The independent resource on global security

15. Controls on security-related international transfers


I. Introduction

II. The control of international transfers of proliferation-sensitive items

III. Supply-side measures in the European Union

IV. The impact of UN sanctions against North Korea and Iran on export controls

V. Conclusions


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In 2006 the United Nations Security Council adopted resolutions restricting access by Iran and North Korea to international supplies of certain proliferation-sensitive items. These resolutions form part of the overall effort to persuade Iran and North Korea to change their national nuclear policies in order to achieve nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament goals supported by the international community. However, if they are to be effective, the restrictions laid down by the Security Council will require all UN member states to apply their national export controls.


The number of countries that participate in informal groups to strengthen national export controls has grown continuously since the mid-1990s. The states that participate in these groups have all adopted national legislation to ensure that proliferation-sensitive items are assessed and authorized by national authorities prior to export. However, participation in this cooperation is far from universal. The number of participants in the relevant groups ranges from 34 partners in the Missile Technology Control Regime to 45 partners in the Nuclear Suppliers Group.


Law enforcement communities have recently begun to strengthen their cooperation under the Proliferation Security Initiative in an attempt to impede and stop illegal shipments of proliferation-sensitive items. This cooperation could help to ensure that illegal shipments of proliferation-sensitive items do not reach their intended end-users in cases where it has not been possible to prevent export.

Dr Ian Anthony and Dr Sibylle Bauer