Missile Technology Control Regime

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According to its webpage, the Missile Technology Control Regime (MCTR) is an informal and voluntary association of countries which share the goals of non-proliferation of unmanned delivery systems capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and which seek to coordinate national export licensing efforts aimed at preventing their proliferation. The MTCR was originally established in 1987 by Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Since that time, the number of MTCR partners has increased to a total of thirty-four countries, all of which have equal standing within the Regime." [1]. Canada funds and operates the project; its current Chairman is Special Advisor to the Minister for Foreign Affairs Per Fischer of Denmark.

The MCTR complements other treaties and enforcement regimes for WMD payloads, such as:

by controlling the most threatening long-range delivery mechanisms for such payloads.

Technical scope

Two document sets define the Regime's scope. Its Guidelines create the overall framework. The Equipment, Software and Technology Annex identifies items and technologies needing control, divided into two categories by risk. [2]

The Guidelines specifically state that the Regime is

"not designed to impede national space programs or international cooperation in such programs as long as such programs could not contribute to delivery systems for weapons of mass destruction." MTCR partners are careful with [space launch vehicle] SLV equipment and technology transfers, however, since the technology used in an SLV is virtually identical to that used in a ballistic missile, which poses genuine potential for missile proliferation.

The MCTR recognizes that many of the things in the Annex are "dual-use", with both military and civilian applications. A purpose-built tactical missile is far easier to categorize than a rocket that could either be used for atmospheric research or to function as a guided missile. Dual-use decisions need to be made on a case-by-case basis.

Category I

Items of greatest concern include rockets or UAVs that can deliver a 500 KG or greater payload over a 300 KM or greater distance. These two parameters are intended to cover the weight of a first-generation nuclear weapon, delivered over a minimally strategic distance:[3]

  • complete rocket systems (including ballistic missiles, space launch vehicles and sounding rockets)
  • unmanned air vehicle (UAV) systems (including cruise missiles systems, target and reconnaissance drones)with the range/payload capability of concern;
  • production facilities for such systems
  • major sub-systems including rocket stages, re-entry vehicles, rocket engines, guidance systems and warhead mechanisms.

Category II

Of lesser, but real, concerns are rockets and UAVs that have range greater than 300 KM, but cannot carry a heavy payload. An assortment of other dual-use technologies are covered.


No specific means of verification are prescribed by the MCTR itself.


Most missiles available to non-signatory states are of the World War II V-2 technology exemplified by the Soviet-designed SCUD. The major nonsignatory exporter of missiles and technology is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea).

As of 2002, China, the DPRK, Egypt, Israel, Iran, India, Pakistan, and Syria were not covered. Libya was the one exception of a state, desiring missiles, that cooperated. [3]


  1. The Missile Technology Control Regime
  2. Missile Technology Control Regime (23 March 2007), Equipment, Software and Technology Annex
  3. 3.0 3.1 Smith, Mark (January 24-26, 2003), Bulletin 21 – Lessons from Control Regimes: Pros and Cons of the MTCR, and Efforts to Move Forward, International Network of Engineers and Scientists Against Proliferation