Public Statement from the Plenary Meeting of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Dublin, 20th October 2017

The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) held its 31st Plenary week in Dublin from 16th to 20th October 2017. The Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney, and the Icelandic Permanent Secretary of State, Mr. Sturla Sigurjónsson, jointly welcomed participants at the opening of the meeting. The Plenary was co-chaired by Ambassador Breifne O’Reilly, from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland, and Minister-Counsellor Bjarni Vestmann from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Iceland, who will remain the Co-Chairs of the MTCR until the next Plenary Meeting scheduled for 2018.

2017 marks 30 years since the MTCR was established in 1987. During its 30-year history, the MTCR extended its membership from 7 to 35 states and has proved to be an effective multilateral non-proliferation mechanism. The export controls of related items, information sharing, and patterns of cooperation that have been cultivated over the past 30 years have significantly reduced the availability to proliferators of the equipment, technology, and knowledge needed to develop, produce, and acquire Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) missile delivery systems, without hindering legitimate trade. In the years ahead, the Regime will continue to engage non-members in order to promote international efforts to limit the spread of missile systems capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction, as well as the technology and equipment needed to do so.

The main purpose of the Plenary Meeting was to review and evaluate the MTCR’s activities over the last 12 months and to intensify the efforts of Partners to prevent the proliferation of unmanned delivery systems capable of delivering WMD. In this regard Partners devoted increased attention to Intangible Technology Transfer (ITT), Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Catch All Controls, Regional Proliferation and strategic outreach to non-MTCR countries.

Partners recalled that the proliferation of WMD (nuclear, chemical and biological weapons) and their means of delivery remain a threat to international peace and security. They reiterated their commitment to limit the risks of proliferation by controlling international transfers that can contribute to delivery systems for WMD. They held a thorough exchange of information on missile proliferation developments since the last Plenary Meeting in Busan.

Partners welcomed the fact that the MTCR Guidelines and control lists in the Annex constitute an international best practices benchmark for controlling exports of missile-related items and technologies, and noted that these standards are adhered to by an increasing number of non-Partners and are included in some UN Security Council resolutions.

Partners called on all states to exercise extreme vigilance to prevent the transfer of goods and technology which could contribute to WMD missile programmes, in accordance with their national legislation and consistent with international law. They confirmed their commitment to inform and assist interested parties that are supportive of the MTCR’s objectives and purposes.

In the interests of regional and international security, Partners appealed to all states to support the non-proliferation aims of the Regime by observing its Guidelines and establishing appropriate national legislation and law enforcement mechanisms. From this perspective, partners emphasised that observance of the MTCR Guidelines by as many states as possible will contribute substantially to limiting the risks of proliferation of delivery systems for WMD and to fostering international security. Partners invited states to declare, on a voluntary basis, adherence to the MTCR Guidelines and formally notify the MTCR Point of Contact in writing of their political commitment to control all of the items on the MTCR Annex according to the MTCR Guidelines, including any subsequent changes to the Annex/Guidelines. Current MTCR adherents include Estonia and Latvia.

Partners underlined that the MTCR Guidelines are not designed to impede technological advancement and development, including space programmes, as long as such activities could not contribute to delivery systems for WMD.

Partners conducted extensive discussions on and expressed concern about global missile proliferation activities, in particular ongoing missile programmes in the Middle East, Northeast Asia, and South Asia, which might fuel missile proliferation activities elsewhere. Partners also encouraged relevant regional bodies and institutions to pay attention to the role of export controls in preventing the proliferation of missiles capable of carrying WMD.

Within the framework of the MTCR mandate, Partners confirmed their commitment to implement fully UN Security Council resolutions 1695, 1718, 1874, 2087, 2094, 2270, 2321, 2356, 2371 and 2375, having in mind the ballistic missile-related provisions of the resolutions, in particular resolution 2371. Bearing in mind the grave international situation due to DPRK missile development, partners reiterated their firm commitment to exercise extreme vigilance when controlling transfers that could contribute to the DPRK’s ballistic missile programme, in response to the drastic escalation of ballistic missile launches and significant missile technology development by the DPRK since February 2016. With regard to Iran, Partners noted the continuing process of implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) endorsed by UN Security Council resolution 2231. Partners confirmed their commitment to implement this resolution, having in mind the ballistic missile-related provisions in Annex B of this resolution. Partners agreed to continue exchanging views on missile programme developments.

Partners expressed particular appreciation for the outreach activities conducted by the outgoing MTCR Chairman Director General Ham Sang-wook of the Republic of Korea. The new MTCR Chairs were encouraged to follow up and conduct further outreach activities and contacts in order to increase transparency about the Regime, to promote its objectives and to maintain the momentum of dialogue with the visited countries. Partners also encouraged the continuation of individual, collective and regional efforts to assist non-Partner states and other interested parties in implementing missile-related export controls, and to inform the Chair about these activities.

Partners reaffirmed the critical importance of the MTCR’s on-going technical work. They underlined that the rapid technological development and changes in proliferant procurement practices related to sensitive items and technologies continue to require great awareness and effective actions to address these developments. They recognised that the Equipment, Software, and Technology Annex is a cornerstone of the work done by the MTCR to prevent missile proliferation and expressed deep appreciation for the accomplishments of the MTCR’s Technical Experts Meeting (TEM).

Partners also expressed their deep appreciation for the work of the MTCR’s Licensing and Enforcement Experts Meeting (LEEM), and the Information Exchange Meeting (IEM). In the IEM and LEEM, Partners continued discussions on a number of issues, including proliferation trends, procurement activities and strategies in support of programmes for WMD delivery means; serious risks and challenges posed by intangible technology transfers (ITT); key technology trends in missile programmes; catch-all controls for non-listed items; and brokering, transit and transhipment issues, and efforts to exploit them to evade export controls. These discussions showed that constant awareness; sharing of information, including best practices; and updating of MTCR countries’ export control systems and enforcement efforts are of great importance and have a significant impact on their work aimed at curbing proliferation of WMD means of delivery.

Partners exchanged views on issues relating to future membership. Individual applications for membership were thoroughly discussed. The membership issue will continue to be on the agenda.

Partners reviewed a number of issues relating to the internal operation of the MTCR, including the continuity and effectiveness of its Chairmanship.

Partners thanked France for successfully organising a Reinforced Point of Contact meeting in Paris and for acting as the Regime’s Point of Contact.

Partners noted the address by the Chair of the Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation, Ambassador Marek Szczygieł.

The MTCR has 35 members: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.