(VOA Editorial)  (440)
(Following is an editorial, broadcast by the Voice of America January 14,
reflecting the views of the U.S. government.)

People around the world have long been aware of the dangers posed by the
spread of nuclear weapons, as well as the missiles that can deliver them.
Two years ago, it became clear during the Persian Gulf war that missiles
without nuclear warheads can also be a serious threat.  For several weeks
during that war, millions of people in Israel and Saudi Arabia lived in
constant fear of Iraqi Scud missile attacks.  The Iraqi missile attacks
killed a number of innocent civilians and caused significant destruction.
Had those missiles been armed with either chemical or biological weapons,
the death toll would have been devastating.

Following the Gulf War, the United States and other countries realized that
they needed to enlarge the scope of the Missile Technology Control Regime.
The Missile Technology Control Regime, or MTCR, was formed in 1987 by the
United States and six other countries to control the spread of missiles
capable of carrying nuclear weapons.  Today the MTCR includes 22 countries
and they recently revised the MTCR guidelines.  The guidelines have been
expanded to control the spread of missiles intended to carry all types of
weapons of mass destruction -- chemical and biological weapons as well as
the nuclear weapons that were the original focus of the MTCR.

As provided in the original guidelines, the United States and its MTCR
partners will continue to restrain the transfer of missiles capable of
carrying payloads of 500 kilograms a distance of at least 300 kilometers.
Under the revised guidelines, countries adhering to the MTCR will subject
to a strong presumption of denial the transfer of any missiles, regardless
of their payload and range, which are judged to be intended to carry any
weapon of mass destruction, not just nuclear weapons.

The United States welcomes the growing number of countries which are not
MTCR partners but which have pledged to adhere to the Missile Technology
Control Regime.  Two major countries which are not MTCR partners are Russia
and China.  Last year, China said it would adhere to the guidelines, and
the United States has urged China to indicate its support for the revised
guidelines.  Russia has said that its proliferation controls will be
consistent with the MTCR, but Russia has not agreed to adhere to the
guidelines.  The United States urges these and other countries to join the
effort to prevent the further spread of weapons of mass destruction and the
missiles that can carry them.