Title: "MTCR and the Challenge of Controlling Missile Proliferation." The first article of a series on the Missile Technology Control Regime, dealing with the new international
post-Cold War concern of missile proliferation, the factors involved in missile proliferation, a categorization of missiles, and the effort to slow missile proliferation. (920421)
Translated Title: El desafio de controlar la proliferacion de misiles. (920421)
Author: MORSE, JANE A (USIA STAFF WRITER)
(Spanish coming) MTCR AND THE CHALLENGE OF CONTROLLING MISSILE PROLIFERATION (First of series on Missile Technology Control Regime) (920) By Jane A. Morse USIA Staff Writer The Forces Behind Missile Proliferation: The end of the Cold War may have eased fears of a military clash between superpowers, but a new concern is gaining increased international attention -- missile proliferation.
Today, over 20 countries have, are suspected of having, or are developing nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons and the means to deliver them.
There are several reasons for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. First and foremost, the technologies used in these weapons and their delivery systems are simply more available and more easily absorbed by Third World countries than ever before. Most of these technologies are "dual use" technologies; that is, they have legitimate civilian applications, which makes it difficult to restrict their trade.
Another important factor in missile proliferation is that the illicit sale of technologies for weapons of mass destruction can be very lucrative, especially in the wake of arms control and disarmament activities that have dried up many previous sources for these technologies.
And the element of national pride cannot be overlooked -- missile forces are the stuff of military parades and expositions. As long as some countries continue to acquire weapons of mass destruction, their neighbors will feel compelled to develop comparable capabilities for their own security and to preserve their status in the "weapons club."
What Missiles Are and Their Destabilizing Effect: Ballistic and cruise are the two main types of surface-to-surface missiles. A ballistic missile is an unmanned weapon powered by a rocket during its initial launch stages, but not during the descent. A long-range ballistic missile actually flies outside the atmosphere at the uppermost part of its curved trajectory.
A cruise missile is an unmanned aircraft which depends during most of its flight on an air-breathing engine similar to that used in an airplane, although it may use a booster rocket during launch. Also known as a "guided missile," a cruise missile has a variable aerodynamic flight characteristic. Ballistic missiles, on the other hand, have a fixed ballistic (curved) trajectory.
Missiles are very effective in penetrating even sophisticated air defenses. They can be outfitted with conventional, nuclear, chemical or biological warheads. Their high speed and ability to be fired at night add to their military value. Unlike a manned aircraft, however, once a missile is launched, it cannot be called back.
Because the technology is currently more readily available, ballistic missiles tend to be the missile of choice for Third World countries, although cruise missile technology is expected to become more easily available within the next decade.
Ballistic missiles are easier and cheaper to operate and maintain than manned fighter/bomber aircraft. Most of the existing ballistic missiles in the Third World, however, are of an older type with guidance systems insufficiently accurate to hit with any precision point military targets. As a result, they are more likely to be used as a terror weapon on urban concentrations. Not surprisingly, countries seeking to develop nuclear weapons almost always have parallel ballistic missile development programs.
Taking their advantages and disadvantages together, ballistic missiles are considered by many security experts to be especially destabilizing. In areas of the world where mistrust and tension have already reached dangerous levels, the pressure to pre-empt attack is extremely high -- a situation that is only exacerbated by ballistic missiles. In addition, missile proliferation is creating a global arms race that threatens to become at least as dangerous as the superpower rivalry was during the Cold War.
The Effort to Slow Down Missile Proliferation: In the early 1980s, the growing international trade in missiles led policy-makers in a number of countries to begin to develop multilateral mechanisms for controlling proliferation. Even before then, the U.S. government began to reexamine the adequacy of existing U.S. export control mechanisms.
The U.S. Arms Export Control Act has long restricted the direct export of complete missiles, missile components, and identifiable missile technology. But missile components are similar to the components of civilian space rockets. Research sponsored by the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency in the late 1970s established that U.S. technology applicable to missile production could be purchased ostensibly for civilian purposes through normal civilian export licensing procedures. This prompted the Reagan administration to undertake a missile technology control initiative. The objective was to restrict the application of U.S. technology for the development of weapons of mass destruction without inhibiting cooperation in the field of space.
In 1987, the United States and six other concerned countries created the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) to restrict the proliferation of missiles and related technology. The original participants in the Regime were Canada, West Germany, France, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Since that time, the membership list has grown to 20 countries. A number of countries, such as the People's Republic of China, are not members but have agreed to adhere to the Regime's guidelines.
The MTCR attempts to control the development of missiles or unmanned air vehicles or delivery systems capable of carrying a payload of 500 kilograms or more for a distance of 300 kilometers or more.
The MTCR is not a treaty. It is an arrangement for coordinating national export control. Yet it has had impressive success in slowing proliferation.
NEXT: What MTCR is; how it is implemented; its performance record to date. NNNN