force,” ArmsControlWonk.org, August 22, 2011, http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/archive/204383/libyas-scud-b-force/.

17 In this paper, Israel is considered to possess nuclear arms.

18 Ankit Panda and Vipin Narang, “North Korea’s ICBM: A New Missile and a New Era,” War On The Rocks, July 6, 2017, https://warontherocks.com/2017/07/north-koreas-icbm-a-new-missile-and-a-new-era/.

19 Egypt is sometimes reported as having residual stores of chemical weapons from its intervention in the 1963-1967 Yemeni civil war and a number of aging Soviet-supplied Scuds. Given the uncertainty about its possession of these items and their likely obsolescence, in this paper Egypt is considered to possess neither weapons of mass destruction nor powerful missiles.

20 See “Elbrus (SS-1C Scud B),” Military-Today.com, n.d., http://www.military-today.com/missiles/scud.htm (accessed March 8, 2018).

21 Individual MTCR partners have taken steps to avoid contributing to the missile capabilities of their respective potential adversaries within this group, but this has been undertaken through the implementation of national security measures rather than the application of MTCR rules. Conversely, some transfers of Category I systems between members of this group, such as the lease by the United States of Trident missiles to the United Kingdom, should be noted.

22 Regarding North Korea, see UN Security Council, S/RES/2087, January 22, 2013. Regarding Iran, see UN Security Council, S/RES/2231, July 20, 2015. Technically these goods are not embargoed to Iran under Resolution 2231, but any transfers of items on the MTCR Annex must be approved by the Security Council, where one or more of the veto-wielding permanent members of the body can be expected to block the transaction. See UN Security Council, S/RES/2231, July 20, 2015, annex B, sec. 4(a); UN Security Council, S/RES/2375, September 11, 2017, paras. 7-12.

23 The United States, for example, does not provide Category I items to any of the latter states. Also in 2016, Washington sanctioned seven Pakistani entities associated with its missile program for violating U.S. export controls. See Anwar Iqbal, “U.S. Sanctions Seven Pakistani Entities,” Dawn, December 31, 2016.

24 Security Council sanctions resolutions have required states to prohibit their financial institutions from engaging in transactions that support such procurement activities and, in the case of North Korea, to expel its diplomats who facilitate procurement efforts and to inspect all cargoes going to or from North Korea to prevent transfers of banned items. Although such measures to constrain the procurement of missile-related goods are not found in the MTCR Guidelines, MTCR states, as UN member states, are required by the Security Council to implement these complementary measures, among others. See UN Security Council, S/RES/2094, March 7, 2013, paras. 2, 7; UN Security Council, S/RES/2270, March 2, 2016, para. 18; UN Security Council, S/RES/2375, September 11, 2017, paras. 7-8. See also Committee Established Pursuant to Resolution 1718 (2006), “Fact Sheet Compiling Certain Measures Imposed by Security Council Resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), 2094 (2013), 2270 (2016), 2321 (2016), 2356 (2017), 2371 (2017) and 2375 (2017),” November 3, 2017, https://www.un.org/sc/suborg/sites/www.un.org.sc.suborg/files/fact_sheet_updated_03_nov_2017.pdf.

25 Robert J. Einhorn and Gary Samore, “Ending Russian Assistance to Iran’s Nuclear Bomb,” Survival, Vol. 44, No. 2 (2002).

26 U.S. Department of the Treasury, “Recent OFAC Actions,” May 23, 2003, https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/OFAC-Enforcement/pages/20030523.aspx; Victor Zaborsky, “Does China Belong in the Missile Technology Control Regime?” Arms Control Today, October 2004. The article provides a detailed account of China’s unsuccessful efforts through October 2004 to join the MTCR.

27 For the current list of Chinese parties sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department for assisting foreign missile and nuclear programs, see “SDN List by Country,” n.d., https://www.treasury.gov/ofac/downloads/ctrylst.txt (accessed March 8, 2018).

28 U.S. Department of the Treasury, “Treasury Targets Chinese and Russian Entities and Individuals Supporting the North Korean Regime,” August 22, 2017, https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/sm0148.aspx; U.S. Department of the Treasury, “North Korea Designations; Non-proliferation Designations Updates,” September 26, 2017, https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/OFAC-Enforcement/Pages/20170926_33.aspx.

29 Author discussions with U.S. officials 2016-2017, Washington, D.C. See also, Niels Rasmussen, “Chinese Missile Technology Control—Regime or No Regime?” Danish Institute of International Studies, February 2007, https://www.files.ethz.ch/isn/29608/nra_chinese_missile_technology_control.pdf.


Leonard S. Spector is executive director of the Washington office of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, Middlebury College, or any of their sponsors.

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Posted: April 1, 2018

The Missile Technology Control Regime at a Glance

July 2017

Contact: Kelsey Davenport, Director for Nonproliferation Policy, (202) 463-8270 x102

Updated: July 2017

The Missile Technology Control Regime Guidelines and Annex

Established in April 1987, the voluntary Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) aims to limit the spread of ballistic missiles and other unmanned delivery systems that could be used for chemical, biological, and nuclear attacks. The regime urges its 35 members,1 which include most of the world's key missile manufacturers, to restrict their exports of missiles and related technologies capable of carrying a 500-kilogram payload at least 300 kilometers or delivering any type of weapon of mass destruction.2

Since its inception, the MTCR has been credited with slowing or stopping several missile programs by making it difficult for prospective buyers to get what they want or stigmatizing certain activities and programs. Argentina, Egypt, and Iraq abandoned their joint Condor II ballistic missile program. Brazil, South Africa, South Korea, and Taiwan also shelved or eliminated missile or space launch vehicle programs. Some Eastern European countries, such as Poland and the Czech Republic, destroyed their ballistic missiles, in part, to better their chances of joining the MTCR.3 The regime has further hampered Libyan and Syrian missile efforts.

Yet, the regime has its limitations. Iran, India, North Korea, and Pakistan continue to advance their missile programs. All four countries, with varying degrees of foreign assistance, have deployed medium-range ballistic missiles that can travel more than 1,000 kilometers and are exploring missiles with much greater ranges. India is testing missiles in the intercontinental range. These countries, which are not MTCR members except India, are also becoming sellers rather than simply buyers on the global arms market. North Korea, for example, is viewed as the primary source of ballistic missile proliferation in the world today. Iran has supplied missile production items to Syria.

How the MTCR Works

Each MTCR member is supposed to establish national export control policies for ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, space launch vehicles, drones, remotely piloted vehicles, sounding rockets, and underlying components and technologies that appear on the regime's Material and Technology Annex. Members can add items to or subtract them from the annex through consensus decisions.

The annex is divided into two separate groupings of items, Category I and Category II. Category I includes complete missiles and rockets, major sub-systems, and production facilities. Specialized materials, technologies, propellants, and sub-components for missiles and rockets comprise Category II.

Potential exports of Category I and II items are to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Approval for Category I exports is supposed to be rare. The regime's guidelines, which set out criteria for weighing possible exports, instruct members that "there will be a strong presumption to deny" Category I transfers. No exports of production facilities are to be authorized. MTCR restrictions for Category II exports are less severe, largely because many items in the category also have civilian uses. Members, however, are still asked to exercise caution in making such deals. No member can veto another's exports.

The MTCR identifies five factors that members should take into account when evaluating a possible export of controlled items:

  • Whether the intended recipient is pursuing or has ambitions for acquiring weapons of mass destruction;
  • The purposes and capabilities of the intended recipient's missile and space programs;
  • The potential contribution the proposed transfer could make to the intended recipient's development of delivery systems for weapons of mass destruction;
  • The credibility of the intended recipient's stated purpose for the purchase; and
  • Whether the potential transfer conflicts with any multilateral treaty.

MTCR members are asked to obtain an assurance from the intended recipient that it will only use the export for the purpose claimed when requesting the deal. Members are also to secure a pledge from the intended recipient that it will not transfer the requested item or any replicas or derivatives to a third party without permission.

Because the regime is voluntary and the decision to export is the sole responsibility of each member, the MTCR has no penalties for transfers of controlled items. However, U.S. law mandates that Washington sanction entities-individuals, companies, or governments (whether they are MTCR members or not)-exporting MTCR-controlled items to certain countries identified as proliferators or potential threats to U.S. security. Sanctions may also be levied if the United States judges the transfer contrary to the MTCR. Typically, Washington prohibits the charged entity from signing contracts, receiving aid, or buying arms from the U.S. government for a period of two years. Sometimes the penalties can be imposed for longer lengths of time or extended to commercial imports and exports as well.

Outside the MTCR

Several countries have pledged to abide by the MTCR without joining it. Israel, Romania, and the Slovak Republic have all committed to maintaining export controls consistent with the regime.

After several years of the U.S. curtailing its sale of missiles and missile technologies, China announced in November 2000 that it would not help other countries build ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. Beijing, which was a key contributor to Pakistan's missile development, and has in the past provided sensitive technology to countries like North Korea and Iran, also pledged that it would issue a comprehensive list of controlled items requiring government approval before export. That list, however, was not published until August 2002. In 2004, China applied for MTCR membership, and, at the time, voluntarily pledged to follow the regime's export control guidelines. Although China no longer sells complete missile systems and has tightened its export controls, its membership was rejected due to concerns that Chinese entities continued to provide sensitive technologies to countries developing ballistic missiles, such as North Korea.

In 2008 India voluntarily committed to following the MTCR export control guidelines, since that time the United States has been working to secure India's membership in the regime. India's announcement was made shortly before the Nuclear Suppliers Group granted an exemption to India. New Delhi continues to develop its own ballistic missile program. In June 2015, India formally applied for membership in the regime, but Italy blocked consensus on its application during the October 2015 plenary. Nine other countries applied as well in 2015, none of which were admitted into the regime. India was later admitted in June 2015. 

Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation

MTCR members spearheaded a voluntary November 2002 initiative, the Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (formerly known as the International Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation), calling on all countries to show greater restraint in their own development of ballistic missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction and to reduce their existing missile arsenals if possible. The aim of the initiative is to establish a norm against missiles that could be armed with chemical, biological, or nuclear warheads. As part of the initiative, participating countries are to annually exchange information on their ballistic missile and space launch vehicle programs, as well as provide advance notice of any launches of ballistic missiles or space launch vehicles. The Hague Code of Conduct has 138 member states, including all MTCR members except Brazil. Brazil has expressed concerns about how the initiative might affect its space program.

Notes:

1. MTCR members, followed by the year they joined the regime, are: Argentina (1993), Australia (1990), Austria (1991), Belgium (1990), Brazil (1995), Bulgaria (2004), Canada (1987), the Czech Republic (1998), Denmark (1990), Finland (1991), France (1987), Germany (1987), Greece (1992), Hungary (1993), Iceland (1993), India (2015), Ireland (1992), Italy (1987), Japan (1987), Luxembourg (1990), the Netherlands (1990), New Zealand (1991), Norway (1990), Poland (1998), Portugal (1992), Russia (1995), South Africa (1995), South Korea (2001) Spain (1990), Sweden (1991), Switzerland (1992), Turkey (1997), Ukraine (1998), the United Kingdom (1987), and the United States (1987).

2. Originally, the MTCR was limited to stopping the proliferation of nuclear-capable missiles, which was defined as a missile able to travel at least 300 kilometers with a 500-kilogram payload. Five hundred kilograms was considered the minimum weight of a first generation nuclear warhead, while 300 kilometers was believed to be the minimum distance needed to carry out a strategic strike. Members agreed in the summer of 1992 to expand the regime's objective to also apply to missiles and related technologies designed for chemical and biological weapons. That change took effect in January 1993. The move effectively tasked members with a making a more difficult and subjective assessment about an importer's intentions, as opposed to denying a specific capability (a missile able to deliver a 500-kilogram payload at least 300 kilometers), because many more missiles and unmanned delivery vehicles could be adapted to deliver lighter chemical and biological weapons payloads.

3. Prospective MTCR members must win consensus approval from existing members. U.S. policy is that new members that are not recognized nuclear-weapon states must eliminate or forgo ballistic missiles able to deliver a 500-kilogram payload at least 300 kilometers. The United States, however, made an exception in 1998 for Ukraine, permitting it to retain Scud missiles. Three years later, Washington also agreed to let South Korea develop missiles with ranges up to 300 kilometers to secure its membership in the MTCR. Seoul previously agreed in 1979 to limit its missile development to those with ranges less than 180 kilometers. South Korea was granted another extension in October 2012. Seoul and Washington reached an agreement allowing South Korea to extend the range of its ballistic missiles to 800 kilometers with a 500 kilogram payload. This extension will allow Seoul to target all of North Korea. South Korea tested a ballistic missile with a range of 500 km in June 2015 and announced in October 2015 that it would deploy systems with an 800 km range in 2017.

Nuclear/Ballistic Missile Nonproliferation

Posted: July 25, 2017

Mapping Nuclear Security and Nonproliferation Efforts

Sections:

Description: 

This new resource aims to inform policymakers, scholars, and the general public on the role that overlapping multilateral initiatives play in nonproliferation efforts.

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New Online Resource Maps Efforts to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and Curb the Spread of Nuclear Weapons

For Immediate Release: December 6, 2016

Media Contacts: Tony Fleming, director of communications, 202-463-8270 ext. 110

(Washington, DC)—The Arms Control Association today launched a new online resource in mapping and tracking the objectives and key activities of five major nuclear nonproliferation regimes.

The Nuclear Nonproliferation Initiatives Mapping Project aims to inform and update nuclear policy experts, scholars, students, and the general public, on the role that overlapping multilateral initiatives play in bolstering the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) by securing weapons-usable materials, regulating the spread of dual-use nuclear ballistic missile technologies, and blocking the illicit transfer of weapons-related items.

The Arms Control Association is launching a New Online Resource Maps Efforts to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and Curb the Spread of Nuclear WeaponsProject information and resources are available online at NuclearNonProMap.org
 
The five initiatives examined in this project include

  • the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism,
  • the Missile Technology Control Regime,
  • the Nuclear Suppliers Group,
  • the Proliferation Security Initiative, and
  • the G7 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

"Each of these initiatives plays a critical role in reinforcing governments' efforts under the NPT, which entered into force in 1970, to combat the threat of nuclear terrorism, prevent the rise of new nuclear-armed actors, and strengthening the global nuclear security architecture," noted Kelsey Davenport, director of non-proliferation policy, who developed the site. 

In addition to displaying the geographic scope and providing a brief background of each initiative, this project provides general recommendations that could improve the effectiveness of each in the years ahead. These recommendations are based on open source information about the work of each initiative.

The project also presents options for collaboration amongst these voluntary groups to amplify impacts and results. These recommendations are meant to spur creative thinking about how these voluntary initiatives can adapt and evolve to better address future threats and challenges.
 
By consolidating references and recommendations, the project serves as a resource to better understand the role that voluntary intergovernmental initiatives play in bolstering nonproliferation and nuclear security efforts. The project was made possible by the generous support of the MacArthur Foundation.

The site will be updated periodically to reflect the changing membership and priorities of each initiative, developments related to the challenges they address, as well as additional recommendations for strengthening multilateral efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and combat nuclear terrorism.

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The Arms Control Association is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.

Author:

Posted: December 2, 2016

The Nuclear Nonproliferation Initiatives Mapping Project

Visit the full Project site at NuclearNonProMap.org

Table of Contents

Posted: November 21, 2016

India Joins Ballistic Missile Initiatives

India joined a voluntary regime that promotes ballistic missile transparency and was admitted to an export control regime designed to prevent the spread of ballistic missiles. 

July/August 2016

By Kelsey Davenport

India joined a voluntary regime last month that promotes transparency around ballistic missile development and was admitted to an export control regime designed to stem the spread of technologies relevant to developing missiles and unmanned systems capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). 

New Delhi announced on June 2 that it subscribed to the Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation. On June 27, the Dutch chair of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Piet de Klerk, released a statement saying that the “formal procedures” for Indian membership in the regime were finalized. 

India’s membership in the MTCR was expected after a June 7 joint U.S.-Indian statement, released during Indian President Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington, said that Modi and U.S. President Barack Obama looked forward to India’s “imminent entry” into the MTCR. 

The Hague code of conduct is a voluntary, multilateral initiative subscribed to by 138 countries. It calls on member states “to exercise maximum possible restraint in the development, testing and deployment of ballistic missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction (WMD), including, where possible, to reduce national holdings of such missiles.” States also agree not to assist other countries in the development of ballistic missile programs and to “exercise vigilance” in assisting in space launch programs, given the applicability of the technology to missiles. 

Any state can join the code of conduct by subscribing to the group’s principles. Participating states agree to submit pre-launch notifications and declare policies related to ballistic missile development on an annual basis. Austria serves as the administrator for the group. 

India already notifies Pakistan at least 72 hours in advance of ballistic missile flight tests under an agreement reached by the two countries in 2005. (See ACT, November 2005.

The MTCR is an initiative designed to prevent the spread of missiles and unmanned systems capable of delivering nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. The regime, which was formed in 1987, defines WMD-capable delivery systems as missiles or drones capable of carrying a 500-kilogram payload a distance of 300 kilometers. 

MTCR members agree to consider export policy guidelines designed to limit the spread of technologies applicable to the development of WMD-capable missiles and drones.

With India, the MTCR now comprises 35 member states, and new members are admitted on the basis of consensus. 

De Klerk’s statement said that India’s membership “will strengthen international efforts to prevent proliferation of delivery systems” capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction.

An official familiar with India’s bid to join the MTCR said on June 22 that one of New Delhi’s “primary motivations” for joining these regimes is to strengthen its bid to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). The official said that India is trying to represent itself as a “responsible member of the international community committed to countering proliferation” of weapons of mass destruction and related technologies. 

Despite these steps, India was not admitted to the NSG at the group’s plenary meeting in June (see page 23).

The official said that the impact of India’s membership on slowing missile proliferation depends on how vigorously New Delhi adheres to MTCR export controls. 

India attempted to join the MTCR at the group’s last plenary meeting, in October 2015, but was blocked by Italy over an unrelated matter. (See ACT, November 2015.) At the time of application, India said its space program was suffering because it was not a member of the regime. 

Many technologies and materials applicable to ballistic missile development are also applicable to space launch vehicles, although the MTCR says the regime is not designed to inhibit space programs. 

India’s membership does not guarantee it access to sensitive technologies, and other MTCR partner countries can still deny exports because the regime’s guidelines “do not distinguish between exports to Partners and exports to non-Partners,” according to a summary on the MTCR website.

Posted: July 5, 2016

How Should Washington Respond to Iran’s Ballistic Missile Tests?

Iran’s recent ballistic missile tests, while extremely unhelpful, should not come as a surprise. And although the missile tests violate UN Security Council Resolution 1929, they are not a violation of the soon-to-be-implemented nuclear deal between six world powers and Iran. There should be consequences for violations of Security Council resolutions. However, U.S. policymakers should put the risks posed by the missile tests in perspective and pursue effective actions that address the violation, but do not undermine progress toward reducing Iran’s nuclear potential. Despite the passage of UN...

India’s Bid to Join Missile Regime Fails

November 2015

By Kelsey Davenport

India’s bid to join a multilateral regime designed to stem the spread of certain types of missiles and drones failed last month when its application was blocked by Italy, an official who attended the meeting said.

The official said in an Oct. 19 e-mail that Italy’s objection to India’s membership in the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) was likely motivated by a bilateral dispute between Rome and New Delhi unrelated to the regime.

He and other sources cited a 2012 incident in which two Italian marines guarding an Italian cargo ship killed an Indian fisherman. Indian officials arrested the marines, who claimed that they fired warning shots and were attempting to guard the ship. India and Italy are involved in a dispute over the trial.

India said in June that it applied for membership in the MTCR, an initiative designed to prevent the spread of missiles and unmanned systems capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

India’s application for membership was considered at the annual plenary, which was held Oct. 5-9 in the Dutch city of Rotterdam. Membership is determined by consensus of the group, which currently has 34 members.

Vikas Swarup, spokesman for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, said on Oct. 9 that the application was well received but “remains under consideration.”

The regime, which was formed in 1987, defines WMD-capable delivery systems as missiles or drones capable of carrying a 500-kilogram payload over a distance of 300 kilometers. India already possesses a number of missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

MTCR members agree to abide by export policy guidelines designed to limit the spread of technologies applicable to the development of WMD-capable missiles and drones.

Swarup said that India’s membership would “strengthen global nonproliferation objectives.”

From left to right, Indian Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman, Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker speak to reporters after a meeting in Washington on September 22. In a joint statement with India issued that day, the United States expressed its support for India’s entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime at the group’s meeting in October. [Photo credit: Prakash Singh /AFP/Getty Images]The United States backed India’s bid for membership and affirmed its support prior to the plenary in a Sept. 22 statement on U.S.-Indian relations. The Obama administration voiced support for Indian membership five years ago (see ACT, December 2010) and has consistently supported it since then.

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment on India’s unsuccessful membership bid.

When India applied to join the regime, it said that its space program had suffered because it was not a member of the regime. Membership would not ensure that India would be able to purchase restricted items because MTCR guidelines “do not distinguish between exports to Partners and exports to non-Partners,” according to a summary on the MTCR website. But India has argued that membership would raise its profile as a responsible state committed to nonproliferation.

Technology applicable to missile development is also used in space programs. The statement issued by MTCR members after the plenary meeting noted that the regime is not designed to “impede technological advancement and development, including space programmes,” as long as it does not contribute to WMD-capable delivery systems.

India is not the only country to have applied for membership. Nine additional countries are seeking to join the regime, none of which were accepted, said the official who attended the meeting.

 The official said that Russia objected to allowing several eastern European countries, including Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, to join the regime.

The Oct. 9 statement said that individual applications for membership were “thoroughly discussed” and the issue of expanding the membership will remain on the agenda. The last country admitted to the MTCR was Bulgaria in 2004.

States that are not members of the regime can voluntarily adhere to the export guidelines. The statement noted that, since last year’s plenary, Estonia and Latvia pledged to use the regime guidelines as the basis for their export controls of missile-related technologies, and the statement encouraged other countries to do the same.

Posted: November 2, 2015

Rushing to Failure, Again

Hit or Miss, Sunday's Missile Defense Test Will Not Justify Expansion If the interceptor in Sunday's test hits, its test record would be one-for-three. Good for baseball, bad for stopping nukes. The United States has better alternatives. By Tom Z. Collina In 2004, President George W. Bush began fielding the Ground-Based Missile Defense (GMD) system that is in place today, composed of 30 interceptor missiles in Alaska and California, intended to counter a possible long-range missile attack from North Korea or Iran. Ten years later, it is all-too clear that the prototype system was rushed into...

Saudi Arabia Displays Missiles

In an April 29 parade, Saudi Arabia publicly displayed two ballistic missiles that it purchased from China in the 1980s.

Kelsey Davenport

In an April 29 parade, Saudi Arabia publicly displayed two ballistic missiles that it purchased from China in the 1980s.

This display is Saudi Arabia’s first public acknowledgement of the purchase of Dong Feng-3 (DF-3) missiles.

It remains unclear how many missiles were part of the sale. Estimates range from 30 to 50.

The DF-3 was developed by the Chinese in the 1960s and first deployed in 1971. Saudi Arabia is not known to have tested a DF-3.

It is a liquid-fueled, single-stage missile with a range of about 3,000 kilometers for a 1,000-kilogram payload. It can carry nuclear weapons, but the missiles sold to the Saudis have conventional warheads. China reportedly provided guarantees to the United States that the missiles were modified to prevent them from ever being used to carry nuclear warheads.

The range of the DF-3 allows Saudi Arabia to target Iran. Some experts believe that Saudi Arabia may have displayed the DF-3 as a show of strength, given the hostile relationship between the two countries and Riyadh’s concern about Iran’s nuclear program.

Saudi Arabia reportedly purchased more-modern missiles from China, including the DF-21, a medium-range ballistic missile. No DF-21 missiles were displayed in the April parade. Reports of the sale first emerged in 2010.

The DF-21 is a two-stage, solid-fueled missile with a 2,000-kilometer range. China first deployed the DF-21 in 1991. It is considered a more reliable system than the DF-3, and its solid fuel makes it more mobile.

Posted: June 2, 2014

India Tests Ballistic Missile for Subs

India successfully tested a new, longer-range submarinelaunched ballistic missile (SLBM) on March 24, Indian news outlets reported last month.

Kelsey Davenport

India successfully tested a new, longer-range submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) on March 24, Indian news outlets reported last month.

The test of the missile, known as the K-4, took place off the southeastern coast in the Bay of Bengal using a submerged pontoon. The two-stage, nuclear-capable missile traveled approximately 3,000 kilometers, the news accounts said.

India did not immediately publicize the missile test. But The Hindu on May 8 quoted officials who were present at the test as calling it “excellent” and saying that they would conduct “many more missions” like it to increase the reliability of the missile.

The K-4 eventually is to be deployed on Indian submarines, the first of which is currently undergoing testing.

Avinash Chander, director-general of India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), said May 13 that India would be conducting a test launch of the K-4 from the INS Arihant “within the next few months.”

The DRDO is the main Indian government entity responsible for developing new, advanced military technologies.

India announced the successful development of a shorter-range SLBM, the K-15, in July 2012 and indicated at that time that the longer-range K-4 was under development. (See ACT, September 2012.)

According to the DRDO, the K-15 has a maximum range of 700 kilometers for a 700-kilogram payload.

Only four other countries—China, France, Russia, and the United States—have the capability to produce SLBMs. Although the United Kingdom deploys such missiles, they are produced in the United States.

India is planning to develop four nuclear submarines in total, and the boats are designed to carry four K-4 missiles or 12 K-15 missiles. New Delhi is planning to deploy the submarines by 2023.

Posted: June 2, 2014

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