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Non-proliferation, disarmament and arms control


The 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 delivering a payload of 500kg or more, are suitable vehicles for the delivery of weapons of mass destruction. Missile 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 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 (MTCR) was established in 1987 by the G-7 industrialised countries – Japan, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, UK and the US. Australia joined in 1990. The aim of the 35-country regime is to limit WMD proliferation by controlling the export of missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles systems, and equipment and technology used for the development or production of such missiles and systems. MTCR Partners 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 nor legitimate trade. The MTCR convenes annual Plenary meetings and France hosts the annual MTCR Reinforced Point of Contact (RPOC) Meeting.

Australia hosted the 2008 MTCR Plenary in Canberra and was chair of the MTCR from 2008-2009. Australia continues to engage in consultations on the MCTR, including by attending the 2019 Plenary meeting in Auckland.

International Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCOC)

The International Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation, also known as the Hague Code of Conduct (HCOC), was formally brought into effect on 25 November 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 HCOC. 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 HCOC 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 Missile Technology Control Regime (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 introduced confidence-building measures such as annual reporting on missile programmes and the obligation to notify of ballistic missile and space launches in advance. The Code is intended to supplement, not supplant, the MTCR, and is administered collectively by all Subscribing States.

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