Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States
Appendix III: Unclassified Working Papers
System Planning Corporation: "Non-Proliferation Issues"
There is a broad array of literature that describes British foreign and
defense policy, arms export policies, British participation in
international fora, and its defense capabilities. For the purpose of this
review, System Planning Corporation consulted periodicals, government
documents, public statements, and Internet sources. None of the sources
assessed British defense capabilities explicitly in terms of United States'
national security. Quite the contrary, British capabilities are more often
linked to the United States through cooperative endeavors, research and
development projects, and information sharing.
Similarly, the literature that addresses British space programs, in
particular its European Space Agency membership and its non-ESA projects,
is descriptive in nature. The sources come primarily from ESA press
releases and scientific journals. No correlation is made between British
space capabilities and potential threat to the United States.
There is very limited information on British export controls. Although a
number of articles address Britain's general nonproliferation policies,
they do not outline the structure of the nation's export control system,
and the initiatives that the British government has taken to control
British exports A September 1994 report by the American Bar Association
Task Force on Weapons of Mass Destruction entitled, Beyond CoCom--A
Comparative Study of Export Controls: Germany, United Kingdom, France,
Italy, and Japan and the European Union Export Control Regulation, offers a
comprehensive assessment of Britain's export control system, however. This
work describes Britain's export control structure and the legal framework
of its national export controls.
British Defense Industry: Domestic Structure, Arms Exports, and European
Great Britain possesses one of the largest and most technologically
advanced militaries in the world. In 1996, the U.S. Arms Control and
Disarmament Agency estimated that Britain allocated over
$33 billion to defense activities, making Britain the seventh largest
defense spender in the world. 1
As a result of its long-standing commitment to national defense, Britain
has developed the capability to produce indigenously virtually any kind of
armament. This ability has made Britain
one of the world leaders in the aerospace sector. British Aerospace has
established itself as one of the world's premier aerospace companies. It
produces state-of-the-art military and civil aircraft, guided weapons
systems, guns and ammunition, plus other high technology products and
systems. In 1997, BAE had annual sales of nearly $12 billion. Exports to
customers in 72 nations accounted for 87 percent of sales. 2
International Cooperation: Defense Consolidation and Arms Sales
Since the end of the Cold War, Britain's military expenditures and domestic
procurement levels have fallen like those of all the other nations of
Western Europe. Declining defense budgets have prompted Britain to decrease
force structures, reduce modernization pursuits, and to reduce domestic
procurement. Throughout the first half of the 1990s, defense spending in
Great Britain dropped between three and four percent per year in nominal
terms. 3 Decreased defense spending has forced all three branches of the
British Armed Services to reduce manpower levels. Procurement and weapons
modernization plans have also been cut back. 4
In an attempt to soften the effects of decreased defense spending on
domestic industry, the government has encouraged Britain's defense
conglomerates to consolidate their operations with their British and
European counterparts. In December 1997, French President Jacques Chirac,
German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair
announced in a joint press statement that their respective countries would
participate in European initiatives to consolidate defense operations. By
supporting consolidation, the British, French and German governments hope
to position European firms to compete with the U.S.'s large defense
conglomerates in the world market, particularly, Lockheed Martin and
British Arms Sales
Since the end of the Cold War, the British government has also encouraged
Britain's defense conglomerates to look to international markets to make up
for lost revenue in the domestic market. In 1995, Great Britain was the
second largest exporter of armaments in the world. Its $5.2 billion in
sales accounted for 54 percent of Western European sales and 16 percent of
world sales. Reduced domestic procurement activities has spurred export
initiatives in the Middle East and East Asia. Between 1993-1995, the UK
exported $11.4 billion (77%) of its arms to the Middle East, with 90
percent of this figure going to Saudi Arabia. East Asia was the UK's second
largest recipient in the region with nearly $1.7 billion in purchases (11%
of total). In this period, Britain also exported $1.2 billion worth of
armaments to North America, all of which went to the United States. 5
Britain has exported a wide range of military equipment abroad, including
aerospace hardware and technology. Although there is nothing in the
literature suggesting that Britain has exported ballistic missiles or its
related technology to nations of proliferation concern, Britain has
exported shorter range anti-ship and air-to-air missiles to Middle Eastern
nations like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE.
Based on Britain's future defense outlook, which calls for further
declining procurement budgets, the nation will almost certainly continue to
look to the international arena as a market for its armaments. If Britain
remains one of the world's principal suppliers of weapons, the possibility
exists that hostile nations may gain access to British ballistic missiles
and aerospace technology that may one day affect U.S. national security.
British Ballistic and Aerodynamic Missile Capabilities
The following sections offer a brief description of Britain's ballistic and
aerodynamic missile capabilities, as well as specific missile systems that
the British are currently developing.
Polaris A-3 and A-3TK
In the 1960s, the United Kingdom began development of the A-3 Polaris
missile, an intermediate range, solid fueled, MIRV capable SLBM. The
missile was deployed in the 1960s, and has served as the cornerstone of
Britain's strategic nuclear deterrent ever since.
The original A-3 design is a two-stage solid fueled MIRV system with three
200 kT nuclear re-entry vehicles. It has a range of 4630 km, and a CEP of
900 meters. The TK version of this missile, code named "Chevaline," is an
upgrade of the A-3 design and is based on the U.S. penetration aided system
"Antelope". It comprises a Penetration Aid Carrier (PAC), the British
version of a warhead dispensing system, capable of maneuvering in space and
fitted with guidance sensors and a computer-controlled stable platform.
Although the "Chevaline" system is not a MIRV system, the re-entry vehicle
can be maneuvered. Testing of this system began in September 1977.
Submarine launches took place on the Eastern
test range off the coast of Florida. The upgrade, testing, and
operationalization of both the A-3 and A-3TK was completed in 1986.
Trident II D-5
The Trident D-5 missile was first deployed on U.S. Ohio Class nuclear
submarines in 1989. It is a three-stage solid fuel, MIRV capable, SLBM with
a stellar-aided guidance system. The missile has a range of 12,000 km, and
a CEP of 90 meters. In 1980, the United States agreed to sell the UK an
unspecified number of Trident D-5s.
The U.K.'s D-5 Trident missiles are identical to those used by the United
States, except for their warhead configurations. The missiles use the US
designed MIRV bus with U.S. Mk 4 RVs but with UK-built warheads. These
warheads are smaller than the U.S. W-76, and have a yield of approximately
100 kT. The U.K. does not outfit the Trident D-5 to full capacity. It
appears that the U.K. outfits six warheads per missile, although it could
load eight warheads per missile if it chose to do so.
According to the Military Balance 1997/98, the U.K. currently has 48 active
Trident D-5 ballistic missiles aboard 3 Vanguard SSBN's. Although the
majority of these missiles have six warheads each, some D-5 are loaded with
single warheads for sub-strategic roles.
The literature suggests that Britain is developing an aerodynamic
air-to-surface missile that could pose a threat to the United States if
launched from air-borne or sea-borne platforms owned by hostile nations.
Sea Eagle/Golden Eagle
The Sea Eagle, originally known as P3T, was designed by British Aerospace
to replace the Anglo-French Martel standoff air-to-surface missile.
Development of the Sea Eagle began in 1979, and production in 1982. The
missile is designed for carriage on Buccaneer and Sea Harrier aircraft. The
missile may also be carried by Tornado GR, MK 1, Tornado GR, MK 4 and
Jaguar. The Sea Eagle entered service in 1985.
The Sea Eagle has a similar airframe to the Martel, but has an underbody
air inlet for its turbofan jet engine. The missile has an inertial and
active radar guidance system, and can carry a 230 kg semi-armor piercing HE
warhead to a range of approximately
According to Jane's Air Launched Weapons, Hughes and British Aerospace may
have started development of the Sea Eagle's successor, a program known as
the Golden Eagle. The two companies have examined an IIR terminal seeker
option with a digital data link. Jane's reports that this missile could
have a range of more than 200 km. 6
British Space Programs
Great Britain's space programs are handled by its Department of Trade and
Industry. The UK participates in space missions, research, and information
gathering through the European Space Agency (ESA), and retains a modest
domestic program of space research through universities, research
institutes, and private industry. In July 1988, the government announced
that Great Britain's space initiatives would focus on the development of
earth observation activities, with particular emphasis on developing
advanced telecommunications and remote sensing capabilities.
Although British funding accounts for only five percent of ESA's total
budget, Britain participates in multiple international space efforts within
the ESA and with non-ESA members. While Britain possesses an independent
space launch capability through its Skylark SLV, it continues to maintain
interest in the Ariane 5 launcher. Ferranti provides the guidance system's
gyro units, and British Aerospace the Spelda payload units. In addition,
Britain has been a partner of the United States since the 1960s in national
security programs related to earth observation and surveillance activities.
Moreover, Britain is jointly developing the Hotol in conjunction with
Russia and the Ukraine.
Skylark has served as Britain's space launch vehicle for over forty years.
The launcher is available in three different variants, the 5, 7 and 12
versions. Development of the Skylark 17 model began in the late 1980s. In
addition, other motor variants are available on request from British
Aerospace Space Systems Ltd., the Skylark's principal contractor.
Skylark 5, with its single-stage solid-fueled propulsion system, is the
smallest in the family. It has the capability to deliver a 250 kg payload
to 200 km. Skylark 7 has two solid stages, and can place a 100 kg payload
to 460 km, a 300 kg to 270 km, and 400 kg to 210 km from vertical launch.
Skylark 12 is essentially a Skylark 7 with a solid-fueled third stage. It
can lift 100 kg to 1030 km and 200 kg to 575 km.
Britain's International Arms Control Commitments
Britain belongs to virtually every international organization that seeks to
halt the spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction and related technologies. In
particular, the United Kingdom signed the Non-proliferation Treaty (1970),
is a member of the Zangger Committee; the Nuclear Suppliers Group; and the
Australia Group. Great Britain was also instrumental in the establishment
of the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Control for Conventional Arms and
Dual-Use Goods in 1997. Furthermore, Britain has been one of the Missile
Technology Control Regime's strongest supporters. Despite Britain's
commitment to arms control, British technology has been transferred to
nations of proliferation concern in the past. The most notable example is
the Matrix Churchill scandal.
The Matrix Churchill Scandal
Matrix Churchill was a Midlands based machine tool manufacturer which was
purchased in 1987 by an Iraqi-controlled company, TMG Engineering. This
company, in turn, was controlled by a larger Iraqi company, Technology and
Development Group Ltd.
In the late 1980s, two contracts were placed with Matrix Churchill. The
first contract was placed by Industrias Cardoen of Chile to supply Iraq
with machine tools to manufacture fuses for shells.
The second contract was placed directly with Iraq's NASSR Establishment for
Mechanical Industries for a project code named "ABA". Under the terms of
the agreement, Matrix Churchill agreed to provide the NASSR with machine
tools to construct multi-launcher rocket systems. The British Government
granted export licenses for both of these contracts on the basis that the
materials were for civil use, as the applications had specified.
In the spring of 1990, West German intelligence informed the British
government that Matrix Churchill machine tools were being illicitly
diverted to Iraqi military programs. Soon after learning of these reported
breaches of British export control regulations, Britain's Department of
Trade and Industry, and British Customs began their investigations of
Matrix Churchill .
Inquiries at Matrix Churchill in June 1990 indicated that export breaches
in relation to the Cardoen exports had occurred, and that British equipment
was being diverted to Iraq's military programs. Investigations also
revealed that Matrix Churchill machine tools had been diverted to an Iraqi
rocket launcher program through NASSR, and that the export violated
existing export control regulations.
The Matrix Churchill case ultimately led to modifications in Britain's
export control guidelines. In 1990 and 1994, Britain enacted several legal
statutes to improve Britain's export control system, and to ensure that all
British exports are used responsibly. The literature suggests that Britain
now has one of the most effective export control systems in the world.
Export Controls: Statutory Requirements
The U.K. relies on several laws and regulations to outline the structure of
Britain's export control system. The legal basis for the U.K.'s export
control system is the Import, Export and Customs Powers (Defense) Act of
1939, as amended by the Import and Export Act of 1990. Under these Acts,
the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has the authority to regulate
Great Britain's export control system. DTI imposes specific export control
guidelines under the 1994 Export of Goods (Control) Order (EGCO). In
addition, the U.K.'s export controls are enforced under the 1979 Customs
and Excise Management Act. 7
UK Export Control Office (EC) and The Customs Office
The Department of Trade and Industry, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
and the Ministry of Defense are all involved in Britain's export control
process. Within the Department of Trade and Industry, the UK Export Control
Office manages export licensing efforts and monitors the exports and the
transfer of dual-use good and technologies. The ECO coordinates with the
other government agencies to update control lists for end-use and
end-users. The centralization of the licensing, implementation, and
monitoring activities illustrates the British government's commitment to
control the spread of WMD and their delivery systems. Government oversight
and cooperation with private industry have been integral parts of Britain's
non-proliferation policies. 8
The Customs Office is responsible for control at the national borders and
the detainment of suspect articles (unlicensed or otherwise). Under this
authority, the Customs Office is responsible for investigating and levying
punishments for export licensing violations. Unlike other European nations,
the Customs Office does not need proof of intent when an export control
violation has occurred. Moreover, if a non-licensed controlled item is
destined for a country on the control list, additional proof is required to
determine that the exporter did not intend to subvert the export control
Recently, the British government has installed a hot line and a
computerized information sharing system for use the Customs Office and the
ECO to facilitate information sharing. Moreover, the government has
stressed the need for inter-agency communications to address export control
Export Control Structure
Schedule 1 of the 1994 EGCO lists the types of goods and the countries to
which British export controls apply. Sections II and III of Schedule 1
clearly outline Britain's nonproliferation controls. Part II outlines the
"catch-all" or "end-use" provisions for goods and technologies that may be
used to produce WMD and their delivery systems. Part III outlines Britain's
Part III of Schedule 1 of the 1994 EGCO is divided into three groups. The
first group covers military or paramilitary equipment, firearms and
software-related technologies. Group two covers atomic energy minerals and
materials as well as nuclear facilities, equipment, and technology. Group
three covers all dual-use industrial materials and technologies that can be
used in WMD applications. In general, Schedule 1 follows the listing system
the former CoCom, and incorporates the control lists of the NSG, AG and
MTCR. It does not appear, however, that intangible technologies that may be
used in WMD applications are covered by EGCO controls.
In addition to the EGCO's commodity based control lists, the ECO
continuously updates a list of sensitive destinations for which license
applications are subject to special procedures. Although exports of
controlled goods and technologies are not prohibited to sensitive
destinations, the ECO considers license applications for such destinations
on a case by case basis. ECO will not, however, issue a license without
consulting other government agencies if the importing nation is of
The United Kingdom has adopted "catch-all" provisions in its export control
system. These controls have been implemented for three reasons: to outline
the goods and technologies that may be used to develop WMD; to describe the
activities relating to the production of WMD; and to prohibit the export of
such goods and technologies to any destination where the exporter knows or
suspects that the goods will be used to produce WMD and their delivery
systems. If an exporter has any reason to believe that any export may be
covered under catch-all provisions, the exporter is advised to contact the
Inquiry Unit of the ECO to determine if an export license is required.
Export Controls and Private Industry
The British government has maintained a close connection to its national
defense conglomerates despite consolidation and privatization. The DTI has
drawn up an "Export Control Code of Practice" to increase awareness of UK
export controls among exporters. The code consists of eight elements:
commitment to compliance, identification of responsible personnel,
information and training, internal compliance procedures, awareness of
suspicious inquiries or orders, record keeping, internal audits, and
integration with quality management practices. Although this code is not
legally binding, when assessing license applications, DTI will evaluate the
extent to which an exporter has complied with the code and incorporated its
Increased communications between industry and government officials are
evident by the increasing volume and public availability of export control
orders, publications, and notices. The government has established a
corporate export control compliance program complete with training seminars
by the ECO and on-site evaluations. 11
The Effectiveness of British Export Controls
The literature suggests that Great Britain has established one of the most
effective export control systems in the world, and that it is highly
unlikely that a scandal such as the Matrix Churchill incident will occur in
the future. The steps that Great Britain has taken since the Matrix
Churchill scandal clearly reaffirm the government's commitment to ensure
the responsible use of British exports. Nothing in the literature suggests
that British companies have exploited loopholes in the existing export
control structure to aid a nation of proliferation concern acquire WMD
material or technology.
Along the same lines, there is nothing in the literature which suggests
that nations like Iran and Iraq (which have reportedly set up clandestine
procurement networks in Western European nations like Germany and France)
have attempted to acquire dual-use material and technology from British
companies. The literature suggests that this is largely due to the
initiatives of the British government to strengthen its export control
system after the Matrix-Churchill scandal.
Following the Matrix-Churchill scandal, Britain established comprehensive
guidelines for the export of dual-use material in the 1994 Export of Goods
(Control) Order (EGCO). This order specifically lists the goods and
technologies, the destinations with respect to certain goods, and the
circumstances under which U.K. export controls apply. In addition to
outlining the "catch-all" or "end-use" provisions for goods and
technologies that may be used in WMD applications, it also subjects
exporters to strict licensing regulations.
1. See U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, World Military
Expenditures and Arms Transfers, 1996, Washington D.C..
2. For more information, see British Aerospace's homepage at
3. U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, World Military Expenditures
and Arms Transfers 1996, Washington D.C., p.2
4. OTA, Global Arms Trade: Commerce in Advanced Military Technology and
Weapon, p. 67.
5. ACDA, World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers, 1996, p. 22.
6. See Duncan Lennox, ed. Jane's Air Launched Weapons, October 1995,
7. See ABA Task Force on Nonproliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction,
"Beyond CoCom- A Comparative Study of Export Controls: Germany, United
Kingdom, France, Italy, and Japan and the European Union Export Control
Regulation," September 1994. The Section on the United Kingdom offers a
detailed description of the structure of Britain's export control system.
8. Ibid., p. 45.
9. Ibid., p. 52.
10. Ibid., p.51.
11. Ibid., p.51.