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12. Multilateral military-related export control measures

Contents

IAN ANTHONY AND THOMAS STOCK

Summary

Multilateral regimes are in place to govern the supply
of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies, nuclear materials
and technology, chemical and biological weapons, and missile technology.
In 1995 changes occurred in the membership of the military-related export
control regimes: Romania became the 29th member of the Australia Group (chemical
and biological weapons); and Brazil, Russia and South Africa became members
of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), bringing its membership
to 28. New Zealand and South Africa became members of the Nuclear Suppliers
Group (NSG), increasing its membership to 31. Even so, at the end of 1995
membership of the regimes was still confined to 34 countries.

The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional
Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies was established, subject to approval
of the member governments, in December 1995 at a meeting of high-level officials
of 28 states. This regime is expected to be established formally in 1996.
In the EU, the regulation developed to address exports of dual-use technologies
entered into force on 1 July 1995. With these two events, the emphasis
of multilateral export regulation has been expanded to include new categories
of goods and technologies.

The process of harmonizing membership across the regimes
is an interesting aspect. In the area of transfers of nuclear materials
and technology, during the cold war period the Soviet Union and other members
of the Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO) were involved in development of
the NSG. The other regimes, however, were founded around a core group of
states which were associated with the system of alliances and security arrangements
led by the United States. Since the end of the cold war, the membership
of regimes has gradually been harmonized until, by the end of 1995, most
of the former members of the WTO and the European states that were neutral
or non-aligned during the cold war had become members of one or more of
the multilateral regimes.

Moreover, in recent years members of the regimes have increasingly
emphasized those activities that set the terms and conditions on which technology
transfer can occur rather than the denial aspects of export controls.

As a result of changes in technology and markets, the regulation
of international technology transfer is increasingly seen by governments
as a collaborative exercise. Regimes provide them with a forum for discussion,
exchange of information, lobbying and bargaining in support of national
policy objectives.

Government objectives can be of a political nature (the
US preference), economic or narrowly focused on non-proliferation concerns.
There is no consensus within any of the regimes that they should attempt
to coerce states whose political behaviour is considered unacceptable by
regime members. However, the USA does use its export regulations in this
way and is a central actor in each of the multilateral regimes. On 15 March
1995 President Bill Clinton expanded US sanctions against Iran to include
a ban on all trade and investment, including the purchase of Iranian oil
by US companies. The action was explained by Secretary of State Warren Christopher
as part of a wider policy 'to use our diplomatic and economic measures and
our military deterrent to contain Iran and to pressure it to cease its unacceptable
actions'. These 'unacceptable actions' included proliferation concerns but
also included actions not related to proliferation. Specifically, the charges
are that Iran is 'the foremost sponsor of international terrorism' and that
it 'seeks to undermine the Middle East peace process'. While other governments
object to aspects of Iran's behaviour - particularly its opposition to the
Middle East peace process - there is a dispute about how to attempt to change
it. Some members of the regimes favour a policy of 'critical dialogue' with
Iran.

It is with chemical and biological weapons that international
responsibility to prevent proliferation is greatest because of the universal
prohibition of the use, development, production and transfer of these weapons
through the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and the 1993 Chemical
Weapons Convention (CWC).

The particular status given to nuclear weapon states in
the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) - which has no equivalent in the
CWC or BWC - has made it more difficult to secure comprehensive membership
of the NPT. There is no multilateral convention or treaty that addresses
the issue of ballistic missile possession or use.

In 1995 some governments continued to argue that the activities
of the Australia Group are not consistent with Article XI of the Chemical
Weapons Convention (CWC), which relates to economic and technological development
and commits the states parties to facilitate the fullest possible exchange
of chemical materials and related information for purposes not prohibited
by the convention. (Several governments argue that, since export controls
are a barrier to trade, they cannot be consistent with this commitment.
However, since export controls are given expression through national legislation
(whose legitimacy is not questioned), the abolition of the regimes could
make trade regulation less rather than more efficient, with even greater
barriers to technology transfer.) Moreover, if there were no regulations
that sought to prevent unwanted forms of proliferation, some states - notably
the USA - might argue for other measures (perhaps including the use of force)
to prevent the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. The debate
on CWC Article XI reflects the misunderstanding or, alternatively, the lack
of trust between 'North' and 'South'.

Regimes also address technologies which are neither inherently
military in character nor directly associated with a weapon system but which
could have military applications. Secure and effective communications are
a crucial factor in successful military operations. For this reason digital
communications systems dedicated to military application usually require
export licences. It is often said that there has been a convergence between
military and civil telecommunications technology or that civilian technology
is superior to (rather than just different from) military technology in
this area. The question therefore arises whether a country that would be
denied a licence for a military communications system can achieve the same
capabilities by purchasing unlicensed civilian technologies.

 
Appendix 12A. Transfers of digital communications system technology
IAN ANTHONY

Appendix 12A discusses the
possible impact of multilateral export controls on transfers of one specific
dual-use technology—digital telecommunications.

Dr Ian Anthony
English