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12. Controls on security-related international transfers


I. Overview

II. The control of international transfers of proliferation sensitive items

III. Supply-side measures in the European Union

IV. Trade cooperation agreements for military items

V. Conclusions

Table 12.1. Membership of multilateral weapon and technology transfer control regimes, as of 1 January 2009


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States meet in various forums to discuss how to maintain effective export controls on items that may be used in nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, and missile delivery systems for them. The main export control regimes are:


  • the Australia Group (AG),
  • the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR),
  • the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), and
  • the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-use Goods and Technologies (WA).


In 2008 the NSG modified the way in which supplier guidelines are applied to exports of controlled items to India by stepping back from its previous agreement that the application of comprehensive International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards would be an objective condition of supply.


These decisions and initiatives are eveidence that export controls are gradually evolving away from a system based on clear rules for general application and towards a system in which the controls are tailored for different categories of countries. The most powerful participating states in the NSG believe that there is a political imperative to strengthen ties with India and most countries with leading nuclear industries are convinced that there are compelling economic and environmental arguments for engagement and cooperation with India.


In 2008 the European Union (EU) finally adopted an updated and strengthened version of the politically binding 1998 EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports as a legally binding common position. The decision incorporates several important changes into a set of Common Rules Governing Control of Exports of Military Technology and Equipment that EU member states are obliged to implement nationally. These changes to EU export control rules and procedures inside the EU in 2008 highlight the general importance of dedicating sufficient resources to implement and enforce export controls across the EU.


Several initiatives to develop simplified procedures to facilitate the movement of defence goods and articles within trusted communities have been made in recent years. The first is the development of new rules to facilitate the movement of defence goods inside the EU. The second is the attempt, so far unsuccessful, to bring into force bilateral treaties that have been signed between Australia and the USA and between the UK and the USA. These treaties require ratification in the US Senate before entry into force.



Dr Ian Anthony (UK) is SIPRI Research Coordinator and Leader of the SIPRI Arms Control and Non-proliferation Programme.


Dr Sibylle Bauer (Germany) is Head of the Export Control Project of the SIPRI Arms Control and Non-proliferation Programme.

Dr Ian Anthony and Dr Sibylle Bauer