States Meet to Discuss Ballistic Missile Code of Conduct
Wagner, Alex, Arms Control Today
IN AN EFFORT to stem further missile proliferation, 86 countries met in Paris February 7-8 to discuss a proposed draft "code of conduct" that would offer confidence-building measures to states willing to restrain their ballistic missiles programs.
Currently, there is no international prohibition against development or deployment of ballistic missiles. When finalized, the code would create a series of general, voluntary political commitments under which states would agree to exercise restraint in developing, testing, and deploying ballistic missiles and would also pledge "necessary vigilance" in curbing assistance to space-- launch programs that could advance missile development.
In return, the code, which would be open to all countries, would offer adherents increased transparency in missile systems and programs and other confidencebuilding measures. If subscribing states also pledged to eliminate their ballistic missile programs and commit to forgo future missile development efforts, the code would "provide on a voluntary and caseby-case basis" unspecified incentives, "as appropriate."
Many experts have questioned how the code will be able to attract key subscribers absent specific incentives to undertake such a commitment. However, a European diplomat expressed other ambitions, saying that it is hoped that the code, which he termed a "modest initiative," would create "a norm against missile proliferation."
Members of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)-a voluntary regime that seeks to restrict proliferation by limiting its members' missile exports-conceived of the code in 1999 as a means to address the demand for missiles. MTCR adherents finished a draft code at a September 2001 plenary session, where France offered to chair a future conference to discuss and unveil the proposal.
The Paris meeting offered states a forum to review the code and to discuss the broader issue of missile proliferation in a multilateral forum. Those attending included almost all the world's possessors of ballistic missile systems, including the United States, all EU member states, Russia, China, Iran, India, and Pakistan. …