The independent resource on global security

18. Transfer controls and destruction programmes



I. Introduction

II. The main developments in multilateral transfer control regimes in 2003

III. The Wassenaar Arrangement

IV. Supply-side measures in the European Union

V. Transfer control issues

VI. Developments in cooperative arms destruction

VII. Conclusions


Read the full chapter [PDF].


There were new developments in 2003 in all four international informal export control regimes (the Australia Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technology), as well as in export control-related policies in the European Union and international non-proliferation disarmament and assistance efforts.


During 2003 activities in the export control regimes focused on adapting export controls to achieve two objectives: first, to combat the proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons (and missile delivery systems for them); and second, to combat terrorism. There has been a particular focus on measures to prevent the acquisition of weapon of mass destruction-related materials and technology as well as man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS) by groups planning terrorist acts. The MTCR amended its agreed Guidelines to ensure that all participating states have ‘a legal basis to control the export of items that are not on a control list, when such items are destined for missile programmes’. Participating states also agreed to apply controls to the transfer of technology by intangible means, for example, via email or by word of mouth.


States participating in the Wassenaar Arrangement changed the founding document to include an exchange of information on transfers of small arms and light weapons and MANPADS. States agreed to strengthen export controls on MANPADS, arms brokering and unlisted items that can be used for both military and civilian purposes. The European Union took steps to ensure that export controls remain effective in the enlarged EU.


National controls on the export of dual-use items are being evaluated, and the first fundamental review of the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports is under way.


Effective export control in the majority of new EU member states is undermined by their exclusion from one or more of the information exchanges that take place in the export control cooperation arrangements. Full participation by all EU member states in all regimes will be a critical issue in 2004.


In 2003, governments participating in the G8 Global Partnership Against Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction eliminated obstacles to the implementation of some international non-proliferation and disarmament assistance projects. In 2004 projects to eliminate chemical weapons and dismantle decommissioned nuclear-powered submarines in Russia are expected to be the main focus of activity.



Dr Ian Anthony (United Kingdom) is SIPRI Research Coordinator and the Leader of the SIPRI Non-proliferation and Export Controls Project. In 1992–98 he was Leader of the SIPRI Arms Transfers Project. His most recent publication for SIPRI is SIPRI Research Report No. 19, Reducing Threats at the Source: a European Perspective on Cooperative Threat Reduction (2004). He is also editor of the SIPRI volumes Russia and the Arms Trade (1998), Arms Export Regulations (1991) and SIPRI Research Report No. 7, The Future of Defence Industries in Central and Eastern Europe (1994), and author of The Naval Arms Trade (SIPRI, 1990) and The Arms Trade and Medium Powers: Case Studies of India and Pakistan 1947–90 (Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1992). He has written or co-authored chapters for the SIPRI Yearbook since 1988.


Dr Sibylle Bauer (Germany) is a Researcher on the SIPRI Non-proliferation and Export Controls Project. She is the author of The Europeanisation of Arms Export Policies and its Impact on Democratic Accountability (SIPRI, forthcoming 2005). In her previous capacity as researcher with the Brussels-based Institute for European Studies, she contributed chapters on European export control and armaments policies to The Restructuring of the European Defence Industry (Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 2001), Annuaire Français de Relations Internationales [French Yearbook of International Relations] (Bruylant, 2001) and The Path to European Defence (Maklu, 2003).

Dr Ian Anthony and Dr Sibylle Bauer