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Multilateral Nonproliferation Treaties and Regimes

John Schlosser, Director, Office of Export Controls and Sanctions, Bureau of Nonproliferation
Remarks to the Transshipment Enforcement Conference for Middle East States
Barcelona, Spain
May 20, 2002

Good afternoon.

As you have already heard from earlier speakers today, putting in place effective measures against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and related technologies and materials is a multifaceted task, and an urgent one.

One of the central elements to developing an export control and transshipment control system is ensuring effective foreign policy coordination with other governments. This can be achieved in a number of ways, but is usually carried out through becoming party to nonproliferation treaties and agreements, as well as unilateral adherence to the nonproliferation export control regimes or informal coordination with the regimes.

Understanding how nonproliferation is carried out on an international and multilateral scale is important to what each of us does on a national level, as well as from the regional perspective. Let me review for you briefly the international nonproliferation treaties and export control regimes, which together provide a strong layer of defense against proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. As I do so, you will hear both about joining treaties and adhering to the guidelines of regimes. The difference is that multilateral treaties are open to all countries to join; but export control regimes tend to determine membership based on certain criteria. Although all countries may not be actual members of an export control regime, their adherence to the standards of the various regimes is an important step in the process of putting in place an effective export control system.

Adherence to nonproliferation treaties and to the standards of nonproliferation regimes requires certain commitments by your government that can affect industry. If done appropriately, however, the impact is positive and results in better protection and access for commercial sectors.

Multilateral Nonproliferation Treaties and Agreements

Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)
The NPT is one of the great success stories of arms control. The NPT entered into force in 1970, and with 187 parties, it is one of the most widely-adhered to arms agreements in history. The NPT has three main goals:

  • preventing the spread of nuclear weapons;
  • promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy to the many applications in medicine, agriculture, industry, and other areas; and
  • promoting the reduction of nuclear weapons and disarmament.

There is a strong international consensus that the spread of nuclear weapons would endanger global security and threaten regional stability. The NPT and the norm of nonproliferation it supports are the primary reasons why the proliferation of nuclear weapons has been far slower than predicted in the 1960s.

One important element of the NPT is the treaty's requirement for its non-nuclear-weapon state parties to put in place safeguards on all their nuclear activities. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has primary responsibility for verifying that NPT parties are complying with their safeguards obligations. These safeguards include international inspections that help deter the use of nuclear material for nuclear explosive purposes. The events of September 11 have made the NPT even more important. By helping to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and calling for the application of safeguards against diversion of nuclear material, the NPT provides and important political and legal barrier to the acquisition of nuclear weapons by terrorist groups or states who support them.

IAEA Additional Protocol
Over the years, efforts have been made to strengthen the IAEA's safeguard's system. These include a reaffirmation of the IAEA's right to conduct special inspections and the use of new tools for the detection of clandestine nuclear facilities. In 1997, the IAEA adopted a "Model Protocol" for existing safeguards agreements under the NPT that is designed to give the IAEA a stronger role and more effective tools for conducting worldwide inspections. It also provides for additional declarations about states' nuclear activities and expands IAEA access rights. To date, 61 countries have completed an Additional Protocol and 25 have brought it into force. On May 9th, the United States submitted its Additional Protocol to our Senate for advice and consent to ratification.

The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC)
The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction" entered into force in 1975. Under its provisions, parties are obligated not to develop, produce, stockpile, or acquire biological weapons or agents or toxins of types or quantities that have no peaceful or protective purposes. The BWC currently has 145 States Parties and 18 Signatories. The unprecedented terrorist attacks on the United States in September and the subsequent bioterrorism underscore the dangers posed both by determined State actors and non-state actors and highlight the need to ensure that proliferators do not have access to biological agents. International discussions about the BWC today are looking at ways to strengthen the treaty and help ensure full compliance by its parties. The United States has proposed a number of measures to strengthen the BWC, including to:

  • enact criminal legislation;
  • establish a procedure for international investigations of suspicious disease outbreaks or alleged incidents of BW use;
  • develop standards for security of pathogenic microorganisms and safety standards; and
  • commit States Parties to support the World Health Organization's global disease surveillance and response capabilities, as well as to provide rapid emergency medical and investigative services, if requested, in the event of a serious outbreak of an infectious disease.

In November 2002, States Parties will meet to discuss these and other proposals with a view to reaching agreement on a package to produce a strengthened BWC that will help address the growing BW threat of today and the future.

Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)
The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) entered into force in 1997. It bans chemical weapons and mandates the destruction of existing chemical weapon stockpiles that may have been developed before the Treaty entered into force. The CWC prohibits the production or use of toxic chemicals or their precursors for weapons purposes. The CWC does not, however, prohibit use of chemicals for industrial, agricultural, research, medicinal, pharmaceutical, or other peaceful, protective, or law enforcement purposes. There are currently 145 states party to the CWC.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) established in The Hague, Netherlands, administers the CWC for all nations that ratify or accede to the Treaty. Countries are required to report annually to the OPCW on their chemical production activities. In turn, the OPCW has the right to conduct inspections to verify the accuracy of state declarations, ensure that no prohibited activities are occurring, and to verify the destruction of any existing chemical weapons and related facilities. The CWC also imposes restrictions on the transfer of certain chemicals to countries not party to the Treaty.

Multilateral Export Control Regimes

A second line of defense against proliferation is the various multilateral export control regimes that have emerged to curb the proliferation of technology, equipment, and expertise. I'd like to provide you an overview of these export control regimes, which are directly related to and supported by the primary focus of our efforts this week: establishment of effective national control over sensitive technology and materials.

Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)
The worldwide ballistic missile threat is very real and continues to evolve. The U.S. and its friends, forces, and interests will face an increased missile threat from a number of countries, including North Korea and Iran, as those countries continue to work toward more capable systems.

Because of their fast time to target, high in-flight survivability, and inability to be recalled once launched, missiles are the most threatening delivery systems for weapons of mass destruction. Since the early 1980s, the United States has sought to impede the spread of WMD-capable missiles.

One of the key instruments in curbing missile proliferation is the Missile Technology Control Regime. Created in 1987, the MTCR is the focal point of international efforts to curb the proliferation of missiles. The MTCR is not a treaty, but a political understanding among states that seek to limit the proliferation of missiles and missile technology.

The MTCR controls a common list of items, known as "the MTCR Annex," including virtually all key equipment and technology needed for missile development, production, and operation in accordance with a common export control policy called "the MTCR Guidelines." Currently, there are 33 members of the MTCR. Outside the scope of Regime membership, the MTCR Guidelines and Annex are open to all nations to implement unilaterally. Several countries, including Bulgaria, Slovakia, and Romania, unilaterally adhere to the MTCR Guidelines and Annex. The United States encourages all governments to do so and to enforce vigorously controls on missile-related items.

Rigorous enforcement of export controls consistent with the MTCR Guidelines and Annex makes it difficult for proliferators to get items for their programs. It also increases the cost, time and effort required. We know that state sponsors of terrorism and terrorist entities are seeking to acquire WMD and their missile delivery systems. All responsible countries must work to prevent proliferators, terrorists, and smugglers from using their territories to acquire these items.

A decision by your governments to adhere to the MTCR guidelines -- along with the implementation and effective enforcement of controls on exports, re-exports, brokering, and transits of missile related equipment or technology -- would reflect a serious commitment to stop missile proliferation and make a significant contribution to international missile nonproliferation efforts.

The Australia Group (AG)
Just as the MTCR seeks to curb the spread of missile-related equipment and technologies, the Australia Group (AG) seeks to impede the proliferation of chemical and biological precursors and equipment that could assist in the production of chemical or biological weapons.

The Australia Group was founded in 1985, following international concerns about the use of chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq War. During the early 1980s, evidence surfaced that several countries were producing chemical weapons using supplies from the international trade in chemicals and related equipment. The Australia Group was formed to ensure that companies and persons in participating countries did not assist states or other actors to acquire a CBW capability.

The Australia Group currently has 30 members and provides a venue for discussion of CBW threats and trends, including those related to terrorism. Members also discuss their efforts and experiences in implementing and enforcing CBW export controls. The Group works to harmonize participants export controls.

The Australia Group control list covers 54 precursor chemicals use for chemical weapon production, many biological toxins, and microorganisms with high potential for BW use, as well as production equipment, technologies, and facilities.

Australia Group efforts have made it significantly more time consuming and expensive for would-be proliferators to acquire materials for their chemical or biological weapon programs. At the same time, the Australia Group has been instrumental in strengthening legitimate trade and cooperation in chemical and biological materials by generating confidence that traded products will not be diverted for illicit purposes.

Especially in the aftermath of the September 11th and the subsequent anthrax bioterrorism in the United States, the U.S. has been working to strengthen the AG to address better chemical and biological weapon proliferation and terrorism. The United States strongly encourages all countries to adopt national export controls consistent with AG standards. Doing do would be a good start to a robust export control system and help provide confidence - both nationally and internationally - that a country's industry or territory are not facilitating the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons.

Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)
Like the missile and CBW arena, efforts have also been made to bring together key suppliers of nuclear equipment, materials, and technologies to ensure against their diversion to proliferators.

The Nuclear Suppliers Group was created in 1975, after India's initial development and testing of its nuclear capability and the realization that more needed to be done to prevent the proliferation of key nuclear weapon related technology. The 39-member states of the NSG implement guidelines for control of nuclear and nuclear-related exports. Members voluntarily adhere to the guidelines, which are adopted by consensus, and exchange information on developments of nuclear proliferation concern. NSG guidelines govern exports of nuclear materials and equipment that require application of IAEA safeguards by recipient countries, and also dual-use nuclear equipment, materials, software, and related technology that could make a major contribution to a nuclear explosive or unsafeguarded nuclear fuel cycle activity. This basic principle also includes ensuring against transfers if there is an unacceptable risk of diversion to nuclear explosive testing or nuclear fuel cycle activities, or when transfers are contrary to the objective of averting the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Since 1992, NSG members have required full-scope safeguards as a condition of supply. This means that NSG members will only send controlled nuclear commodities to non-nuclear countries that have an agreement in place with the IAEA for safeguards on all their nuclear facilities.

The Wassenaar Arrangement (WA)
Exports of advanced conventional arms and sensitive dual-use goods and technology is becoming an increasing priority for the United States and others. Advanced conventional arms sales in particular can be destabilizing and undermine regional and international security.

The Wassenaar Arrangement was created in 1994 and governs international transfers of conventional weapons and related dual-use goods and technologies. Its purpose is to contribute to international security and stability by promoting greater responsibility and transparency in transfers of arms and sensitive dual-use goods and technologies.

Adherence to the Wassenaar Arrangement means having effective controls, sound nonproliferation policies, and adherence to other nonproliferation treaties and agreements.

United States Export Controls

The United States imposes the same strict controls on its own industry that we ask of other countries; in fact, our controls are even more stringent than those required under most international regimes. U.S. law prohibits U.S. firms from selling weapons to countries designated as state-sponsors of terrorism. Moreover, U.S. law prohibits us from providing assistance to countries that transfer arms to such state-sponsors of terrorism. We currently identify seven countries as state sponsors of terrorism: Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria. Many of these countries are also ones that we believe are pursuing programs for producing or acquiring weapons of mass destruction, missiles, or advanced conventional weapons.


In conclusion, I hope this presentation has helped provide a better understanding of how nonproliferation is carried forward at the multilateral and international level. The treaties and agreements that comprise the multilateral nonproliferation regime and the initiatives they promote may seem far-removed from the day-to-day actions on exports and commerce we all face. But each nonproliferation treaty or regime that has emerged creates new tools in the fight against proliferation and provides concrete examples of steps we all can take to make our own national efforts more effective.

There will always be a certain amount of tension between the need for good export controls on the one hand, and the desire to promote free commerce on the other. Successful export control policies often require striking a balance among competing goals: preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, missile, and advanced conventional arms, promoting commercial interests, and maintaining good political relations with other countries. The United States is convinced that such a balance is possible and -- as we have seen in recent months -- critical to ensuring national and global security.

Thank you.

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