Norway takes over chairmanship of the Missile Technology Control Regime

Norway is at the forefront of efforts to prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. On 1 October, Norway took over the chairmanship of the international Missile Technology Control Regime.

Norway is at the forefront of efforts to prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. On 1 October, Norway took over the chairmanship of the international Missile Technology Control Regime.  

Norway will chair the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) for the next year. The MTCR is made up of 34 partner countries from every continent. These countries work together to develop high licensing standards to prevent the proliferation of missiles that can deliver weapons of mass destruction. Controlling exports of sensitive goods and technology is non-proliferation in practice. It is therefore important, long-term work that Norway will be leading over the next year. 

The Government actively supports international processes and measures to reduce conflict and thus promote stability and security worldwide. Export control is not always visible but this work is no less important for that reason. 

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Norway will have the MTCR chairmanship next year.

The MTCR meeting in Oslo this week will be held against a backdrop of dramatic events that illustrate what a serious threat these weapons represent. We have seen horrific pictures of the effects of chemical weapons used against civilians in Syria. Syria has since signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, and Norway, together with several other countries, has helped to remove and destroy Syria’s declared weapons and equipment. However, we also known that various actors in the Middle East and Asia may have weapons programmes. The fact that North Korea and Iran are developing and have tested missiles that can deliver weapons of mass destruction is cause for considerable concern.

Armed conflict and terrorist attacks feature prominently on the international news. We frequently witness terrible events and suffering as a result of hostilities. Some countries pick and choose when it comes to compliance with international law and commitments. Non-government actors often have little regard for either. This creates huge problems, and makes it particularly important to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and missiles that can deliver such weapons. 

Today, the international cooperation on control of trade in sensitive goods and technologies is more important than ever for global and regional stability and security. 

Common export control policy

The multilateral export control regime was established in 1987, when the seven largest Western countries – the G7 – agreed to implement a common export control policy for delivery systems for nuclear weapons. Under Norwegian leadership in 1992, agreement was reached on extending the regime to include all types of weapons of mass destruction, including chemical and biological weapons. This was a historic decision, but it followed a series of tragic events. In 1988, Iraqi forces had used nerve gas against the Kurds in northeast Iraq, killing some 5 000 people. During the Gulf War from 1990 to 19991, Iraq had launched rockets against Saudi Arabia and Israel. There were also reports that certain developing countries had missile capacity and access to chemical and/or biological weapons. 

The MTCR is the only international forum where problems relating to the proliferation of missiles are discussed on a regular basis. The MTCR’s work is an important contribution to international peace and security. It is clear that the responsibility that exporting countries are taking by complying with the regime’s high licensing standards is making it more difficult and more expensive for state proliferators and non-government actors to develop or acquire delivery capacity for weapons of mass destruction. 

The multilateral export control regimes play a key role in the non-proliferation efforts, and it is a priority for Norway to be an active partner in this work to make the world more secure. We can see that export control is having a positive effect, but at the same time we are constantly being reminded that more needs to be done. 

Under Norway’s chairmanship, we will seek to further develop the MTCR as an effective export control and non-proliferation regime. We will give priority to dialogue with non-participating countries, including countries with important transit and trans-shipment facilities. We also attach importance to dialogue with industrial actors and academia on the threats involved when certain types of technology and knowledge fall into the wrong hands.