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The Challenge of Software and Technology Transfers to Non-proliferation Efforts: Implementing and Complying with Export Controls

Cover The challenge of software and technology transfers to non-proliferation efforts: Implementing and complying with export controls
Publisher: SIPRI
SIPRI, Stockholm:
April, 2018

Transfers of software and technology can play a crucial role in the proliferation of conventional arms and weapons of mass destruction. However, they can also take an intangible form or be transferred through intangible means that make them difficult to detect and monitor. This SIPRI paper examines (a) the different ways in which transfers of software and technology occur; (b) the proliferation-related challenges they generate, (c) the way controls are structured in the multilateral export control regimes and implemented in EU member states, and (d) the particular challenges that implementation and compliance present for EU governments, companies and research institutes. The conclusions highlight steps that different stakeholders can take to improve the consistency and effectiveness of software and technology controls.

This is one of two research papers that address the closely related issues of controlling transfers of software and technology and applying exports controls to additive manufacturing. Taken together, the papers examine some of the most challenging issues that governments, companies and research institutes in the European Union (EU) and the wider world are facing when they seek to effectively implement dual-use and arms export controls. The papers also address a range of topics that are under active discussion within the multilateral export control regimes and in connection with the recast of the EU Dual-use Regulation. For the second paper, 'The Challenge of Emerging Technologies to Non-proliferation Efforts: Controlling Additive Manufacturing and Intangible Transfers of Technology', see here.

Funding for the concept paper was provided by the US Department of State’s Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) Program.


1. Introduction

2. Means of transferring software and technology

3. Key proliferation challenges and transfers of software and technology

4. Export controls and transfers of software and technology

5. National practices in the EU and key challenges

6. Conclusions and recommendations



Dr Mark Bromley is a Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Dual-Use and Arms Trade Control Programme.
Giovanna Maletta is a Senior Researcher and Acting Programme Director for the Dual-Use and Arms Trade Control Programme at SIPRI.