Tracking Number:  271914

Title:  "23 Countries Move Further to Control Missile Exports." The Missile Technology Control Regime, a group of 23 countries including the US, has moved another step toward preventing proliferation of missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction. Corrected by NTD101. (930312)

Translated Title:  23 Paises tomas mas medidas control exportacion misiles. (930312)
Date:  19930312


(Difficult technical task begins) (590) By Bruce Odessey USIA Staff Writer Washington -- A group of 23 countries including the United States has moved another step toward preventing proliferation of missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction.

A press release issued after the March 8-11 meeting of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in Canberra, Australia, said the members "agreed to give further detailed consideration to future directions for the Regime."

What they discussed, a U.S. government official said, was the technical aspects of policy decisions already made about export controls on missiles and related technology.

From MTCR's beginning in 1987, the group aimed to restrict exports of missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. At a November 1991 meeting, it made a policy decision expanding the agreement to include missiles carrying chemical and biological weapons as well. At a July 1992 meeting, the group agreed to change the MTCR guidelines in line with the new policy.

Now comes the hard part, the U.S. government official said. At the March meeting the group moved to begin the difficult task of changing the MTCR Annex of controlled goods in line with policy, being careful to set technical standards that are not so weak that they fail to control weapons of mass destruction and not so strong that they interfere with legitimate trade.

Expected to be added to the annex are rockets and unmanned air vehicles and their major subsystems capable of carrying weapons weighing less than 500 kilograms and with a range of up to 300 kilometers.

MTCR already controls exports of missiles capable of carrying warheads weighing more than 500 kilograms and with a range of more than 300 kilometers.

Moreover, under the new MTCR guidelines, export of any missile, rocket or unmanned air vehicle would be subject to what is called "a strong presumption of denial" if the exporter suspects the intended payload is a weapon of mass destruction.

The U.S. official said he expected MTCR members would try to achieve consensus on changes to the annex by the time of their next meeting in Switzerland later this year.

The United States already has in place legislation and regulations controlling all such exports.

"Broadly speaking," the official said, "the MTCR is not moving contrary to the U.S. position."

James LeMunyon, formerly Commerce Department assistant secretary and now a private consultant, said the challenge facing MTCR is building members' confidence in each other.

What the U.S. government wants to know when it receives an application for a missile export, he said, is whether the other MTCR members would treat such an application in the same way -- accept it, reject it, or accept it with conditions.

"The biggest challenge is improving coordination," LeMunyon said. According to the press release, Iceland attended the Canberra meeting as MTCR's newest member. It said the group also welcomed the applications of Argentina and Hungary to become members.

The major non-MTCR suppliers of missiles are Israel, China, Russia and North Korea. The U.S. government official said Israel and China have made commitments to observe MTCR guidelines, with Israel even incorporating the changes in legislation.

He said Russia has made only weak, ambiguous statements about observing the guidelines. North Korea has given no intention of observing them, he said.

MTCR members are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.