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Statement by Dr. Aleksandr Baichorov, Head of International Security and Arms Control Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus


Paper presented at the Warsaw Global Missile Inventory Conference

Warsaw, 8-9 December 2003

The issue of missile proliferation has become a growing concern of the international community in recent years. A rising number of countries have established missile programmes. The missile technology is no longer restricted to certain states. Excluding the nuclear-weapon-states, there are reportedly more than a dozen states possessing various levels of capability for the development and production of missiles. There has indeed been increasingly easier access to technology, expertise and information for the development of such systems. The devastating effect of a possible missile strike was explicitly demonstrated during the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington in September 2001. There is also a real danger of missiles being used as antisatellite weapons, threatening to engulf outer space in war-fighting strategies.

There is currently no multilateral treaty or agreement regulating the production, possession or trade in missiles. The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) as an informal and voluntary export control regime seeking to limit the proliferation of missile systems and missile technologies had remained the only regulatory and controlling mechanism in this area for 16 years. The MTCR like other regimes focuses on non-proliferation and not the disarmament of the established missile-producing countries seeking their missiles as important tools of deterrence.

The MTCR, in our view, has a range of serious shortcomings, which are inherent and typical for almost all existing international export control regimes. Among them:

- limited membership that leads to the problem of legitimacy;

- an absence of psychological or ethical taboo on the export or development of missiles comparable to that on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons;

- no moral stigma is attached to the export of missile technology;

- a lack of a legally-binding document contributes to the difficulties with the enforcement and verification within the Regime;

- limited focus and concentration only on the supply-side of the export controls;

- a lack of consensus among the Regime member states concerning the proliferation threats;

- an absence of a clear enemy to be targeted;

- a problem of states joining the Regimes for the wrong reason.

Experts argue that the Regime could be improved in several ways: firstly, by the presence of a legally binding instrument that provides clearly written export guidelines, on which states can base their national export controls. But today it is hardly achievable.

The way forward lies not only in maintaining existing regimes, but also in creating new ones. A comprehensive solution requires the development of a new multilateral regime to address the demand side of missile proliferation, which would work along side the existing supply/side regimes.

Recently we have witnessed a number of new initiatives put forward in the field of missile non-proliferation. First of all, this is the Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCOC).

Another important proposal to tackle missile proliferation was put forward within the framework of the United Nations General Assembly in 1999. The resolution 54/54 F instructed the Secretary General to seek the views of member states on the issue of missiles in all its aspects. The subsequent resolutions at the 55th and 56th sessions of the UNGA emphasized the need for a comprehensive approach towards missiles, in a balanced and non-discriminatory manner, as a contribution to international peace and security. They requested the Secretary General with the assistance of a panel of governmental experts, to prepare a report on missiles in all its aspects, which has been published this year.

The last but not least element in a chain of efforts to prevent missile proliferation is a Global Control System for the Non-proliferation of Missiles and Missile Technologies (GCS) put forward by the Russian President during the G-8 Summit in Cologne in June 1999. Having been explored at expert level meeting in Moscow in March 2000 and February 2001 the proposal acknowledges the security concerns raised by the missile programmes and the concomitant need for security assurances. The GCS might consist of three main parts: two large blocks of elements from existing or new international regimes and implementation and consultation mechanism. The non-proliferation block may include: the MTCR, the Hague Code of Conduct, incentive mechanism, security assurances, national and multilateral measures to enhance missile non-proliferation and diplomatic and economic enforcement measures. The transparency block - the MTCR, the HCOC, launch notifications, technical monitoring of launches, an international missile data center and additional confidence-building measures. International implementation and consultation mechanisms could include three components: a GCS coordination body, mechanism for international consultations and various other institutional frameworks. A Global Monitoring System (GMS) would increase transparency with regard to missile launches and reduce the risk of miscalculation or misunderstanding. Such a GMS may include controls on missile and missile technology transfers to third countries. In order to discourage proliferation, the GCS would offer security incentives and assistance in the peaceful use of space for states that completely give up and convert their missile programmes and capabilities.

Talking about the HCOC and the GCS, one can argue that in spite of being competitive in the political realm, both initiatives are rather complementary to each other. Many components of the GCS represented a public airing of ideas that had substantial support among MTCR members. This point particularly applies to the proposals on transparency and incentives, which are the principal planks of the Code of Conduct. The fact that the GCS is discussed outside the MTCR framework should not be considered as an attempt to undermine the Regime. While the HCOC represents a platform for a concerted MTCR approach towards non-members, the GCS could help to build bridges between MTCR members and non-members.

In our view, the best way to tackle missile proliferation could be a synergy of HCOC and the GCS under the UN aegis. The UN governmental group of experts should consider all existing proposals and come up with a common norm against missile proliferation, which would include comprehensive, multilateral regime based on transparency and confidence-building measures. The GCS and HCOC could serve as a good starting point for this work.

Now I would like to say a few words about the Proliferation Security Initiative that was proposed by the President George Bush in June 2003 and enjoyed support of a number of European countries. We share the goals of PSI aimed at preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), materials for their manufacture and their delivery means. However, any steps to prevent WMD proliferation and their delivery means should not undermine a credibility of existing non-proliferation regimes and respective international structures.

With a view to interface PSI with existing international legal basis it is necessary to conduct a comprehensive review of its implementation mechanisms within the framework of the UN Security Council, which is the only universal body legally competent to take coercive measures to maintain or restore international peace and security.

There are also several questions that have emerged during the considerations on PSI. In particular, who and how is going to intercept an aircraft within the airspace of Belarus, for example, if there are suspicions that it carries prohibited technologies and/or WMD components? Who and how is going to compensate financial and moral losses of a concerned party due to the interception if these suspicions are not confirmed? Who will be in charge of destroying WMD components after the interception?

There is still work to be done in order to intertwine the PSI with the existing non-proliferation mechanisms and norms of international law.