The development and proliferation of cruise and ballistic missiles, in particular long-range missiles, is of great concern to Australia and many other countries. Missiles with a range of 300km or greater, capable of carrying a load weighing 500kg or more, are suitable vehicles for the delivery of weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, biological or chemical weapons). Missile development and proliferation destabilises regional security, particularly in areas of tension, with flow-on effects for global security. Concerned countries use different means to combat the trend towards increased development and proliferation of missiles. One effective way of doing this is through the imposition of national export controls.
The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)
The Missile Technology Control Regime was established in 1987 with Australia joining in 1990. The aim of the regime is to limit WMD proliferation by controlling the export of missiles or unmanned aerial vehicles systems as well as equipment and technology for the development or production of such missiles and systems. MTCR members do this by applying common export licensing measures to a list of sensitive items contained in the MTCR Equipment and Technology Annex. MTCR controls are not intended to hinder cooperation in civil space projects.
Australia hosted the 2008 Missile Technology Control Regime Plenary in Canberra and was chair of the MTCR for 2008-2009.
International Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (ICOC)
The International Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (ICOC), also known as the Hague Code of Conduct (HCOC), was formally brought into effect on November 25, 2002, at a Launching Conference hosted by the Netherlands at The Hague. Australia participated in the conference and is one of 93 original subscribing states to the ICOC. The Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs acts as the Immediate Central Contact point for HCOC as there is no permanent secretariat or implementing organisation. Annual meetings of Subscribing States are held in Vienna.
The ICOC is aimed at bolstering efforts to curb ballistic missile proliferation worldwide and to further delegitimise such proliferation. The Code is a politically, rather than legally, binding document focused on broad principles and unlike the MTCR its membership is not restricted. It calls for greater restraint in the development, testing, use and spread of ballistic missiles. It does not inhibit states from owning ballistic missiles nor from benefiting from the peaceful use of outer space. But to increase transparency and reduce mistrust among subscribing states, it introduces confidence-building measures such as annual reporting on missile programmes and the obligation to announce ballistic missile and space launches in advance. The Code is intended to supplement, not supplant, the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), and is administered collectively by all of the Subscribing States.