Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)

Fact Sheet
Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation
March 4, 2009

[Also: fact sheets on MTCR Questions and Answers and the Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation]

In 1987, seven concerned countries created the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) to restrict the proliferation of nuclear-capable missiles and related technology. The original participants in the Regime were Canada, France, West Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In 1993, the focus of the Regime was expanded to include missiles for the delivery of chemical or biological weapons (CBW) as well as nuclear weapons.

The Regime’s mandate was expanded in 2002 to include preventing terrorists from acquiring missiles and missile technology. In 2006-2007, the MTCR Partners (members) reiterated their support for UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1540, which inter alia mandates all UN Member States to exercise effective export controls over WMD, their means of delivery, and related materials. In 2008, the MTCR also recognized that more needs to be done to discourage development of delivery systems for WMD, and agreed to actively encourage more countries to adopt missile export controls consistent with MTCR standards.

The MTCR is not a treaty, but a voluntary arrangement among member countries sharing a common interest in controlling missile proliferation. MTCR Partners have committed to apply a common export control policy (MTCR Guidelines) to a common list (MTCR Annex) of controlled items, including virtually all key equipment and technology needed for missile development, production, and operation. The Guidelines and Annex are implemented by each Partner in accordance with its national legislation. In 2003, MTCR Partners made it a requirement that all members have "catch-all" export controls; these controls provide a legal basis to control the export of items not included on a control list when they are destined for a missile program.

The MTCR Guidelines restrict transfers of "missiles" -- defined as rocket systems (including ballistic missiles, space launch vehicles, and sounding rockets) and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems (including cruise missiles, target drones, and reconnaissance drones) capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction (WMD) -- and their related equipment and technology. The Regime places particular focus on unmanned delivery systems capable of delivering a payload of at least 500 kg to a distance of at least 300 km, so called "Category I" or "MTCR-class" systems.

The MTCR Annex of controlled items is divided into two sections:

Category I Annex items include complete rocket and unmanned air vehicle (i.e., "missile") systems, capable of delivering a payload of at least 500 kg to a range of at least 300 km, and their major complete subsystems, production facilities, and related technology. Exports of Category I items are subject to a strong presumption of denial, except that transfers of specially designed production facilities for Category I items are expressly prohibited.

Category II Annex items include propulsion and propellant components, launch and ground support equipment, various other missile-related components, and related technology, as well as certain other missile systems. Exports of Category II items are subject to case-by-case review against specified nonproliferation factors, and are subject to a strong presumption of denial if the system is intended for WMD delivery.

MTCR export controls are not bans but regulatory efforts by individual Partners to prevent transfers of items that could contribute to delivery systems for WMD. Licensing such exports is consistent with the MTCR’s goal of curbing the flow of missile equipment and technology worldwide.

The MTCR Guidelines are open to all nations to implement, whether or not they are MTCR Partners. The United States encourages all governments to unilaterally adhere to the Guidelines.

MTCR List of Partners (as of February 2008)

Argentina (1993)
Australia (1990)
Austria (1991)
Belgium (1990)
Bulgaria (2004)
Brazil (1995)
Canada (1987)
Czech Republic (1998)
Denmark (1990)
Finland (1991)
France (1987)
Germany (1987)
Greece (1992)
Hungary (1993)
Iceland (1993)
Ireland (1992)
Italy (1987)
Japan (1987)
Luxembourg (1990)
Netherlands (1990)
New Zealand (1991)
Norway (1990)
Poland (1998)
Portugal (1992)
Republic of Korea (2001)
Russian Federation (1995)
South Africa (1995)
Spain (1990)
Sweden (1991)
Switzerland (1992)
Turkey (1997)
Ukraine (1998)
United Kingdom (1987)
United States of America (1987)

Unilateral Adherents to the MTCR

Israel (1992)
Romania (1992)
Slovakia (1994)
Republic of Macedonia (2003)
India (2008)