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Missile Technology Control Regime: MTCR


Introduction. In 1983, Canada, France, West Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States began negotiations to jointly limit exports of ballistic and cruise missile technology. The talks led to the creation of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in April 1987. MTCR established export control guidelines and annexes listing missile-related equipment and technologies that would require export licenses (see 706bMNP89). Membership in MTCR has grown over time. There are currently 33 partners (see below).

The original guidelines concerned missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. The Equipment and Technology Annex defined such missiles as those able to carry a 500-kg payload over 300 km. That payload was deemed to be the smallest likely to be employed for a nuclear warhead; the range was estimated as the shortest likely to be militarily useful for a missile with a nuclear warhead. The Annex defines two categories of potential exports. Category I covers complete missile systems and major subsystems such as reentry vehicles, guidance systems, or rocket stages. Category II covers components of missile systems and missile development and production technology.

In July 1993, MTCR members extended the regime to cover missiles capable of carrying chemical or biological weapons {706dMNP93 1.7} by adding two items to Category II: complete systems for missiles with ranges greater than 300 km, regardless of payload capacity; and components of such systems. The MTCR partners also explored ways to strengthen missile non-proliferation by reducing demand while maintaining supplier restraints. They discussed options ranging from organizing more unified efforts against proliferators to negotiating a missile possession treaty {29.11?2.12}.

The 1995 MTCR plenary made minor amendments to the Equipment and Technology Annex {10?12.10}. The 1996 plenary focused on regional aspects of missile proliferation {7?10.10}. In 1997 the plenary stressed the need for dialogue with non-members to achieve the regime’s goals {4?6.11}. The 1998 plenary discussed missile-related developments in South Asia, Northeast Asia, and the Middle East, and ways to make the regime more transparent. It also issued an invitation in principle for China to join the MTCR {5?9.10}. The 1999 plenary discussed new responses to the missile proliferation threat and ways to promote “responsible missile behavior” {11?15.10.99}. The 2000 plenary decided to engage states outside the MTCR in an effort to agree on a new broad-based multilateral arrangement {10?13.10.00}. The 2001 plenary deliberated on a draft Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (see below) that MTCR partners had been working on {25–28.9.01}. The 2002 plenary decided to incorporate definitions of “range” and “payload” and the methods for calculating them to the MTCR’s Annex. {ACR 706bMNP02 21-27.9} In January 2003 the regime’s mandate was expanded to include preventing terrorists from acquiring missiles and missile technology. The 2004 plenary welcomed UN resolution 1540 by the Security Council, which calls on all states to prevent the proliferation of WMD and their means of delivery.

Title. “Missile Technology Control Regime.”
Weapons. Ballistic missiles and cruise missiles.
Location/sessions. Since 1987, the MTCR has held nineteen plenary meetings:


8–9 September 1988


5–6 December 1989


18–20 July 1990


19–20 March 1991


4–8 November 1991


29 June–2 July 1992


8–11 March 1993


29 November–2 December 1993


4–6 October 1994


10–12 October 1995


7–10 October 1996


4–6 November 1997


5–9 October 1998


11–15 October 1999


10–13 October 2000


25–28 September 2001


24–27 September 2002

Buenos Aires

19–26 September 2003


4–8 October 2004

The next plenary will meet in Spain in September 2005.

Partners The current members of the MTCR are shown below, with the first year of membership in parentheses. The original members are shown in bold. In addition to members, there are adherents that do not take part in meetings, but have undertaken to adhere to MTCR guidelines.

MTCR Members

IDDS Reference

Argentina (1993)


Australia (1990)


Austria (1991)


Belgium (1990)


Brazil (1995)


Bulgaria (2004)


Canada (1987)


Czech Republic (1998)


Denmark (1990)


Finland (1991)


France (1987)


Germany (1987)


Greece (1992)


Hungary (1993)


Iceland (1993)


Ireland (1992)


Italy (1987)


Japan (1987)


Luxembourg (1990)


Netherlands (1990)


New Zealand (1991)


Norway (1990)


Poland (1998)


Portugal (1992)


Republic of Korea (2001)


Russian Federation (1995)


South Africa (1995)


Spain (1990)


Sweden (1991)


Switzerland (1992)


Turkey (1997)


Ukraine (1998)


United Kingdom (1987)


United States (1987)


Total Members


Unilateral Adherents


Israel (1992)


Romania (1992)


Slovakia (1994)


Total Unilateral Adherents


Procedures and Decisions. MTCR decisions are approved by consensus.

Official Records. None published; press releases following plenaries.


1. “The purpose is to limit the risks of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (i.e., nuclear, chemical and biological weapons), by controlling transfers that could make a contribution to delivery systems (other than manned aircraft) for such weapons.” Commitment not to impede civilian space programs. “Restraint” to be exercised in all transfers, considered on a case-by-case basis.
2. Agreement applies to two categories of items. Items from Category I, of greatest sensitivity, may be transferred “only on rare occasions” and only when the exporting nation received end-use assurances. No Category I production facilities may be transferred. “Particular restraint” to be exercised in transferring any of the items in Category I or II, with “a strong presumption to deny” any transfers the exporter judges to be intended for WMD delivery systems.
3. Factors to be taken into account: proliferation concerns; the existing missile program of the recipient; role in delivery system; end-use assurances; multilateral agreements.
4. Design and production technology included.
5. If transfer could contribute to delivery system for weapon of mass destruction, authorized only on end-use certification.
6. Exchange of data with other MTCR members.
7. Other states welcome to adhere.
Category I covers complete rocket systems and unmanned air vehicle systems (including cruise missiles) “capable of delivering at least a 500-kg payload to a range of at least 300 km.” It also covers subsystems and rocket stages.
Category II covers components, propellants, etc. It also covers complete systems and subsystems for missiles with ranges greater than 300 km regardless of their payload capacity.

The latest full texts of the Guidelines and the Annex (comprising over 50 pages of descriptions of controlled items) are available on a web site maintained by the Canadian government on behalf of the MTCR:


Dissatisfied with their failure to curb ballistic missile proliferation solely through supply-side restraints, MTCR members meeting in Noordwijk in 1999 discussed the idea of establishing demand-side norms to supplement the MTCR {11–15.10}. The idea was to develop confidence-building measures that would encourage “responsible missile behavior.” The 2000 Helsinki MTCR plenary discussed a draft International Code of Conduct (ICOC), also known as the Hague International Code of Conduct (HCOC) {10–13.10}. The Ottawa plenary in 2001 approved the draft {25–28.9}. In 2002, two international conferences to discuss the ICOC were held, the first in Paris in February attended by 86 states, and the second in Madrid in June attended by 100 states. On 25 November 2002, the ICOC was formally adopted in The Hague (25-26.11.02), with 93 states subscribing that day. Key states such as China, India, Pakistan, Israel, Iran, and North Korea did not sign the code. The Netherlands was appointed as the first Chair of the Code for one year, and the Dutch Foreign Ministry maintains a web site (see below) with current signatories and other information. Austria was appointed as the administrative Central Contact. On 24–25 June 2003, the 106 states subscribing to the ICOC held their first intersessional meeting in Vienna, Austria. They discussed the implementation of confidence building measures, such as exchanging Annual Declarations on national ballistic missile and space launch vehicle policies and pre-launch notifications; ways to increase the number of subscribing states to the ICOC; and the status of the Code within the UN framework. In 2004 the UN General Assembly First Committee adopted the ICOC, and invited all States that had not yet done so, to subscribe to it {28.10}. The draft presented to the UN met debate by nations like Iran and Egypt who voted against the adoption, because the text would not be open to amendments. Negotiations leading to the adoption took place outside the UN.

Location/sessions. The ICOC first met in 2002; the 4th Regular Conference of Subscribing States of the Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation will be held 2-3 June 2005 in The Hague (Netherlands).

As of 31 December 2004

Dates of commitment are listed on the right.

Afghanistan 25-Nov-02
Albania 25-Nov-02
Argentina 25-Nov-02
Australia 25-Nov-02
Austria 25-Nov-02
Azerbaijan 25-Nov-02
Belarus 25-Nov-02
Belgium 25-Nov-02
Benin 25-Nov-02
Bosnia & Herzegovina 25-Nov-02
Bulgaria 25-Nov-02
Burkina Faso 25-Nov-02
Burundi 12-Jun-03
Cambodia 29-Jan-04
Cameroon 25-Nov-02
Canada 25-Nov-02
Chad 25-Nov-02
Chile 25-Nov-02
Colombia 25-Nov-02
Comoros 25-Nov-02
Cook Islands 25-Nov-02
Costa Rica 25-Nov-02
Croatia 25-Nov-02
Cyprus 25-Nov-02
Czech Republic 25-Nov-02
Denmark 25-Nov-02
El Salvador 25-Nov-02
Eritrea 14-Aug-03
Estonia 25-Nov-02
Fiji 22-Apr-03
Finland 25-Nov-02
France 25-Nov-02
Gabon 25-Nov-02
Georgia 25-Nov-02
Germany 25-Nov-02
Ghana 25-Nov-02
Greece 25-Nov-02
Guinea 25-Nov-02
Guinea-Bissau 26-Nov-02
Guyana 30-Sep-02
Holy See 25-Nov-02
Hungary 25-Nov-02
Iceland 25-Nov-02
Ireland 25-Nov-02
Italy 25-Nov-02
Japan 25-Nov-02
Jordan 25-Nov-02
Kenya 25-Nov-02
Kiribati 25-Nov-02
Latvia 25-Nov-02
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya 25-Nov-02
Liechtenstein 26-Aug-03
Lithuania 25-Nov-02
Luxembourg 25-Nov-02
Madagascar 25-Nov-02
Malawi 9-Nov-03
Malta 25-Nov-02
Marshall Islands 25-Nov-02
Mauritania 25-Nov-02
Micronesia (Fed, States of) 25-Nov-02
Monaco 25-Nov-02
Morocco 25-Nov-02
Mozambique 14-Mar-03
Netherlands 25-Nov-02
New Zealand 25-Nov-02
Nicaragua 25-Nov-02
Niger 26-Nov-02
Nigeria 25-Nov-02
Norway 25-Nov-02
Palau 25-Nov-02
Panama 4-Apr-03
Papua New Guinea 25-Nov-02
Paraguay 25-Nov-02
Peru 25-Nov-02
Philippines 25-Nov-02
Poland 25-Nov-02
Portugal 25-Nov-02
Republic of Korea 25-Nov-02
Republic of Moldova 25-Nov-02
Romania 25-Nov-02
Russian Federation 25-Nov-02
Rwanda 25-Nov-02
Senegal 25-Nov-02
Serbia & Montenegro 25-Nov-02
Seychelles 25-Nov-02
Sierra Leone 25-Nov-02
Slovakia 25-Nov-02
Slovenia 25-Nov-02
South Africa 25-Nov-02
Spain 25-Nov-02
Sudan 25-Nov-02
Suriname 25-Nov-02
Sweden 25-Nov-02
Switzerland 25-Nov-02
Tajikistan 25-Nov-02
Tanzania 25-Nov-02
The F Y Rep of Macedonia 25-Nov-02
Timor-Leste 25-Nov-02
Tonga 3-Sept-03
Tunisia 25-Nov-02
Turkey 25-Nov-02
Turkmenistan 10-Jun-03
Tuvalu 25-Nov-02
Uganda 25-Nov-02
Ukraine 31-Mar-04
United Kingdom 25-Nov-02
United States 25-Nov-02
Uruguay 25-Nov-02
Uzbekistan 25-Nov-02
Vanuatu 4-Dec-02
Venezuela 25-Nov-02
Zambia 25-Nov-02
Total States Parties 112



The Subscribing States
1. Adopt this [ICOC]...
2. Resolve to respect the following Principles:
a) ...[T]he need comprehensively to prevent and curb the proliferation of Ballistic Missile systems capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction...;
b) ...[T]he importance of strengthening, and gaining wider adherence to, multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation mechanisms...;
c) ...[T]hat adherence to and full compliance with international arms control, disarmament ... norms help build confidence...;
d) ...[T]hat participation in this Code is voluntary and open to all States...;
e) ...[T]heir commitment to the UN Declaration on International Cooperation in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space ...[UN General Assembly Res. 51/122, 13 December 1996];
f) ...[T]hat reaping ...benefits and ...conducting related cooperation [in space, states] must not contribute to the proliferation of Ballistic Missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction;
g) ...[T]hat Space Launch Vehicle programmes should not be used to conceal Ballistic Missile programmes;
h) ...[T]he necessity of ... transparency measures on Ballistic Missile ... and Space Launch Vehicle programmes ... to increase confidence and to promote non-proliferation ....
3. Resolve to implement the following General Measures:
a) To ratify, accede to or otherwise abide by:
• the Treaty on ... Outer Space (1967),
• the Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects (1972), and
• the Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space (1975);
b) To curb and prevent the proliferation of Ballistic Missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction, ...;
c) To exercise maximum possible restraint in the development, testing and deployment of Ballistic Missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction, including, where possible, to reduce national holdings...;
d) To exercise the necessary vigilance in the consideration of assistance to Space Launch Vehicle programmes in any other country so as to prevent contributing to delivery systems for weapons of mass destruction, ...;
e) Not to contribute to, support or assist any Ballistic Missile programme in countries which might be developing or acquiring weapons of mass destruction in contravention of norms .., and... obligations...;
4. Resolve to implement the following:
a) Transparency measures as follows, with [enough] ...detail to increase confidence and to promote non-proliferation of Ballistic Missiles...:
i) With respect to Ballistic Missile programmes to:
make an annual declaration providing an outline of their Ballistic Missile policies...
provide annual information on the number and generic class of Ballistic Missiles launched during the preceding year...
ii) With respect to expendable Space Launch Vehicle programmes, and consistent with commercial and economic confidentiality principles, to:
make an annual declaration...of their Space Launch Vehicle policies...
provide annual information on the number and generic class of Space Launch Vehicles launched during the preceding year...
consider... inviting ... observers to their land (test-) launch sites;
iii) With respect to their Ballistic Missile and Space Launch Vehicle programmes to:
exchange pre-launch notifications on their Ballistic Missile and Space Launch Vehicle launches and test flights....
b) Subscribing States could, as appropriate and on a voluntary basis, develop bilateral or regional transparency measures, in addition to those above.
c) Implementation of the above [CBMs] does not serve as justification for the programmes to which [the CBMs] apply;
5. Organisational aspects - Subscribing States determine to:
a) Hold regular meetings, annually or as otherwise agreed by Subscribing States;
b) Take all decisions by a consensus...
c) Use these meetings to define, review and further develop the... Code, including...
• establishing procedures regarding the exchange of ... information ...;
• establishing an appropriate mechanism for the ... resolution of questions arising from national declarations...;
• naming of a Subscribing State to serve as an immediate central contact for collecting and disseminating [CBM] submissions, receiving ... the subscription of additional States, and other tasks...; and
• others as may be agreed by the Subscribing States, including possible amendments to the Code.

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