Trends in The Missile Technology Control Regime

Rajiv Nayan,Research Officer,IDSA



The post-World War II period has seen the emergence of the missile as an important and highly sophisticated method of warfare. In combination with aircraft it has sought to provide a formidable shape to the armoury of any country. In the beginning of the post-World War II period, only the superpowers were the possessors of the missile systems of a sophisticated variety. Gradually, many other countries realised its importance and, embarked on the path of missile acquisition. There were many developing countries among them,too. This task was conducted through both means—indigenous development and outright purchase. This disturbed the great powers. In response, one more export control regime was brought about. Earlier, the Coordination Committee on Multilateral Exports (COCOM), set up in 1949, had the primary objective to deny technology to the Eastern bloc or the Warsaw countries. It was purely a Western grouping. In the 1970s, the Zangger Committee and the Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG) were formed. The objective of the Zangger Committee, the NSG and the COCOM was to stop further proliferation of nuclear weapons and related technology, equipment and components. The Australia Group, set up in 1985, targetted the proliferation of chemical agents and, in the process of time, biological weapons, too. The change that had taken place since the formation of the Zangger Committee and continued with the formation of the NSG or the London Club as well as the Australia Group was further ensured with the establishment of the new regime. This regime had a different objective and a different orientation. The objective of the regime was to halt further proliferation of missiles of a specified category. Unlike the COCOM, this was oriented towards the South or developing countries, as were the other regimes. Of these regimes, all except COCOM are existing. The COCOM was formally disbanded in March 1994.

The missile oriented regime—the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)—was formally set up on April 16, 1987. It was a culmination of efforts made since the 1970s. It is clarified that the MTCR is neither a treaty, nor an executive agreement, but a set of guidelines.1 Now, the membership of the MTCR has reached 29.2 It contains an annex which is further divided into two categories encompassing 20 items.3 The first two items on the annex are exclusively devoted to Category I. Item 1 provides information about the complete rocket systems and unmanned air vehicles (UAV) which can deliver at least a 500 kg payload to a range of at least 300 km. The complete rocket systems include ballistic missile systems, space launch vehicles and sounding rockets, while UAV systems include cruise missile systems, target drones and reconnaissance drones. Item 1 also refers to the specially designed production facilities for these systems. The sub-systems which can be used in the systems of Item 1 are included in Item 2. These are specially designed production facilities, production equipment, individual rocket stages, re-entry vehicles, solid or liquid propellant rocket engines, guidance sets capable of achieving system accuracy of 3.33 percent or less of the range, thrust vector control sub-systems, warhead safing, arming, fuzing and firing mechanisms, and so forth.

Many details pertaining to these equipment, components and technology, which were left out of these two items, have been included in Items 19 and 20. However, there is a provision of relaxation on certain goods like guidance sets, thrust vector control sub-systems and warhead safing, arming, fuzing and firing mechanisms. Category II begins with Item 3 and is extended up to Item 18. This category has got details of propulsion components and equipment; propellants and constituent chemicals for propellants; equipment, technical data and procedures for the production of structural composites; equipment systems, specially designed components and software as well as associated production and test equipment for instrumentation, navigation and direction finding; flight control systems and technology and components; different types of computers, and so on. The present paper is going to map trends in, and patterns of, the MTCR over its eleven years of existence.


The US has been found pushing the regime all along. It has been taking a lead in formulating new clauses, targetting the countries and imposing sanctions on the suspected countries or countries genuinely involved in this. The basic guidelines and later modifications have been guided by the American Presidential Directives, the US export control policies and laws and several such proposals. This fact is also true for other export control regimes. This has been a matter of discord between the US and European industries. Europeans feel that the US always tries to impose its will on others. They begrudge that the US expects the European and other countries to adhere to the unilateral American laws and regulations.4

Like other regimes, the MTCR can only be implemented through the domestic laws of a country. Without national legislation, the MTCR will have no meaning. Consequently, the effects of different customs and political cultures have made the MTCR laws of different countries variegated in operation. This lack of uniformity in laws has been an issue of discord among member-states. There are reports of inner dissent in some countries like the US. The American companies feel that the activist role of the US has led to the formulation of stringent laws which hurt American companies badly in relation to other developed countries which have not drafted very stiff laws. Interestingly, the MTCR has promoted diversification of arms purchase. The US' clients like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have moved to China for the purchase of the prohibited items like missiles. Some others like the UAE have preferred to go for intra-bloc diversification. It has sought cruise missiles from France. The countries that have less stringent laws and a relaxed approach toward the MTCR are definitely approached.

In recent years, the MTCR has also witnessed a continued battle between the US Administration in general, on one side, and its intelligence agencies, on the other. The Administration, by and large, is guided by the dynamics of world politics. The influence of politics has affected the implementation of the MTCR. Intelligence reports are shared in a discriminatory way. Even members are denied data. Frequently, to put a pressure on the US government, its intelligence agencies leak the reports through the media. There has been a subtle tussle between the US government and intelligence agencies. Nevertheless, the Administration has always succeeded.

The MTCR was set up with only seven members who are called the original or founding members. These countries are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US. With the process of time, the membership has been increasing. Several countries have become members since then. As discussed, now the number has come to 29. Many old targetted countries have been coopted. This was done precisely because these original members had the feeling that some of these countries might run a parallel grouping. Through this grouping they could have complemented each other's needs; precisely, there was a fear of technology bartering. The threat was not just in the realm of the development of missiles in the proscribed category but was also due to the development of autonomous technology transactions systems for peaceful purposes among the developing countries. These countries were brought into the MTCR fold with added incentives and threats of coercion. On April 23, 1991, the former Soviet Union demanded the removal of restrictions imposed by COCOM as a precondition for its assent to join the MTCR.5

On September 29, 1993, Bill Clinton promised that the US would sympathetically consider the case of the transactions of dual-use technology equipment and components to the members of the MTCR in order to promote the abidingness of the regime by a maximum number of countries.6 On September, 27, 1993, Clinton promulgated the Presidential Review Directive No. 8. It enunciated liberalisation of exports of space launch vehicles, missiles and their technologies to the MTCR members.7 This faced resistance in the Senate in early September 1993.8

In addition, several countries have been encouraged to become adherents of the regime. A few countries became adherents first and full-fledged members later. In May 1992, South African Minister of Foreign Affairs Pik Botha made a statement, "It is the intention of the South African government to adhere to the guidelines of the MTCR as a prelude to its possible membership."9 However, there is no trend indicating that all new members had to become adherents to take membership. The method of the stick and carrot was also used for making the countries adherents to the regime.The US agreed to remove some curbs on defence exports to Israel, but only with the condition that Israel would become the follower of the MTCR.10 The pressure of the US forced Israel to even advance the date of adherence by one year. Israel was threatened that the American involvement in the Arrow programme might be scaled down and sanctions could be imposed against certain Israeli firms.11 Officially, the Israeli Minister denied any pressure on Israel for adhering to the MTCR.12 Presently, there are three adherent countries. All these countries are being persuaded to become proper members so that no country capable of producing and possessing missiles remains outside the gambit of the MTCR and turns unregulated supplier or potential supplier of missiles and missile-related equipment.

This concern has found expression in yet another form. In the 1994 Stockholm plenary meeting, members emphasised to "intensify their contacts and cooperation with non-partners in order to foster understanding of the purposes and goals of the MTCR and to promote cooperation, confidence-building and stability, particularly, at the regional level."13 It was envisaged that the countries outside the MTCR should be encouraged to organise their own export control system for ballistic missiles and related technology. The MTCR member-states are expected to involve them in restraint and vigilance in missile related sales outside. The objective was to deter these countries from becoming potential suppliers and trans-shippers of missile technology. Ostensibly, it is put forward that non-members might unknowingly become parties to missile proliferation, so, they need constant guidance.14 South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia were the initial targets of this plan.15 The MTCR member-countries have organised workshops for the non-member countries which have received technology listed on the MTCR. These countries have certified that they have no plans to develop missiles. Through this mechanism, the third party sale has been made the target.

In the beginning, at the time of the setting up of the MTCR or even before that when informal negotiations for the MTCR were on, only nuclear weapons had been targetted. Later, it was perceived that apart from nuclear-tipped missiles, there were dangers from missiles carrying chemical and biological weapons. The lethality of chemical and biological weapons was well established; they had already been clubbed with nuclear weapons in the category of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). So, it was increasingly emphasised that the focus of the regime should not be limited just to nuclear weapons, but should stretch to the entire WMD. This thinking grew stronger with the Gulf War experience. At that time, it was believed that the intensity of chemical weapons proliferation was much greater than that of nuclear weapons because of the low technology and financial involvement in building chemical weapons. Again, the US took the lead in mobilising other MTCR countries to include the criterion of WMD to deny missile and missile related technology. Finally, in January 1993, an amendment was made in the guidelines and with that the "Strong Presumption of Denial" has to operate for other categories of WMD, not just for nuclear weapons.

In the same meeting, the range yardstick of the MTCR was made non-essential. This action was a corollary to the inclusion of chemical and biological weapons in the MTCR. It was continuously asserted that chemical and biological weapons are light in weight. The point, that chemical weapons of high lethality can come in a lighter payload and this may not violate the weight parameter of the MTCR, was raised. Moreover, it was assessed that the reduced payload can help in increasing the range of a missile. With that followed the zero payload concept, and simultaneously, the range factor was overcome,too. The same principle of Strong Presumption of Denial is operating as the guiding principle of circumscription of the parameters of the MTCR. Although there is no evidence of the linkage of the need of the circumvention of the parameters of the MTCR to the development of tactical warheads, mini and micro nukes, still it cannot be denied that 1993 was the period when the debate over mini and micro nukes had reached its peak. A sub-kiloton weapon can be mounted on a missile with a lesser range. The American decision makers must have thought over that. They knew very well that if the US made it today, other countries would follow suit any day. India through the present series of tests has also demonstrated the capability of making such a munition.

When the MTCR was officially announced, it contained the provisions for the prohibition of both ballistic and cruise missile trade and regulation of missile technology of both types in the specified categories. However, there has been a greater emphasis on ballistic missiles. Generally, the programme targetted under the regime has been of ballistic missiles, though quite often the MTCR countries have been expressing concern over cruise missiles. But in implementation, pursuance of cruise missiles was not as vigorous as it was for ballistic missiles. A specialist like Richard Speier had once expressed the view that target drones or reconnaissance drones or remotely piloted vehicles beyond a certain size, are cruise missiles.16

In recent years, the threat of ballistic missile proliferation is perceived to be coming from three sources: indigenous development, conversion of existing anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs), or UAVs into land attack cruise missiles,and direct purchase from major industrial suppliers.17 Of the three sources, some commentators perceive that the most dangerous is the threat emanating from the outright purchase of cruise missiles.18 This fear is based on a recent report of the French sale of the Black Shahine version of Apache cruise missiles to the UAE.19 It has been opined by various commentators that there is too much ambiguity in fixing the range of cruise missiles. And, in fact, this ambiguity leads to the proliferation of cruise missiles. The 1992 offer of Russia for trade of a shorter range version of the 3,000 km AS-15 cruise missile, the Israeli-Chinese collaborations on the Delilah modification programme, the Chinese development of land-attack cruise missiles, the development of cruise missiles by certain European countries like Germany and Britain, and so on, are projected as special concerns vis-a-vis the future cruise missile proliferation.

It is noted that the Chinese series of Silkworm missiles is already circulating all over. It is believed that many countries possessing missiles of this series are trying to extend their range. In this regard, the Chinese turbojet powered HY-4 Silkworm missile is frequently cited. For the purpose of modification of missiles, freely available turbojet engines are supposed to be very helpful. These engines are said to be easily procured from the producers of civilian and military aircraft of Canada, Europe, Japan and the US. It is felt that "it is easier to change a cruise missile's range and payload to achieve performance enhancements. Variations in cruise missile flight profiles particularly taking advantage of flight at higher altitudes can lead to substantially longer ranges than those nominally given for low altitude flights. What's more, from a purely engineering standpoint, it is much easier to 'scale up' the range of an existing cruise missile than that of a ballistic missile."20 Low-altitude weapons are treated as more threatening. The increasing commercialisation of satellite navigation is also viewed with anxiety. There is the possibility that the MTCR will be amended and adapted to pay attention to the issue of cruise missile proliferation.

Also, there has been a perceptible change in terms of the geographical focus of the MTCR. In the starting years, the focal point of the MTCR was Latin American countries. Brazil and Argentina were emerging as missile powers. Both countries were near the US, though they had no animosity towards it. Their missile programmes were for different goals. Yet, the US saw them with apprehension. However, the special attention on Latin America does not mean that other regions like South Asia and the Middle East were totally ignored; they were in the low priority zones. Thereafter, the Middle East became the priority number one. South Asia and East Asia could not escape the MTCR surveillance. At present, Asia and the countries involved in the Asian affairs are the major targets of the MTCR. Within this target group the "footprint of world civilisation," to use Huntington's term to denote the countries of South Asia and the Middle East, occupies the most prominent position. Thus, with the passage of time, the regime has been changing its target. Now, it is being articulated that the MTCR would take a regional approach to solve the problem of proliferation of missiles instead of a nation-by-nation approach.21

There have been changes in the annex of the MTCR with innovation and development of missile technology. Many additions have been made in an item. This act has been conducted through various plenary and technical meetings. The need of the comprehensiveness of the MTCR guidelines and annex figured prominently in the third policy meeting held in Geneva in 1990.22 The necessity for expansion in turn had its origin in regularly updating technology at a rapid speed and dissemination of information in many unexpected quarters. In 1991, as a result of the recommendations made by the technical committees, definitions and further clarifications of technical parameters were incorporated.23 The words, terms, and names of technologies such as "micro-circuits," "radiation hardened," "specially designed," "designed or modified," "usable in," "capable of", etc. were explained for understanding the level, degree and extent of relevance of the concerned technology relating to missile proliferation. The amendment facilitated the coverage of all production instead of just serial production for the category "production equipment." Moreover, the phrase, "specifically designed," replaced the phrase "designed or modified" to give an effect to a wide array of dual-use items. In the same year, Items 17 and 18 also became parts of the annex and Item 19 was approved. Minor and major modification and amendments continued in the ensuing years. The present annexure has got many items which were not in the original list. The objective of the updating of the MTCR "Equipment and Technology Annex" is believed to be for improving the defining parameters for equipment to help industries in taking decisions.24

There is a progressive trend of the imposition of sanctions under Category II. Almost all sanctions imposed under the provisions of the MTCR are under Category II. The first incident in which Category I sanctions have been imposed is the one related to the cryogenic deal between India and Russia. In 1992, two organisations—the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) of India and Glavkosmos of Russia—were put under sanctions for two years. The most interesting aspect of this episode was that the Indian and Russian entities were put under sanctions for procuring a component. The engine is just a component. The Category I sanctions are supposed to be imposed for procuring the complete missile systems. Moreover, India and Russia both had given assurances that the cryogenic engine would be used exclusively for the peaceful rocketry purposes. This amounts to giving an end user certificate that allows relaxation under the provisions of the MTCR. It is a different matter that on a number of occasions,there have been instances of countries procuring complete missile systems and going unpunished under the Category I sanctions. The most glaring example is the one involving M-11 missile transactions between China and Pakistan. Despite getting documentation of the transactions of complete missile systems, the US never imposed sanctions under Category I. And whenever they were imposed, there was a perceptible leniency, in that the sanctions imposed were under Category II.

Importantly, sanctions imposed under the MTCR have been lifted even before the completion of the full term, but this phenomenon is applicable only to a select group of countries. To escape the sanctions, these countries had to take a pledge that they would follow the guidelines of the MTCR. Israel was forgiven because of its September 1991 assurance to adhere to the MTCR.25 Sanctions had been imposed on it for supplying ballistic missile parts to South Africa. In 1992, sanctions were lifted from South Africa and China. In the case of China, there were several rounds of negotiations between the American and the Chinese authorities. According to a letter released by a State Department official to Senator Jesse Helms, China had assured that it would abide by the MTCR guidelines while selling missiles to Syria, Pakistan and Iran.26 The then US Secretary of State, James Baker, also informed that China had promised to abide by the MTCR guidelines in November 1991 in lieu of lifting of sanctions imposed on it by the US in June of the same year.27 Finally, the sanctions were lifted on February 21, 1992, after the Foreign Minister of China, Qian Qichen, issued a letter in which he mentioned following of the "guidelines and parameters" agreed to during the November 1991 Beijing trip of James Baker.28 But China continued to supply missile and missile related components. In August 1993, because of the clinching evidence of the transfers of M-11 missiles, the US imposed sanctions on China and Pakistan. Again, sanctions got lifted from China after getting the same fake and false commitment to the MTCR.

In principle, the MTCR contains some provisions for relaxation for peaceful space programmes. However, such programmes of several countries have been affected because of the operation of strong presumption of denial. Although the provision of strong presumption of denial was there from the very beginning, the subsequent meetings and amendments have significantly strengthened its importance. This string is to be constantly attached while any decision to transfer missile related technology is to be taken. The MTCR has targetted many countries just on the presumption that the said components may help in building missiles in the prohibited category. Moreover, in 1994, the US Congress clarified that the country had never deviated from the path of treating the transfer of space launch and ballistic missile technology equally. It further noted that this policy would never be dumped. The inability to distinguish between space launch technology and missile technology and the inability to safeguard space launch vehicle technology were cited as the reasons behind the policy. It was pronounced that the concerned authority could not get appropriate time to halt diversion of technology transferred for peaceful space purposes to military purposes.29

This double standard is not new for the MTCR; it has been existing from the very beginning. Most of the founder or original members of the MTCR have been found transferring missile related technology. The Libyan plan to develop a missile with the range of 300-400 miles was helped by a German firm, Globe-Sat.30 The firm supplied rocket valve components which are required for missile guidance systems. Also, it was reported that Germany was finding it hard to break its old collaborations with Egypt, Iraq and Argentina. The US criticised that the provisions of the German export control policy had a very limited role to interfere in the German firm's exports.31 Even in 1994, it was reported that there were up to 62 German firms active in Libya, with 100 workers.32 Notwithstanding the US utterances, the American policy, too, had a high degree of inconsistency in dealing with the exports of its firms. The US also launched a campaign against the French transfer of rocket motor technology to Brazil.33 Many other European firms also supported the attempt by Arianespace to supply rocket motor technology.34 These European firms also offered to train the Brazilian engineers in the use on-board computers, guidance systems, and rocket launching techniques. At that time, Brazil was suspected of converting its space rockets and selling them to Iraq, Libya and Saudi Arabia. The technology offered and transferred by Arianespace was believed to be for developing intermediate range ballistic missiles after converting Sonda 4 space rocket.35 Italy, another founder member, was accused of supplying technology to the Condor II project in violation of the MTCR.36 The controversy surrounding the French supply of the Black Shahine version has already been discussed.

The clandestine transaction has been one of the features of the MTCR. All the violation of the MTCR is done secretly. However, the secrecy refers to the operation of both types of market—black and grey. All the business involving China can be placed in the grey zone, since there is nothing hidden from the state and government in the command economy that China has got. The limited autonomy is a farce. The deal involving the Western democratic countries is generally placed in the black market. Nevertheless it does not mean that the governments of these countries are totally unaware of the transactions. Frequently, owing to multiple reasons, these transactions are ignored.

In the final instance, the carrot and stick policy has failed to promote the objectives of the MTCR. China has been the principal proliferator of the missiles prohibited under the MTCR. Its association with the MTCR had little impact on its motivation and proclivity to sell the forbidden missiles. Before it became an adherent of the regime, Saudi Arabia—one of the biggest clients of American arms—procured intermediate-range ballistic missiles from China in February 1988. The deal enriched China by $2 billion. The MTCR member-countries led by the US failed to do anything even if the US and China in different contexts continued to acknowledge that 36 CSS-2 with an estimated range of 2,800-3,500 km had been transferred to Saudi Arabia. Even Saudi Arabia's Prince Bandar bin Sultan stated that the acquisition and the use of missiles by Iran and Iraq had led to a new missile environment in the Middle East in which the procurement of the CSS-2 missiles had become indispensable for Saudi Arabia.

However, Saudi Arabia was far from satisfied with this missile capability. For a long period, it tried to enhance the capability of the CSS-2. The work, in fact, began since 1991. It sought the expansion of the CSS-2 missile support facilities. Needless to mention, for many years, the CSS-2 has been the longest-range missile in the Middle East. In the last two years, the endeavour to acquire more sophisticated missiles has been stepped up. Once again, China has been preferred as a source of missile supply. At present, according to one report, there are 50-56 CSS-2s with a range of 3,100 km at Al-Sulayyil and Al-Leel.37

Saudi Arabia is not the only case in the Middle East. There are many countries which have got restricted missiles from China. Iran is an outstanding illustration. The US intelligence agencies brought to notice many a time that China had supplied missiles and related technology to the country several times in different phases. China transferred components and equipment for manufacturing and testing of ballistic missiles. It is believed that because of the Chinese assistance Iran could perform two engine tests for the Shahab-3 in 1997. This missile has a range of 950 miles. In August 1998, Iran confirmed the test of an intermediate range missile. In 1998, Iran reportedly had talks with China to procure telemetry equipment for missile testing.

There is an account of the Arab Press according to which China intends to manufacture missiles in Iran under a January 1990 10-year agreement on transfer of military technology. A Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) report frightened the US Congress when it informed that Iran had surged ahead quite fast in the realm of ballistic missiles. According to the report, the external aid made it possible for the country to cover the gap by ten years. Various Western and Israeli intelligence reports indicate that by 1999, Iran will have the missile which can reach some important parts of Israel. China is believed to have transferred 100 to 200 C-801 and C-802 anti-ship cruise missiles to China.38 Israel also gave some details regarding the transfers of SS-4 missiles with an expected range of 1,800 km, from Russia to Iran, though it was refuted by Russia later.

Generally, it is believed that Iran got battlefield missiles, cruise missiles along with nuclear related technology from China, whereas from North Korea it got long-range Scuds. As per the CIA estimate, Iran purchased approximately 100 Scud-Bs in 1987 from North Korea; it also got Scud-Cs from the same country. In May 1991, through mobile launchers, Iran test-fired some of its Scud-Cs purchased from North Korea. Iran has also tried for years to get the Nodong missile from North Korea. A few reports in 1997 described that Iran had finally got the Nodong missiles. One report mentioned about the transfer of the Nodong missile computer software, another noted that Iran had already manufactured 150 Nodong missiles with a range of 1,500 km and started working on missiles with a 3,000-km range and a payload capacity of 770-kg warhead. The intelligence report of Germany claimed that Iran was trying to work on the system derived from the North Korean ones and might extend it up to 5,000 km.

A CIA report accused North Korea of selling approximately 370 Scud missiles. Of these, the report noted that 100 Scud-Bs with a range of 300 miles were with Iran. Nevertheless, there were many such missiles that had been transferred to other Middle East countries like Syria, Libya and Iraq. According to this report, North Korea was found helping Syria, Libya and Iran in developing the range of already transferred missiles. For example, Syria received 150 extended range missiles from North Korea. Earlier, in March 1991, 24 Scud-C and 20 mobile launchers were provided to Syria by North Korea. However, for these countries, China has been a reliable supplier of missiles. Syria had purchased the M-9 from China in 1991. American intelligence reports conclude that China has got multi-billion dollars missile technology contracts from countries like Iraq, Libya and Syria. The task is to be accomplished in the coming years. Hansjoerg Geiger, the chief of the German Bundesnachrichttendienst, feared that by 2008, many Middle Eastern countries could reach Central Europe with missiles.

The case history of the Indian subcontinent is well known and has been repeated so many times in different literature. Various Chinese and Pakistani political authorities and officials have, from time to time, admitted the missile transactions between the two countries. Pakistan, at the moment, claims to possess Hatf-I with a range of about 80 km, Hatf-II with a range of about 300 km, Hatf-III with a range of more than 800 km and Ghauri or Hatf-V with a range of approximately 1,500 km. It has become a matter of common knowledge that Hatf-II is the M-11 missile of China and Hatf-III is the M-9. These missiles have been given Pakistani names and colour. Even the Ghauri is an alien missile. Its real origin is China, though it is possible that it might have been tranferred from somewhere else—North Korea or Saudi Arabia. There are reports that reveal the unveiling of certain missiles such as the Ghaznavi with a range of 1,800-2,000 km and the Shaheen series of missiles in the near future. Undoubtedly, even all these missiles would have been procured by Pakistan after violating the MTCR. The US and other MTCR enthusiasts failed to act properly even after they had got clinching evidence. China has been the main culprit or actor in all the episodes of proliferation in the Middle East and other Asian regions. North Korea, another important supplier of ballistic missiles has not only been provided with full-fledged missiles but has also been transferred vital technology to upgrade and modernise missiles by China. Ironically, the US has been supplying crucial missile technology to China. With the US supplied technology, China has been modernising its missiles and selling them abroad at a better price.


The eleven years of the MTCR's existence have witnessed various changes in it. The changes have been ongoing and there is no watershed period. Actually, from the very beginning it has been ad hoc and getting the thrust of its mobility from one country only. Although most of the changes have been brought about through the organs of the MTCR like the plenary committees and technical committees, the preferences and inclinations of the US have been the real determining factors in changing the trends and patterns of the MTCR. It is true that in certain years many important and drastic changes are effected, but no year goes by quietly for the MTCR development. The intensity of change is dependent on the dynamics of the international strategic situation. There is hardly any sector or aspect of the MTCR which has remained untouched over these years.

However, there are certain patterns and trends which are consistent and summarise all the trends discerned during the course of the discussion. These are the inconsistent and discriminatory nature of the MTCR. These characteristics are both the reason and byproduct of the type of politics pursued by the member countries. The regime has become an instrument of foreign policy. It helps member-nations to promote their national interests in all directions. Sanctions have multiple dimensions. The most important is the commercial angle. It is sometimes used as a retaliatory measure. For example, in 1992, sanctions were imposed on two entities of India and Russia for entering into a deal for the cryogenic engine. Both countries had officially stated that the engine would be used for the peaceful space development programme of India. Interestingly, later, it came to light that two Western companies—Arianespace and General Dynamic—had offered the same engine to India at a much higher price. Russia demanded only $200 million, whereas the Western firms had asked for $800 million. Naturally, India refused to buy the engine from the Western countries. The regime otherwise has failed completely. After the establishment of the MTCR, many countries have got ballistic missiles. Moreover, the range and other capabilities of these missiles are progressively improving. In the future, there could be a massive restructuring of the regime; otherwise the day is not far off when the regime will meet a sudden death.



1. Frederick J Hollinger, "The Missile Technology Control Regime: A Major New Arms Control Achievement", World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers 1987 (Washington: Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, 1988), p.25.

2. The Arms Control Reporter, November 1997, p. 706.B.239.

3. For a detailed discussion of all items, see The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Equipment and Technology Annex, July 1, 1993, (New Delhi: USIS, 1994).

4. Stuart McDonald, Technology and Tyranny of Export Controls: Whisper who Dares (Houndmills: The MacMillan Press Ltd., 1990)pp. 1-5.

5. The Arms Control Reporter, June 1991, pp. 706.B.55-706.B.64.

6. John B. Wolfsthal, "President Clinton Unveils New Non-proliferation Export Policies," Arms Control Today, November 1993, p. 22.

7. Andrew Lawler, "Gore to Mediate Missile Dispute," Space News, October 20, 1993, pp. 4, 21.

8. Ibid.

9. South Africa Embassy, May 26, 1992, Press Release

10. 'Al Hamishmar (Tel Aviv), October 3, 1991, pp.1,4 in Proliferation Issues, October 29, 1991, pp. 39-40.

11. Jane's Defence Weekly, October 12, 1991, p. 644.

12. Israel Television Network (Jerusalem), October 3, 1991 in Proliferation Issues, October 29, 1991, p. 40.

13. Export Control News, October 31, 1994, pp. 15-16.

14. The Arms Control Reporter, January 1997, p. 706.B.208-9.

15. Export Control News, July 31, 1994, pp. 18-19.

16. Erich H. Arnett, Technology Advance and the Arms Control Agenda (Washington DC: American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1990), p. 256.

17. For a detailed discussion, see Dennis M. Gormley, "On the Threat of Cruise Missile Proliferation," The Monitor, vol. 4, no. 2-3, Spring-Summer 1998, pp.50-52.

18. Dennis Gormley, "French Sale Cripples MTCR," Defense News, May 11-17, 1998.

19. Ibid.

20. n. 17, pp. 50-51.

21. The Arms Control Reporter, January 1997, p. 706.B.208.

22. "Fact Sheet", Arms Control Today, March 1992.

23. Missile Monitor, Spring 1992, pp. 10-11.

24. Jane's Defence Weekly, March 30, 1991, p. 47.

25. Washington Post, October 27, 1991.

26. Wall Street Journal, December 23, 1991.

27. Milavnews, December 1991, p. 2.

28. US Department of State, Office of the Assistant Secretary, Statement by Margaret Tutwiler, February 21, 1992.

29. The Arms Control Reporter, January 1994, pp. 706.B.157.

30. Sunday Correspondent, October 15, 1989, p.3 in Nuclear Developments, November 6, 1989, pp. 19-20.

31. Sunday Correspondent, October 8, 1989, p.1 in Nuclear Developments, October 26, 1989, pp. 43-44.

32. "Export Controls and the Libyan Arms Market," International Review, Fall 1994, p. 7.

33. New York Times, October 19, 1989.

34. New Republic, August 13, 1990, pp. 10-11.

35. Ibid

36. Financial Times, April 31, 1991.

37. Defense News, March 17, 1997.

38. Washington Times, January 21, 1998.