Tracking Number:  244384

Title:  "Official Notes Success of 1987 Missile Control Regime." According to an unnamed US official, the 22-nation Missile Technology Control Regime is a very successful tool in the effort to restrict the proliferation of missiles and related technology. (920924)

Translated Title:  Funcionario senala exito regimen control de misiles 1987. (920924)
Date:  19920924


(MTCR credited for reduced missile transfers) (880) By Berta Gomez USIA Staff Writer Washington -- The 22-nation Missile Technology Control Regime is a "very successful" tool in the effort to restrict the proliferation of missiles and related technology, a U.S. official said September 23.

The demise of Argentina's Condor II ballistic missile program was "directly attributable" to the MTCR, which severely limited that country's access to the necessary technology, the official told reporters during a background briefing at the U.S. Information Agency's Foreign Press Center in Washington. Missile programs elsewhere -- notably in India and Brazil -- have also encountered developmental problems that are linked to the effectiveness of the MTCR, the official added.

Another "testament to the effectiveness of the regime" is the fact that the only missile system now on the market is the Scud, which is "basically scaled-up WWII technology," the official said.

Established in 1987 by the G-7 group of industrialized nations, the regime was inspired -- at least in part -- by concerns over the "war of the cities" between Iraq and Iran, which were lobbing Scud missiles at one another's population centers. "It became clear," the official said, "that all efforts to control weapons of mass destruction needed to be augmented by controlling the means to deliver those weapons."

The official described the regime as having "two separate identities." On the one hand, it is an informal organization of countries that work together to control proliferation through export controls, intelligence-sharing and diplomatic cooperation. On the other, it sets an international standard of "responsible export behavior" in missile-related technologies.

Since 1987, the MTCR has grown from its original seven members to the following 22: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The official pointed out that several non-members, including Argentina, China, Israel, Romania and Russia, have also made a unilateral commitment to follow the guidelines set forth in the regime.

Basically, those guidelines restrict the transfer of missiles -- and technology relating to missiles -- capable of delivering a minimum 500 kilogram payload a distance of at least 300 kilometers. The guidelines apply to a lengthy list of technologies controlled by the MTCR, known as the Annex.

The official explained that MTCR countries are committed to carrying out a case-by-case review of all items on the Annex, before approving their sale or transfer to another country. The purpose of the review is to determine that the exported item will not be used in such a way as to contribute to missile proliferation. Since the MTCR is not a legal treaty, each member state implements the guidelines according to its own national laws.

Items on the Annex are divided into two broad categories. "Category I" items are the most sensitive and therefore subject to the strictest control. These include complete rocket systems and unmanned air vehicle systems as well as "complete subsystems" that are usable in the first group. For these items, said the official, "the presumption is that you will not export ... unless there are compelling reasons consistent with non-proliferation goals."

"Category II" comprises less sensitive "dual use" items that may or may not be destined for use in Category I systems. The presumption of denial is thus weaker and more narrowly defined.

The official noted that the MTCR has evolved since it was first conceived, by adapting to new concerns as they have arisen. Most recently, the Annex was modified to include systems and components capable of delivering chemical and biological weapons.

Washington has a unilateral policy of imposing sanctions on entities that engage in transfers that violate the MTCR guidelines. This past May, sanctions were imposed on the Russian entity Glavkosmos and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) after they refused to cancel a contract which involved the sale of Category I rocket technology to the Indian organization.

The official noted that the sanctions -- a two-year ban on U.S. export licenses, U.S. imports and U.S. government contracts -- were "solely a function of U.S. domestic law" and unrelated to the MTCR itself.

The United States imposed similar sanctions on entities in North Korea, Iran and Syria, after North Korea supplied Scud-type missiles to the other two countries. The official identified North Korea as "our biggest missile proliferation problem" because it is the only potential exporter of Category I missiles that does not currently abide by the MTCR guidelines.

On a more positive note, the United States is "encouraged" by China's stated commitment to observing the MTCR guidelines, the official said. The Chinese declaration, the official said, allayed "serious concerns" that China would sell missiles to countries in the Middle East and South Asia.

The official affirmed that the United States applies the MTCR guidelines to all the countries of Middle East, including Israel. "We do not permit exports that would go to Category I programs in Israel," the official told a questioner, adding that U.S. officials "look very carefully" at all the Annex items exported to Israel to ensure that non-proliferation goals are met.