The independent resource on global security

17. Transfer controls



I. Introduction

II. The main developments in multilateral transfer control regimes in 2004

III. The Nuclear Suppliers Group

IV. Supply-side measures in the European Union

V. Conclusions


Read the full chapter [PDF].


The states that participate in informal multilateral groups to enhance the effectiveness of their national arms export controls continued to acknowledge that additional efforts are needed to combat and, if possible, reverse the proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) weapons and their delivery systems. In 2004 evidence continued to accumulate that more countries recognize the strong self-interest in maintaining modern and effective national transfer controls. The failure of states to put in place modern and effective export controls was a factor that contributed to the development of Iraqi weapon programmes in the past. Uncertainty about the status of certain of these weapon programmes became a critical factor contributing to the crisis that led to war in Iraq.


Concern about the emergence of new suppliers of technologies that are relevant to the development or production of NBC weapons was heightened by the public disclosure of the activities of a network of ‘knowledgeable individuals’ led by Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, which had been working for more than a decade to supply weapon-relevant materials and technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea. Khan’s global network of collaborators included a number of participants located in and operating from countries that participate in the Nuclear Suppliers Group.


In Europe, the EU member states reviewed the national implementation of the regulation that forms a common legal basis for controlling exports of dual-use items from the EU. This 'peer review' produced specific recommendations that the European Commission and EU member states should now take into account when implementing the dual-use regulation and considering amendments to the regulation and national export control systems.


Strengthening the national export controls of states is an important aspect of enhancing the wider non-proliferation regime. In 2004 the need for well-funded and targeted assistance programmes to help countries put in place modern and effective export controls emerged as a theme in the EU, the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations, the UN and the Wassenaar Arrangement. There is a growing concern to improve the coordination of assistance programmes between regimes, organizations and countries. For the EU, increasing effectiveness will require better coordination between the parts of the Union which are responsible for different functions (e.g., EU border control, dual-use export control and external relations).


The EU has also reviewed its 1998 Code of Conduct on Arms Exports, a political undertaking that has become an important instrument for increasing transparency and harmonizing the criteria applied by member states when making national assessments of prospective arms exports. As a result of the review, changes will be made to the Code of Conduct in 2005.


One way to enhance the consistency of export controls for dual-use and defence-related items across the EU would be to develop structures to pool technical capacities and intelligence on end-use, and to establish joint training of licensing and enforcement officers in the EU. Such a training capacity could also be used for outreach activities and in assistance programmes for candidate countries, aspiring applicant countries, the European Neighbourhood Policy countries and beyond.

Dr Ian Anthony and Dr Sibylle Bauer