MTCR Is Informal And Voluntary Association
The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) is an informal and voluntary association of countries that works to limit the proliferation of missiles and missile technology. MTCR was set up in April 1987 by the G-7 industrialized countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the United States).
With the accession of India, the current membership of MTCR is 35. Other prominent members other than the G-7 industrialized countries are Australia, Brazil, Russian Federation, South Africa, Republic of Korea, Switzerland etc. Interestingly, China is not a member of MTCR.
MTCR Is NOT A Treaty
MTCR is not a treaty but an informal political understanding among member nations. MTCR does not impose legally binding obligations over its member countries.
MTCR Has Diverse Aims and Objectives
Initially, MTCR was focusing on proliferation of missiles for nuclear weapons delivery. But in 1992, it extended its focus to include proliferation of missiles for the delivery of all types of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), i.e., nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. As proliferation of WMDs is a threat to international peace and security, MTCR aims to counter this threat by maintaining vigilance over the transfer of missile equipment, software, complete rocket systems, unmanned aerial vehicles (not manned aircraft) and related technologies used by systems capable of carrying at least 500 kg payload for at least 300 km as well as those capable of delivering WMDs.
Moreover, the activities of MTCR are in line with the UN’s non-proliferation and export control efforts. Applying the MTCR guidelines helps the member countries to meet their export control obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 1540.
The MTCR Chairmanship rotates and the country that hosts the Plenary serves as the Chair for the ensuing year.
Decision Making In MTCR
All MTCR decisions require a consensus decision taken by all members.
MTCR Category I and Category II Items and their regulation
Category I items
Those systems which are capable of delivering a payload of at least 500 kg to a range of at least 300 km are classified as Category I items. They include:
Complete rocket and unmanned aerial vehicle systems including ballistic missiles, space launch vehicles, sounding rockets, cruise missiles, target drones, and reconnaissance drones.
The major subsystems such as rocket stages, engines, guidance-sets, re-entry vehicles, as well as the related software and technology, and specially designed production facilities for these items.
Regulation of category-I items
Export of items falling under category I are usually denied regardless of the purpose of the export. But, they may be licensed for export on rare occasions.
Exports of production facilities for these items are absolutely prohibited.
Category II Items
It includes other less sensitive items like dual-use missile related components and other complete missile systems with a range of at least 300km regardless of payload.
Regulation of category-II items
Export of category II items are subject to licensing requirements taking into consideration the non-proliferation factors as mentioned in the MTCR Guidelines. Exports intended for use in WMD delivery are put through a strong presumption of denial.