Plenary Meeting of the Missile Technology Control Regime – Noordwijk, the Netherlands – October 11 – 15 1999

From October 11 to 15, 1999 the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) held its 14th Plenary Meeting in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, in order to review and strengthen its efforts to prevent missile proliferation. The meeting, which marked the start of the Netherlands Chairmanship, was officially opened by Mr Jozias Van Aartsen, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

The MTCR was established in 1987 with the aim of controlling exports of missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction, as well as the relevant technology. Currently 32 countries participate in the MTCR. Through their coordinated efforts in the framework of MTCR they have contributed to a reduction of the global missile proliferation threat. In spite of these gains, however, international peace and stability continue to be confronted by programs of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. Recent developments in, inter alia, South and North East Asia and in the Middle East illustrate the need of continued vigilance. The fact that a number of these programs are increasingly indigenous in nature, poses an extra challenge. In addition, many of these missile programs seem to increasingly focus on longer range delivery systems, threatening countries both inside and outside the regions concerned, in turn possibly sparking off a new arms race.

Partners agreed that these developments call for a commensurate response from the MTCR, which, being the only existing multilateral forum solely dedicated to countering the threat of missile proliferation, has a key role to play in this respect. They renewed their commitment to combatting missile proliferation and to the strict implementation, and where necessary further strengthening, of their export controls for that purpose. They utilized the plenary for an in depth discussion on possible new, qualitative responses to face the new proliferation threats. Confidence and security building measures in the field of responsible missile behaviour were addressed in the course of these discussions, which will be continued in the spring.

The MTCR will increase its outreach activities in order to build support for its goals, to encourage non partners to observe the MTCR Guidelines and to consult on the broader aspects of missile non proliferation. In addition to their own bilateral contact, partners supported increased efforts by the MTCR Chair in promoting and conducting dialogue with non partners. In such cooperative approaches round tables and seminars with the participation of non partners would play an important role.

The Netherlands Chairmanship aims to continue the discussions initiated in Noordwijk with a view to formulating recommendations for further action in time for the next Plenary Meeting. The Plenary welcomed the offer of Finland to host the next Plenary Meeting in the fall of 2000 and to serve as Chair of the MTCR for the subsequent year.

Members: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States