The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) is a multilateral export control regime. It is an informal political understanding among 35 member states that seek to limit the proliferation of missiles and missile technology. The regime was formed in 1987 by the G-7 industrialized countries. 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 MTCR places particular focus on rockets and unmanned aerial vehicles capable of delivering a payload of at least 500 kg (1,100 lb) to a range of at least 300 km (190 miles) and on equipment, software, and technology for such systems.
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 Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) was established in April 1987 by the G7 countries: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. The MTCR was created in order to curb the spread of unmanned delivery systems for nuclear weapons, specifically delivery systems that could carry a payload of 500 kg for a distance of 300 km.
The MTCR applies to exports to other members as well as exports to non-members. However an "aide memoire" attached to the MTCR states that it does not supersede prior agreements, which NATO members argue allows the supply of Category 1 systems between NATO members. An example is the supply by the Unites States of Trident missiles to the United Kingdom for nuclear weapons delivery.
At the annual meeting in Oslo on 29 June - 2 July 1992, chaired by Mr. Sten Lundbo, it was agreed to expand the scope of the MTCR to include nonproliferation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for all weapons of mass destruction. Prohibited materials are divided into two Categories, which are outlined in the MTCR Equipment, Software, and Technology Annex. Membership has grown to 35 nations, with India joining on 27th of June 2016 adhering to the MTCR Guidelines unilaterally.
Since its establishment, the MTCR has been successful in helping to slow or stop several ballistic missile programs, according to the Arms Control Association: "Argentina, Egypt, and Iraq abandoned their joint Condor II ballistic missile program. Brazil and South Africa also shelved or eliminated missile or space launch vehicle programs. Some Eastern European countries, such as Poland and the Czech Republic, destroyed their ballistic missiles, in part, to better their chances of joining MTCR." In October 1994, in order to make the enforcement of MTCR Guidelines more uniform, the member states established a "no undercut" policy, meaning if one member denies the sale of some technology to another country, then all members must adhere.
The People's Republic of China is not a member of the MTCR but has agreed to abide by the original 1987 Guidelines and Annex, but not the subsequent revisions. China first verbally pledged that it would adhere to the MTCR in November 1991, and included these assurances in a letter from its Foreign Minister in February 1992. China reiterated its pledge in the October 1994 US-China joint statement. In their October 1997 joint statement, the United States and China stated that they agree "to build on the 1994 Joint Statement on Missile Nonproliferation." In 2004 China applied to join the MTCR, but members did not offer China membership because of concerns about China's export control standards.
Israel, Romania and Slovakia have also agreed to voluntarily follow MTCR export rules even though not yet members.
The regime has its limitations; countries within the MTCR have been known to violate the rules clandestinely. Some of these countries, with varying degrees of foreign assistance, have deployed medium-range ballistic missiles that can travel more than 1,000 kilometers and are exploring missiles with much greater ranges, Israel and China in particular having already deployed strategic nuclear SLCMs and ICBMs and satellite launch systems. Some of these countries, which are not MTCR members, are also becoming sellers rather than simply buyers on the global arms market. North Korea, for example, is viewed as the primary source of ballistic missile proliferation in the world today. China has supplied ballistic missiles and technology to Pakistan. China supplied DF-3A IRBMs to Saudi Arabia in 1988 before it had informally agreed to follow MTCR guidelines. Due to its non-member MTCR status Israel is unable to export its Shavit space launch system to foreign customers though in 1994 the US Clinton administration did allow an import waiver for US companies to buy the Shavit.
In 2002, the MTCR was supplemented by the International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (ICOC), also known as the Hague Code of Conduct, which calls for restraint and care in the proliferation of ballistic missile systems capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction, and has 119 members, thus working parallel to the MTCR with less specific restrictions but with a greater membership.
India formally applied for membership to the group in June 2015, with active support from France and the United States, and officially became a member on 27 June 2016 with the consensus of the 34 member nations.
Over 20 countries have ballistic missile systems.
The MTCR has 35 members.