The UN Regional Center for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific in Katmandu, Nepal.

The UN Regional Center for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific in Katmandu, Nepal.

Discussion Forum

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MTCR and 1540

Last year’s joint Conference co-organized by the Republic of Korea and the United Nations on Disarmament and Nonproliferation Issues took place on November 14-15, 2013, on the Korean Island of Jeju, and was dedicated mainly to the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1540. The Republic of Korea presently chairs the 1540 Committee. One of the items on the agenda was the enhancement of synergy and coordination between export control regimes and resolution 1540. I was invited as chairman of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), one of the three international “regimes” (along with the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Australia Group) whose aim is to curb the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery means.

During the discussions, participants pointed to the lack of multilateral norms regarding WMD delivery means. In spite of the fact that resolution 1540 considers the proliferation of ballistic missiles and other delivery systems a threat to international peace and security, no binding instrument nor any international organization comparable to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) or the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) exists to regulate them.

Participants also noted that the three regimes have been in place for over two decades but are not mentioned by resolution 1540 or other relevant UN documents. These bodies originally attracted suspicion because their memberships were not universal and were limited to a group of likeminded countries possessing specific missile technologies. Recent developments should make the export control regimes less controversial. Other international engagements that are not universal in scope have since entered into force. For instance, both the 1997 Ottawa Convention prohibiting anti-personnel landmines and the 2010 Oslo Convention prohibiting cluster munitions were originally established by limited numbers of likeminded countries. These arrangements have become legally binding and have gained significant membership.

The overwhelming majority of the original members of the nonproliferation regimes were Western countries, belonging mostly to the European Union and NATO. Today membership has been expanded or offered to states outside the Western world, including members of the Non-Aligned Movement. Although resolution 1540 does not mention the regimes by name, their endeavors are contemplated by paragraph 8, which calls upon states to “take cooperative action to prevent illicit trafficking in nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, their means of delivery, and related material.” The time has come, observed participants during the Jeju Conference, for the international community and the United Nations to revisit this issue. They must formally acknowledge that these regimes constitute part of the international cooperative action foreseen by resolution 1540, and thereby take advantage of the formidable technical expertise the regimes have amassed over the past decades.

The issue of enhanced cooperation among the export control regimes was also raised at Jeju. Participants recalled that ten years have elapsed since options for reforming multilateral regimes were discussed at a workshop organized in Copenhagen in 2003 by the Center for International Trade and Security (CITS) at the University of Georgia. The Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Australia Group, and the MTCR deal with different types of weapons (nuclear, chemical and biological, and delivery means), and their membership is not homogeneous. They face, however, many common “horizontal,” cross-cutting problems (such as brokering, transit and transshipment, and invisible technology transfers) and have similar enforcement instruments.

De facto harmonization is already in place because in many cases the same national delegates participate in all three groups’ meetings. But this is not always the norm and is no substitute for the enhanced cooperation foreseen at the Copenhagen workshop, where a possible merger of the three regimes was also considered. Jeju participants noted that resolution 1540, which puts proliferation of the three types of WMD and their delivery means in the same basket, has entered into force since then. The holistic approach introduced by this resolution should prompt the international nonproliferation and export control constituencies to revisit the issue of cooperation among the three WMD regimes—reducing duplication of effort while giving a new impulse to enhancing synergies among them.

Experts Gather in Republic of Korea to Chart Course

Since its inception in 2002, the annual United Nations-Republic of Korea Joint Conference on Disarmament and Nonproliferation Issues has served as one of the Asia-Pacific’s premier multilateral forums for discussing disarmament and nonproliferation issues. Known as the “Jeju Process,” this series of conferences has consistently delivered high-level, candid discourse on disarmament and nonproliferation issues at both the international and regional levels, and has sought to identify practical solutions to overcome them. Over the years, the diversity of participants has included senior government officials, independent experts and researchers, experts from international organizations, and civil-society representatives.

I am pleased to report that last year’s conference, held on November 14-15, 2013, focused significantly on UNSCR 1540 (2004) in advance of the tenth anniversary of its unanimous adoption by the UN Security Council. The conference brought together an impressive range of participants, including many experts on UNSCR 1540 implementation. Presentations covered a wide range of interesting topics that will shape the future implementation of UNSCR 1540, including emerging challenges, capacity-building, and export controls and their relationship with other control regimes.

Most importantly, there was significant discussion of practical steps forward on enhancing implementation. Participants stressed the importance of engaging with key stakeholders outside government, such as industry. They also proposed that the 1540 Committee focus on national 1540 implementation. In addition, new proliferation challenges from non-state actors were identified, particularly cyber-attacks, the prospects for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) terrorism, including the malicious use of radioactive materials for terrorist purposes, and bio-, nano-, and drone technologies. The relevance of developing a comprehensive CBRN security culture was emphasized. Related issues from the broader realm of nonproliferation were also discussed.

At the conference, I had the pleasure of presenting on UNSCR 1540-related activities that our UN Regional Center for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific (UNRCPD) plans to undertake in the near future. These activities may include: facilitating multilateral dialogue forums pertaining to the implementation of resolution 1540, helping states undertake reporting requirements, facilitating capacity building, and further engaging civil society, academia, and industry. In this context, UNRCPD has consulted widely on how the Regional Center can better assist states striving to implement this important resolution effectively. We look forward to keeping 1540 Compass updated.

Based in Kathmandu, Nepal, UNRCPD covers 43 states in the Asia-Pacific region. Our mandate is a broad disarmament agenda. Our activities focus on helping states achieve their peace and disarmament goals by providing substantive support in the form of forums for dialogue and capacity-building, through outreach activities, and by undertaking peace and disarmament education. Further information about our program of work can be found on our new website,

Preventing CBRN Transport: Added Benefits of 1540 Implementation

Panama is more aware than ever of the value of UNSCR 1540 implementation. On July 15, Panamanian authorities were alerted by American intelligence agents that a North Korean vessel, the Chong Chon Gang, would transit the Panama Canal while en route from Havana, Cuba, to North Korea. The initial intelligence claimed that the vessel was carrying drugs, so the ship was detained and searched by Panamanian anti-drug agents. Immediately after the detention of the vessel, the Cuban government notified Panama’s Foreign Ministry that the ship was only carrying 10,000 tons of sugar sold to the North Koreans. The information proved to be false, as subsequent searches under harsh tropical conditions led to the discovery of 2 MiG aircraft in perfect operating condition, 15 plane engines, 12 motors, live munitions, and radar control systems for missile launchers. In all, the search led to the discovery of 240 metric tons of weapons sent by the Cuban government to North Korea.

Pressured, the Cuban government said that the obsolete military equipment had been sent to North Korea for modernization and refurbishing. This information proved to be false. Panamanian intelligence services confirmed that the military equipment was part of a secret deal negotiated in Havana by the Cuban and North Korean governments in clear violation of the UN arms embargo. After the weapons were discovered, the vessel and its crew of 35 were detained and charged with arms trafficking because the weapons were not declared. The Panama Canal Authority levied a fine of $1 million against the North Korean government. After weeks of quiet negotiations and diplomacy, North Korea has agreed to pay the fine and the vessel and 32 crewmen will return to Havana. The captain, the second officer, and the political commissar will remain in Panama and face criminal charges. However, official sources say that these individuals will be pardoned by Panamanian president Ricardo Martinelli and allowed to return to North Korea.

The Panama Canal is open to vessels of all nations as long as they do not violate international laws. We have told the Cuban government that we hope that the Chong Chon Gang incident was one of a kind and that nothing like this will occur in the future. The $1 million fine levied by the Panama Canal Authority is a clear reminder that illegal activities will not be tolerated by the Panamanian government.

The seizure of the ship emphasizes Panama’s permissive attitude toward seagoing nations as long as they do not violate the arms embargo levied against North Korea and, more generally, UN resolutions as a whole. The successful interdiction further attests to the multifold benefits of compliance with UNSCR 1540, as adopting regulatory measures for preventing the transport of illicit CBRN-related materials has increased the overall capacity of the Panama Canal Authority for fighting illicit transport.

Seminar on CBRN Security in Vienna

The experience of Vienna-based organizations in this area provides a useful basis for efforts by international, regional, and subregional organizations, by NGOs, and also by states themselves, as these bodies aim at developing a comprehensive security culture. On October 8, 2013, the Permanent Mission of Hungary to the United Nations in Vienna, in cooperation with the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) and the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Nonproliferation (VCDNP), organized the second Seminar on Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Security, entitled “Developing a Comprehensive Security Culture.”

The seminar was also part of the “house gift” offered by Hungary at the second Nuclear Security Summit, held in Seoul in April 2012. At Seoul we committed to organize practical training courses for experts at our nuclear power plant in Paks, working in cooperation with the IAEA. The Vienna seminar sought to identify lessons-learned in the area of security culture, in an attempt to understand the implications of these lessons for the area of weapons of mass destruction. This effort may serve as a starting point for a more detailed examination of these issues, both furthering the objectives of UNSCR 1540 and resulting in an enhanced level of CBRN security overall.

Speakers at the seminar included Dr. Paul Walker, international program director for the Environmental Security and Sustainability Program, Green Cross International and Global Green USA. In his presentation, Dr. Walker emphasized the importance of responding to the combined challenges of instability, poverty, and environmental degradation to ensure a sustainable and secure future. Dr. Amy Smithson (senior fellow, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies) delivered two presentations that provided a global picture of biological and chemical threats, focusing on science, responsibility, and the risk of nonproliferation. Dr. Johannes Rath of the University of Vienna spoke about a comprehensive approach to ethics and security. The nuclear aspects of security culture were covered by Muhammed Khaliq from the IAEA Office of Nuclear Security and by Dr. Roger Howsley, director of the World Institute for Nuclear Security. Dr. Howsley focused on personnel training, certification, and accountability.

The seminar followed up on the International Conference on Nuclear Security, organized by the IAEA July 1-5, 2013, in Vienna. The conference was chaired by Foreign Minister János Martonyi of Hungary, and was a useful step in preparation for the third Nuclear Security Summit, to be held in The Hague in April 2014.

Is “R” Covered by 1540?

I was very interested to read the article by Enrico Fiorentini in issue no. 4 of 1540 Compass. I am glad to note that the author agrees that radiological material (the “R,” as he describes it) is covered under the obligations under resolution 1540 (2004). He maintains that this coverage comes through practice rather than being derived from the text of the resolution. However, it is clear from states’ reports to the 1540 Committee that they, from the start, considered the “R” part of the resolution.

The text of the resolution is deliberately broad. The term “related materials,” as defined in the footnote in the resolution, refers to nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and their delivery means, and does not get into detail about the nature of the materials and technologies that belong to each of the areas concerned. In the same way that precursor chemicals are intended to be covered, “nonnuclear” or radiological material is intended to be covered too.

The broad approach is exemplified in two paragraphs in the preamble, which provide a guide to the context and interpretation of the operative paragraphs. There the resolution makes clear that radiological materials fall within its purview. First, it refers to illegal trafficking. Second, it refers to the Convention of the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials and the IAEA Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources. The “R,” along with related chemical and biological materials, is definitely covered by operative paragraph 3, which specifies that “All States shall 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….”

Happily, there is no additional specification of “related material” beyond the definition in the footnote. It is not clear to me why the nuclear aspect should require more specifics than the chemical and biological aspects. This broad interpretation will last over time without being overtaken by scientific and technological advances.

In any case, as the author stresses, practice is what really matters. As far as states are concerned, there is no controversy over this issue. Their reports to the Committee make it clear that radiological material is covered.

By the way, I should clarify one reference in the article, which contends that “the experts have included language and measures in the national matrices that apply to a wide range of radioactive, non-nuclear materials….” This should not be seen as representing an interpretation by the 1540 experts. The information entered in the matrices is derived directly from reports from states and their officially published information, as approved by the 1540 Committee. States comprise the constituency that matters. As far as they are concerned, it seems that there is no “timidity,” at least with regard to the coverage of radiological material, as suggested by the author.

Terence Taylor
Coordinator,UNSCR 1540 Group of Experts

Views expressed in this letter are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of any organization with which he is affiliated.

1540 Committee’s Country Visit to the Republic of Korea

Country-specific visits by the 1540 Committee are an important means to facilitate full implementation of resolution 1540. They help in three ways. First, they help the Committee better understand how the resolution is being implemented by a particular state, thereby enabling the Committee to provide feedback necessary for more effective implementation. Second, they provide relevant government agencies with an excellent occasion to promote understanding of resolution 1540 and to exchange views with the Committee. Third, they are also an effective means for member states to share their best practices with the Committee and other states.

The Republic of Korea hosted a 1540 Committee country visit on November 18-19, 2013, with all three of these objectives in view. The joint meeting between the Committee and the relevant ministries and agencies of the ROK government on November 18 served as a good opportunity for the Korean government to provide the Committee with up-to-date information on its recent implementation of resolution 1540. The ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs conducted a briefing on Korea’s third implementation report, which contains comprehensive updates on Korea’s implementation of resolution 1540 over the past eight years, in particular its progress in the fields of export control, transshipment/transit control, and proliferation financing. The Committee in turn briefed the Korean government on the work, activities, and priorities of the Committee and its Group of Experts in recent years.

During the separate consultations with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Nuclear Security and Safety Commission, and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE), the Korean government and the 1540 Committee exchanged views about Korea’s national implementation action plan, including the overall direction for the drafting of the plan and its key elements. These consultations also served as a unique opportunity for MOTIE to share with the 1540 Committee Korea’s effective practices in the field of export control, including the online strategic trade information system (Yes-Trade), internal compliance program (ICP), and controls on the intangible transfer of technology (ITT).

Korea hopes that its 1540 country visit last November, the first among Asian countries, will serve as a good precedent for other states to follow. Approaching the tenth anniversary of resolution 1540, and as the chair of the 1540 Committee, Korea will continue to take the lead in promoting full and universal implementation of the resolution, including through such means as country visits, outreach events, a more effective mechanism for technical assistance, and active support for the activities of the 1540 Committee and its Group of Experts.

CBRN Security Culture and UNSCR 1540

Participants in the GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova) Roundtable in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The “GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova) Roundtable on building global security culture” was jointly organized by the Science and Technology Center (STCU) in Ukraine and the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA). This is the third activity by the two organizations to enhance the prospects for strengthening security culture within the GUAM countries. This Roundtable brought together diplomats, experts and high-level officials from across the region committed to work together to coordinate and strengthen their efforts.

The main focus of the of the Roundtable was to examine current CBRN security challenges and identify a common understanding of risks and prevention actions within the GUAM Region, as well as to develop comprehensive approaches to CBRN security culture through experts’ discussions with international and regional organizations. A good addition to the Roundtable itself was a practical exercise for developing nuclear security culture suggested by Dr. Igor Khripunov. Dr. Khripunov, a leading expert in CBRN security culture, noted that this comprehensive approach focuses on the human performance in several key 1540-related functional areas: security of relevant materials and associated facilities, strategic trade and trafficking control, cyber security, and knowledge management. These key functional areas have common cultural roots across the four “stovepipes,” i.e. chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) but also unique features specific to each.

It is also clear that in an era of mass communication and globalization, the widespread availability of such expertise has become another potential threat to global security. Therefore, under its mandate, the STCU is ready and committed to engage in these issues by assisting, coordinating and engaging knowledge redirection programs in the GUAM Region through close cooperation with other international and regional partners such as UNODA, IAEA, OCSE, and others.

A strategy to mitigate CBRN risks of criminal, accidental or natural origin requires cooperation and coordination between different national agencies as well as among countries and international and regional organizations. Lack of harmonization of national preparedness and fragmentation of responsibilities within the regional or international network reduce the effectiveness of prevention strategies and can delay response during a crisis.

We are confident that further implementation of CBRN security initiatives developed by the Science and Technology Center in Ukraine jointly with UNODA and other counterparts will further enhance international security and safety. We call upon our GUAM partner States to continue to strengthen their national measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery and materials and technologies related to their manufacture and to support respective international efforts in this sphere through multiple cooperative ties.

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