Stealing the Sword: Limiting Terrorist Use of Advanced Conventional Weapons

By James Bonomo; Giacomo Bergamo et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOUR
What Opportunities Exist for Controlling
Weapons of Particular Concern?

Given the potential hazard of some advanced conventional weapons should they be diverted into terrorists’ hands, mechanisms for denying or limiting the utility of such weapons are clearly desirable if they do not interfere excessively with the military utility of advanced conventional weapons. The established mechanisms for controlling the use of weapons by unauthorized users are known by the term use controls. Use controls can be thought of as a collection of procedural, technical, and policy tools that arrayed together can limit access to, and ability to use, advanced conventional weapons. Some controls are focused on preventing the underlying technology from being transferred, e.g., the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Other methods focus on limiting the lifetime of weapons (potential MANPADS control) and others focus on limiting the ability to use a weapon (the best example of this being the introduction of permissive action links to the nuclear forces). In all cases, the key to effective use of these control mechanisms is their early application before the technology becomes widespread and effectively uncontrollable. To understand use control, it is necessary to understand what exactly we are talking about in terms of use controls, where they might be applicable, and how they work in practice.


Types of Use Controls

The term use control captures a large number of very different approaches for limiting the ability of unauthorized personnel to gain access to, or to

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