Opening Statement on the Oslo Plenary of the Missile Technology Control Regime

Oslo, 1 October 2014

- Norway is prepared to work focussed and devoted, and continue to cooperate closely with all MTCR Partners in the year ahead – as well as further promote missile non-proliferation and global security through dialogue with non-members, said State Secretary Hans Brattskar in his opening address at the MTCR meeting in Oslo.

Check against delivery

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

It is with great pleasure I welcome you all to Oslo. I hope you will be able to enjoy some of what the city has on offer in between meetings – though I understand that you have a busy Agenda and extremely important issues to discuss and deal with.

The policy of non-proliferation is a longstanding objective of Norway’s foreign policy – and during its 27 years of existence, the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) has been instrumental in preventing and curbing proliferation of ballistic missile technology, as well as substantially having served to delay emerging programs of concern. MTCR has proven to be a key component of the global non-proliferation regime, and Norway is honoured to be taking on the Chair of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) for the second time since we joined the regime in 1990.

People from 34 countries were gathered at the MTCR meeting in Oslo.
Delegates from 34 countries were negotiating at the MTCR meeting in Oslo. (Photo: MFA)

The regime is particularly important and exceptional, being the only multilateral forum where missile non-proliferation issues and control standards are discussed.

In the run-up to the first Oslo-plenary in July 1992, the international security situation also had a serious backdrop. The world community had just witnessed Iraqi forces use of chemical weapons against the Kurdish village Halabja in the north-east Iraq, leaving approximately 5.000 civilians killed. During the Gulf War in 1990-91, Iraq sent rockets targeting neighbouring countries. At the time, there was information that some countries with ballistic missile capacity also had access to chemical and/or biological weapons.

Agreement in Oslo 1992

These serious developments led to agreement in Oslo in 1992 to extend the scope of the MTCR Guidelines to rockets and unmanned air vehicles capable of delivering all types of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). With this decision, the control of ballistic missiles includes, in addition to nuclear warheads, also means capable of delivering chemical and biological weapons. This was a major contribution to our common non-proliferation efforts.

Another decisive strengthening of our Guidelines, which also derived from terrible actions and events, was when the MTCR in 2002 agreed to make terrorism an explicit focus of the Regime.

Today, threats posed by weapons of mass destruction and missiles capable of delivering these weapons, continues to be a grim reality. While MTCR-Partners’ export control mechanisms without doubt have served to delay missile programmes of concern, we know that sensitive programmes still are alive and even developing.

With the serious security situation and instability emerged in the past few years, we are all facing great challenges in our non-proliferation efforts. I believe that we as MTCR Partners have a particular responsibility in fulfilling both our objectives through enforcing an effective national export control, as well as making sure that the Regime remains relevant both technically and politically. We must continue to share experiences and information about sensitive programmes and procurement activities targeting our industries and technological environments. We must assure that the Regime will continue to be able to respond to proliferation trends and threats in an adequate and timely fashion.

Consensus decisions require a certain degree of compromise. I would therefore take this opportunity to stress the importance of maintaining flexibility and trust among ourselves when it comes to decision time and fulfilment of our shared MTCR-objectives and commitments. We must not forget or neglect that the control standards of the Regime is highly acknowledged by regional and multilateral organizations, especially by the UN Security Council, as well as many States not members of the MTCR. We must not underestimate our role as those who establish high control standards in the field of missile non-proliferation.

Serious changes and threats

I strongly believe that we cannot succeed without the support of and cooperation with non-Members and relevant organizations. I can assure you that we will continue to reach out to non-members and relevant organizations in the coming year as a matter of priority. There are potential supplier countries who are not members, but that have committed to base their export control on MTCR standards. It is important to continue to support these adherent countries in the best possible way.

A number of countries are knocking on our door applying for membership. I trust us to make the best eligibility assessments and decisions on the individual applicants, and at the same time maintain and uphold the MTCR as a positive example of mutually and beneficial multilateral cooperation when it comes to preventing missile proliferation and by this contributing to international security in all its’ aspects.

The world is confronting real and serious changes and threats, and the ongoing missile development programmes and proliferation activities of, in particular, countries in the Middle East and Asia, are a clear reminder of the seriousness and important work that still lies ahead of us. New challenges are present, and I am pleased that you for the first time will discuss the risks posed by intangible technology transfers, such as knowledge acquired at our universities or research establishments, at plenary level here in Oslo.

I would take this opportunity to recognize Ambassador Carlo Trezza of Italia for his leadership in the last year, as well as France for being the central point of contact (POC)and the Chairs’ of the Expert Groups for their continuous efforts and hard work for the benefit of us all. Devoted individuals and Partners are decisive for the Regime’s effectivity and reputation. Burden sharing in this way also is a question of solidarity, and that all Partners will continue to take on responsibilities through various initiatives and activities, including chairing the Regime’s work in the future.

Finally, Norway is prepared to work focussed and devoted, and continue to cooperate closely with all MTCR Partners in the year ahead – as well as further promote missile non-proliferation and global security through dialogue with non-members.

You have a busy agenda in the next days, and important decisions to make. I am convinced that the meeting will be in the very best hands with Ambassador Roald Næss at the steering wheel. It is with my deepest appreciation that I declare the Oslo Plenary opened – and I wish you all the very best in your endeavours.