MTCR: Civil Services Mentor Magazine: July - 2016


After facing the disappointmet at the Nuclear security council, India has received a great strategic benefit in the Missile Technology Control regime. The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) is an informal political understanding among states that seek to limit the proliferation of missiles and missile technology. The Missile Technology Control Regime was formed in 1987 by the G-7 industrialized countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the United States). There are now 35 members in the regime with India being the latest one joining in 2016. India's inclusion would help country in many ways like in buying high end missile technologies from other countries and in buy Surveillance drones from the other promising parties : India is very keen to use. The MTCR was initiated by like-minded countries to address the increasing proliferation of nuclear weapons by addressing the most destabilizing delivery system for such weapons. In 1992, the MTCR’s original focus on missiles for nuclear weapons delivery was extended to a focus on the proliferation of missiles for the delivery of all types of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), i.e., nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Such proliferation has been identified as a threat to international peace and security.

As with all MTCR decisions, the decision to admit a new partner is taken by consensus. In making membership decisions, partners tend to consider whether a prospective new member would strengthen international non proliferation efforts, demonstrates a sustained and sustainable commitment to non proliferation, has a legally based effective export control system that puts into effect the MTCR Guidelines and procedures, and administers and enforces such controls effectively. The group does not have an observer category. MTCR partners hold an annual Plenary Meeting chaired on a rotational basis. The Plenary host becomes the Chair of the MTCR for the period extending to the next Plenary. The MTCR has no secretariat. Distribution of the Regime’s working papers is carried out through a Point of Contact (POC), the functions of which are performed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France.

The aim of the MTCR is to restrict the proliferation in the following:

  • missiles;
  • complete rocket systems;
  • unmanned air vehicles;
  • and related technology for those systems capable of carrying a 500 kilogram payload at least 300 kilometres;
  • as well as systems intended for the delivery of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

The Regime’s controls are applicable to certain complete rocket systems (to include ballistic missiles, space launch vehicles (SLVs), and sounding rockets) and unmanned air vehicle (UAV) systems (to include cruise missiles, drones, UAVs, and remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs)). The MTCR does not take export licensing decisions as a group. Rather, individual partners are responsible for implementing the Guidelines and Annex on the basis of sovereign national discretion and in accordance with national legislation and practice. A country can choose to adhere to the MTCR Guidelines without being obligated to join the group, and a number have done so. MTCR Partners welcome opportunities to conduct broader dialogue on proliferation issues with such countries.

While there is no formal linkage, the activities of the MTCR are consistent with the UN’s non-proliferation and export control efforts. The MTCR is not a treaty and does not impose any legally binding obligations on Partners (members). Rather, it is an informal political understanding among states that seek to limit the proliferation of missiles and missile technology. The MTCR seeks to limit the risks of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by controlling exports of goods and technologies that could make a contribution to delivery systems (other than manned aircraft) for such weapons. In this context, the Regime places particular focus on rockets and unmanned aerial vehicles capable of delivering a payload of at least 500 kg to a range of at least 300 km and on equipment, software, and technology for such systems.

The MTCR Annex is the Regime’s list of controlled items including virtually all key equipment, materials, software, and technology needed for missile development, production, and operation – that are controlled by MTCR Partners and adherents. The Annex is divided into two parts: Category I and Category II items. In 2003, MTCR Partners amended the Guidelines to require all Partners to have catch-all export controls. These controls form the basis for controlling the export of items not included on a control list when they may be intended for use in connection with delivery systems for WMD other than manned aircraft. Additionally, consistent with the Guidelines, Partners are to exercise particular restraint in consideration of any items on the Annex or of any missiles (whether or not on the Annex) if the exporting government judges that they are intended to be used for WMD delivery – and such exports are to be subject to a strong presumption of denial.

Category I items include complete rocket and unmanned aerial vehicle systems (including ballistic missiles, space launch vehicles, sounding rockets, cruise missiles, target drones, and reconnaissance drones), capable of delivering a payload of at least 500 kg to a range of at least 300 km, their major complete subsystems (such as rocket stages, engines, guidance sets, and re-entry vehicles), and related software and technology, as well as specially designed production facilities for these items. Category II items include other less-sensitive and dual-use missile related components, as well as other complete missile systems capable of a range of at least 300 km, regardless of payload. Their export is subject to licensing requirements taking into consideration the non-proliferation factors specified in the MTCR Guidelines. Exports judged by the exporting country to be intended for use in WMD delivery are to be subjected to a strong presumption of denial.

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