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 You are in: Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security > Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN) > Releases > Other Releases > 2003-2005

Nonproliferation of Missiles

Bureau of Nonproliferation
Washington, DC
January 14, 2004

The United States is dedicated to preventing the proliferation of missiles and missile technology, particularly to those who would use them to deliver weapons of mass destruction. The President’s December 2002 National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction outlines the primary tools to achieve this goal: active nonproliferation diplomacy, multilateral regimes, export controls, and sanctions. The U.S. has made important gains in each area. The responsible State Department office is the Bureau of Nonproliferation’s Office of Chemical, Biological and Missile Nonproliferation.

Active Nonproliferation Diplomacy

The U.S. is working with friends and allies to dissuade potential supplier states from cooperating with proliferant missile programs, and also to induce proliferant states to end their weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and missile programs. The U.S. will hold countries responsible for adhering to their commitments, and build coalitions to support its efforts.

  • The U.S. routinely cooperates with other governments in identifying and stopping shipments of equipment, materials, and technology destined for missile programs. There have been many such successful interdictions, including some in 2003.
  • Further such cooperation will result from the President’s Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI).
  • As a result of U.S.-UK diplomacy, Libya announced in December 2003 that it was giving up MTCR-class (see below) ballistic missiles.

Multilateral Regimes

To counter the WMD and missile threat, the United States continues to work to improve the effectiveness of existing nonproliferation regimes such as the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and the International Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (ICOC).

The MTCR is a voluntary association of countries that seek to coordinate national export control licensing efforts and policies aimed at preventing the proliferation of delivery systems for WMD. MTCR Partners commit to apply the regime’s common export control policy (MTCR Guidelines) to its list of controlled items (MTCR Annex) according to their own national export control legislation. Greatest restraint is applied to what are known as Category I systems. These items include complete rocket systems capable of carrying at least a 500 kg payload to a range of at least 300 km (known as “MTCR-class” or “Category I” missiles), and their complete subsystems and production facilities. The MTCR Annex also includes other key items of equipment and technology needed for the development, production, and operation of missiles.

  • In 2002, the MTCR Partners amended the MTCR Guidelines to make terrorism a specific focus of the regime.
  • In 2003, the MTCR Partners made it a requirement for all members to have “catch-all” export controls. These controls provide a legal basis to control the export of items not included on a control list when they are destined for a missile program. The Partners also agreed to subject MTCR-controlled intangible technology transfers to export controls in accordance with national legislation.
  • In 2003, the MTCR Partners also adopted controls for Unmanned Air Vehicles designed or modified for aerosol delivery.

The ICOC (also known as the HCOC -- Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation) was brought into effect in 2002. It supplements the MTCR’s nonproliferation efforts by providing a set of general principles, modest commitments, and limited confidence-building measures to help curb the spread of ballistic missiles and delegitimize missile proliferation. The administration of the ICOC is the responsibility of the Subscribing States (111 as of January 1, 2004).

  • The ICOC Launching Conference of November 26, 2002 was followed in June 2003 by an ad-hoc technical meeting of the Subscribing States in Vienna. At this session, Subscribing States discussed issues related to the Code’s implementation, including pre-launch notifications and annual reports of missile policies and launches.
  • At the ICOC’s Second Annual Meeting during October 1-3, 2003, in New York, Subscribing States continued to discuss implementation issues as well as outreach and universalization.

Export Controls

The United States seeks to update and strengthen its own export control system in order to inhibit the export of sensitive materials to countries of concern, proliferators, and terrorists while also removing unnecessary barriers in the global marketplace. The United States also works to harmonize multilateral controls and domestic export policy to the greatest possible extent, while streamlining the implementation of export controls and strengthening and updating existing legislation and authorities. In addition to strengthening multilateral controls, the State Department, through the Bureau of Nonproliferation’s Office of Export Control Cooperation, administers the Export Control and Related Border Security Assistance (EXBS) program that assists other countries in enacting, implementing, and enforcing export controls -- including those relevant to missiles.

Nonproliferation Sanctions

Nonproliferation standards are too often ignored and flagrantly violated by those who view WMD and missiles as a means of enhancing their security and international influence, or making commercial profit, many of whom are resistant to conventional diplomacy. While the U.S. pursues the diplomatic track whenever possible, the United States and its allies must be willing to deploy more robust techniques, such as economic sanctions, as well as interdiction and seizure, or other means. For example, in 2003 missile sanctions determinations were made against:

  • Changgwang Sinyong Corporation of North Korea; Cuanta S.A., Computer & Communicatii SRL, and Mikhail Vladov of Moldova; and China North Industries Corporation of China.
  • In 2003, penalties for missile-related activities were also imposed on several entities pursuant to Executive Order 12938 and the Iran Nonproliferation Act.


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