“The fact that eCustoms internally develops, tests and then uses their systems in their own Customs brokerage group was an indicator that the product was reliable and the right fit for our organization.”


Multilateral Nonproliferation (Export Control) Regimes and Arrangements are voluntary and nonbinding arrangement of major supplier countries, aiming to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery means, related equipments and technology.

There are four multilateral export control regimes (the U.S. is a member of each): the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG); the Australia Group (AG); the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR); and the Wassenaar Arrangement (WA). The NSG contributes to the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, the AG aims to minimize the risk of assisting proliferation of biological and chemical weapons, MTCR works toward nonproliferation of unmanned delivery systems capable of delivering WMD, and the WA promotes transparency and responsibility in transfer of both conventional weapons and sensitive dual-use goods and technology. In each regime, controlled items are specified in a control list and include goods (equipment, materials etc.), software and technologies.

Australia Group (AG)
Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)
Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)
Wassenaar Arrangement (WA)

In addition, Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) requires all States to “take and enforce effective measures to establish domestic controls to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons and their means of delivery, including by establishing appropriate controls over related materials and to this end shall: establish, develop, review and maintain appropriate effective national export and trans-shipment controls over such items, including appropriate laws and regulations to control export, transit, trans-shipment and re-export …”

Nonproliferation Regimes and Arrangements

Other export control international organizations and instruments of note include:

Zangger Committee
The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

Finally, of note is the U.S. led initiative:

Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI)

The Australia Group (AG)

The Australia Group (AG) is an informal forum of countries whose objective is to ensure that the industries of the participating states do not assist, either purposefully or inadvertently, states or terrorists seeking to acquire a chemical and/or biological weapons (CBW) capability.

All AG participants exercise national export control over items listed on the AG control list, and it is said that coordination of national export control measures assists participants in complying with the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC).

The origins of the Australia Group

In early 1984, a United Nations investigation team found that Iraq had used chemical weapons (CW) in the Iran-Iraq war in violation of the 1925 Geneva Protocol, and that at least some of the precursor chemicals and materials for its CW program had been sourced through legitimate trade channels. In response, several countries introduced export controls on certain chemicals that could be used to manufacture CW.

These controls suffered from a lack of uniformity, and it became apparent that attempts were being made to circumvent them. This led Australia to propose a meeting of the countries with export controls with the aim of harmonizing their national licensing measures and enhancing cooperation. The first meeting of what subsequently became known as the Australia Group took place in Brussels in June 1985. At that meeting, the 15 participating countries and the European Commission agreed that there was value in exploring how existing export controls might be made more effective to prevent the spread of CW. The Group has met regularly since then, and annual meetings are now held in Paris. The scope of the export controls discussed by the Group has evolved to address emerging threats and challenges. Evidence of the diversion of dual-use materials to biological weapons programs in the early 1990s led to participants’ adoption of export controls on specific biological agents. The control lists developed by the Group have also expanded to include technologies and equipment which can be used in the manufacturing or disposal of chemical and biological weapons.

Australia Group participants

The number of countries participating in the Australia Group has grown from 15 in 1985 to 40 plus the European Commission. They include: Argentina, Republic of Korea, Australia, Latvia, Austria (1989)
Lithuania (2004)
Belgium (1985)
Luxembourg (1985)
Bulgaria (2001)
Malta (2004)
Canada (1985)
Netherlands (1985)
Croatia (2007)
New Zealand (1985)
Republic of Cyprus (2000)
Norway (1986)
Czech Republic (1994)
Poland (1994)
Denmark (1985)
Portugal (1985)
Estonia (2004)
Romania (1995)
European Commission (1985)
Slovak Republic (1994)
Finland (1991)
Slovenia (2004)
France (1985)
Spain (1985)
Germany (1985)
Sweden (1991)
Greece (1985)
Switzerland (1987)
Hungary (1993)
Republic of Turkey (2000)
Iceland (1993)
Ukraine (2005)
Ireland (1985)
United Kingdom (1985)
Italy (1985)
United States (1985)

Australia Group common control lists

All participants have licensing measures over 63 chemical weapons precursors. Participants also require licenses for the export of specific:

  • Chemical weapons precursors
  • Dual-use chemical manufacturing facilities and equipment and related technology and software
  • Dual-use biological equipment and related technology and software
  • Biological agents
  • Plant pathogens
  • Animal pathogens

The above items form the basis for the Group’s ‘common control lists’, developed during Australia Group consultations and adjusted from time to time.

The Missile Technology Control Regime

The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) is an informal association of countries which share the goals of non-proliferation of unmanned delivery systems capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction, and which seek to coordinate national export licensing efforts aimed at preventing their proliferation.

MTCR partners have committed to apply a common export policy (MTCR Guidelines) on a common list of controlled items, including all key equipment and technology needed for missile development, production, and operation. MTCR Guidelines restrict transfers of missiles—and technology related to missiles—for the delivery of WMD. The regime places particular focus on missiles capable of delivering a payload of at least 500 kg to a distance of at least 300 km—so-called “Category 1” or “MTCR-class” missiles.


The MTCR was originally established in 1987 by Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. Since that time, the number of MTCR partners has increased to more than ninety countries, all of which have equal standing within the Regime. MTCR partner countries are keen to encourage all countries to observe the MTCR Guidelines on transfers of missiles and related technology as a contribution to common security. A country can choose to adhere to the Guidelines without being obligated to join the group, and a number have done so.

The MTCR was initiated partly in response to the increasing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), that is, nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. While concern has traditionally focused on state proliferators, after the events of 11 September 2001, it became evident that more also has to be done to decrease the risk of WMD delivery systems falling into the hands of terrorist groups and individuals.

MTCR decisions are taken by consensus with partners regularly exchanging information about relevant national export licensing issues. A Plenary Meeting is held annually and chaired on a rotational basis. In addition, inter-sessional consultations take place monthly through Point of Contact meetings in Paris, while Technical Experts Meetings are held on an ad hoc basis.

Controlled goods

The MTCR rests on adherence to common export policy guidelines (the MTCR Guidelines) applied to an integral common list of controlled items (the MTCR Equipment, Software and Technology Annex). The Regime’s controls are applicable to certain complete rocket systems including ballistic missiles, space launch vehicles (SLVs), and sounding rockets as well as unmanned air vehicle (UAV) systems including cruise missiles, drones, UAVs, and remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs).

National export licensing measures on these technologies make the task of countries seeking to achieve capability to acquire and produce unmanned means of WMD delivery much more difficult. As a result, many countries, including all MTCR partners, have chosen voluntarily to introduce export licensing measures on rocket and other unmanned air vehicle delivery systems or related equipment, material and technology.


MTCR partners have agreed that, in a manner consistent with their national laws and practices and when relevant under the MTCR Guidelines and other existing undertakings, partner countries should obtain the following undertakings before the transfer of a controlled item:

  • a statement from the end user specifying the use and end use location of the proposed transfer, if necessary accompanied by documents explaining its business activities and organization;
  • an assurance explicitly stating that the proposed transfers will not be used for any activities related to the development or production of delivery systems for WMD; and
  • where possible and if deemed necessary, an assurance that a post shipment inspection may be made by the exporter or the exporting government.

Partners have also agreed that partner countries should obtain assurances that their consent will be secured, in a manner consistent with their national law and practices, prior to any retransfer to a third country of the equipment, material or related technology or any replica thereof.

The MTCR and the International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (the Hague Code of Conduct)

The MTCR has made efforts to reduce global missile proliferation, recognizing the growing international consensus that could be directed into practical action to reduce this threat. Against this backdrop, MTCR partners initiated the process that resulted in The Hague Code of Conduct.

In 1999, MTCR partners began consultation to this end, initially internally and then with non-MTCR states. They agreed in Ottawa in 2001 to universalize the draft text through a transparent and inclusive negotiating process open to all states, severing in the process the Regime’s connection with the Code. France hosted the first negotiation session, which was attended by participants from more than 70 countries. Spain hosted the second session, by which time the participants had grown to more than 90 countries. The Code was launched in The Hague in November 2002 and now has 130 subscribing states.

The Hague Code of Conduct is open to voluntary subscription by all countries. It provides subscribing states with a forum for promoting ballistic missile non-proliferation. As the first multilateral arrangement on missiles, it complements the important, ongoing work of the MTCR and the many other tools countries use to promote missile non-proliferation.

Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)

The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), with 45 member states, is a widely accepted, mature, and effective export-control arrangement, which contributes to the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons through implementation of guidelines for control of nuclear and nuclear-related exports.

The NSG Guidelines are implemented by each member in accordance with its national laws and practices, and decisions on export applications are taken at the national level in accordance with national export licensing requirements.

History of the NSG

The NSG was created following the explosion in 1974 of a nuclear device by a non-nuclear-weapon State, which demonstrated that nuclear technology transferred for peaceful purposes could be misused. The NSG Guidelines were published in 1978 to apply to nuclear transfers for peaceful purposes to help ensure that such transfers would not be diverted to unsafeguarded nuclear fuel cycle or nuclear explosive activities.

At the 1990 NPT Review Conference, a number of recommendations were made by the committee reviewing the implementation of Article III, which had a significant impact on the NSG’s activities in the 90s. In 1992, the NSG decided to establish Guidelines for transfers of nuclear-related dual-use equipment, material and technology (items which have both nuclear and non-nuclear applications) which could make a significant contribution to an unsafeguarded nuclear fuel cycle or nuclear explosive activity. Guidelines were published as Part 2 of INFCIRC/254, and the original Guidelines published in 1978 became Part 1 of INFCIRC/254.

Current members include: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Republic Of Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and United States. The European Commission participates as an observer.

NSG guidelines

The NSG guidelines aim to ensure that nuclear trade for peaceful purposes does not contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices which would not hinder international trade and cooperation in the nuclear field. They provide the means whereby obligations to facilitate peaceful nuclear cooperation can be implemented in a manner consistent with international nuclear non-proliferation norms.

Guidelines for nuclear transfers

The first set of NSG Guidelines (INFCIRC/254, Part 1) governs the export of items that are especially designed or prepared for nuclear use. These include: (i) nuclear material; (ii) nuclear reactors and equipment therefor; (iii) non-nuclear material for reactors; (iv) plant and equipment for the reprocessing, enrichment and conversion of nuclear material and for fuel fabrication and heavy water production; and (v) technology associated with each of the above items.

Guidelines for transfers of nuclear-related dual-use equipment, materials, software and related technology

The second set of NSG Guidelines (INFCIRC/254, Part 2) governs the export of nuclear related dual-use items and technologies, that is, items that can make a major contribution to an unsafeguarded nuclear fuel cycle or nuclear explosive activity, but which have non-nuclear uses as well, for example in industry.

contribution to an unsafeguarded nuclear fuel cycle or nuclear explosive activity, but which have non-nuclear uses as well, for example in industry.

The Wassenaar Arrangement

The Wassenaar Arrangement (full name: “The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies”) is a multilateral export control regime with 40 participating states established to contribute to regional and international security and stability by promoting transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of arms and sensitive dual-use goods and technologies to prevent accumulations. Note that technologies include the information and know how—whether in tangible form, such as models, prototypes, drawings, sketches, diagrams, blueprints, or manuals, or intangible form, such as training, technical service or other assistance—that can be used to design, produce, manufacture, utilize, or reconstruct goods, including computer software and technical data.

Restricted technologies

The Wassenaar Arrangement’s list of restricted technologies consists of two parts, the “List of Dual-Use Goods and Technologies” (also known as the Basic List) and the “Munitions List”. The Basic List is composed of ten categories based on increasing levels of sophistication, and has two nested subsections: a Sensitive List and a Very Sensitive List. Items on the Very Sensitive List include materials for stealth technology, equipment that can be used for submarine detection, advanced radar, and jet enginetechnologies. The Munitions List has 22 categories.

Participating countries

The participants of the Wassenaar Arrangement include: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States.

Zangger Committee

The purpose of the Zangger Committee, the “Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Exporters Committee”, is to harmonize implementation of the NPT requirements to apply International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards to nuclear exports. The Committee maintains and updates a list of equipment and materials that may only be exported if safeguards are applied to the recipient facility (called the “Trigger List” because such exports trigger the requirement for safeguards.)

As circumstances change with respect to the use of nuclear technology, it is the Zangger Committee’s mission, within the framework of the NPT, to take account of changing security aspects and to adapt export control conditions and criteria.

Of particular note here is Article III, paragraph 2, of the NPT which is concerned with the use of nuclear material and equipment. It provides that: “Each State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to provide: (a) source or special fissionable material, or (b) equipment or material especially designed or prepared for the processing, use, or production of special fissionable material, to any non-nuclear-weapon State for peaceful purposes, unless the source or special fissionable material shall be subject to the safeguards required by this article.

Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)

The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (CWC) aims to eliminate an entire category of weapons of mass destruction by prohibiting the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons by State Parties. These countries, in turn, must take the steps necessary to enforce that prohibition in respect of persons (natural or legal) within their jurisdiction.

All countries have agreed to chemically disarm by destroying any stockpiles of chemical weapons they may hold and any facilities which produced them, as well as any chemical weapons they abandoned on the territory of other countries. Countries have also agreed to create a verification regime for certain toxic chemicals and their precursors to ensure that such chemicals are only used for purposes not prohibited.

A unique feature of the CWC is its incorporation of the ‘challenge inspection’, whereby any country in doubt about another country’s compliance can request the Director-General to send an inspection team. Under the CWC’s ‘challenge inspection’ procedure, countries have committed themselves to the principle of ‘anytime, anywhere’ inspections with no right of refusal.

Organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons (OPCW)

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC or Convention). The OPCW is given the mandate to achieve the object and purpose of the Convention, to ensure the implementation of its provisions, including those for international verification of compliance with it, and to provide a forum for consultation and cooperation among States Parties.

Member states

The OPCW Member States already represent about 98% of the global population and landmass, as well as 98% of the worldwide chemical industry. A state becomes a State Party, and thereby a member of the Organization, by one of three means—ratification, accession or succession. Instruments of ratification, accession or succession must be deposited with the designated Depositary of the Convention, who is the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

International Atomic Energy Agency

The IAEA is the international enter of cooperation in the nuclear field. It was set up as the world´s “Atoms for Peace” organization in 1957 within the United Nations. The Agency works with Member States and multiple partners worldwide in its mandate to promote safe, secure and peaceful nuclear technologies.

The Department of Safeguards, one of five IAEA departments, carries out the duties and responsibilities of the IAEA as the world’s nuclear inspectorate, performing a role in global efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. The purpose of the safeguards system of the Agency is to provide credible assurance to the international community that nuclear material and other specified items are not diverted from peaceful nuclear uses.

Organizational profile

The IAEA Secretariat is a team of 2200 multi-disciplinary professional and support staff from more than 90 countries. Headquartered in Vienna, it has operational liaison and regional offices in Geneva, New York, Toronto, and Tokyo, and runs or supports research centers and scientific laboratories in Austria, Monaco, and Italy.

Member states of the IAEA

Eighteen ratifications were required to bring the IAEA’s Statute into force on 29 July 1957. The IAEA currently has 151 Member States.

Proliferation Security Initiative

The Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) is a voluntary U.S.-led multinational initiative involving the interdiction of third-country ships on the high seas on the basis of carrying nuclear materials.

The primary role of PSI participants is to abide by a Statement of Interdiction Principles, with the primary purpose of interdicting subject weapons and materials. Participants commit to establish a more coordinated and effective basis through which to impede and stop WMD, their delivery systems, and related items. Additionally, participants are to enact legal statutes to facilitate effective interdiction and seizure of such items. Finally, participants are to take measures to ensure that their national facilities are not utilized to transfer illicit weapon cargoes.


The idea of the PSI was developed by John R. Bolton, former U.S. Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, after 15 Scud missiles found on board a North Korean freighter had to be released when it turned out that international law did not allow them to be confiscated. The PSI was announced on May 31, 2003.


The PSI has over 90 member nations, including Russia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Singapore and Norway. Among countries opposed to the PSI are China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Iran, who dispute its legality.

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