Cablegate: Missile Technology Control Regime (Mtcr): Missile


DE RUEHC #8749 2661601
P R 231541Z SEP 09

S E C R E T STATE 098749


E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/23/2034

Classified By: ISN/MTR Deputy Director Ralph Palmiero.
Reasons: 1.4 (B), (D), (H).

1. (U) This is an action request. Please see paragraph

2. (C) ACTION REQUEST: Department requests Embassy
Paris provide the interagency cleared paper "Missile
Proliferation Trends" in paragraph 3 below to the French
Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) Point of Contact
(POC) for distribution to all Partners. Info addressees
also may provide to host government officials as
appropriate. In delivering paper, posts should indicate
that the U.S. is sharing this paper as part of our
preparation for the Information Exchange that will be
held in conjunction with the MTCR Plenary in Rio,
November 9-13, 2009. NOTE: Additional IE papers will be
provided via septels. END NOTE.



Missile Proliferation Trends

In the following presentation, we provide an
overview of missile proliferation trends that the United
States has identified over the last several years.

Proliferation of Short-Range, Solid-Propellant Missiles

A key trend in recent years has been the
proliferation of short-range, solid propellant ballistic
missile systems with range and payload capabilities below
the MTCR Category I threshold. A number of countries,
including many with well-established liquid propellant
missile programs, have sought to acquire short-range,
solid propellant missile systems. These systems are
attractive because of their increased availability on the
international market, their accuracy, and their ease of
handling as compared to liquid propellant systems. In
addition, short-range, solid propellant missiles also
require less preparation prior to launch, less
maintenance, and can be stored for longer periods of time
than liquid-fueled missile systems.

Decline of New Interest in Scud-Derived Technology

The growing interest in short-range solid-propellant
missiles for many countries also is related to an
emerging missile proliferation trend -- a decline in new
governments seeking to acquire Scud-type short-range
ballistic missiles, such as those marketed by North
Korea. Decreased sales of Scud-based missiles and
technology is in part due to efforts by MTCR countries to
promote missile nonproliferation and discourage new
missile customers, as well as the effect of United
Nations sanctions. Potential new customers may also
calculate that more accurate, short-range solid-
propellant missiles are a better investment and more
readily available than Scud technology, which is known
for its poor accuracy and requires the purchase of
extensive support equipment. (Note: While North Korean
exports of complete Scud-derived missile systems may have
declined in recent years, North Korea likely does
continue to provide Scud maintenance and refurbishment
services to previous Scud missile customers.)

China as a Key Source of Solid Propellant Missiles

Another reason may be that purchasing countries
seeking a Category II SRBM capability can work fairly
easily and above board with less disreputable arms
suppliers such as China, rather than deal with a state
such as North Korea that has been internationally
recognized as a proliferator and is subject to United
Nations Security Council sanctions. For example, China
has supplied a short-range, solid-propellant missile
system to at least one former missile customer of North
Korea and is marketing the P12 and B611M solid propellant
systems to customers in the Middle East, Africa, and
South Asia. The P12 is advertised as having a 150-km
range with a 450 kg warhead, and the B611M is marketed as
a 260-km-range system that carries a 480-kg warhead.
Although these missiles are below the MTCR Category I
threshold, sales of these systems are likely to
accelerate the diffusion of sophisticated and previously
unavailable solid propellant missile technologies to
regions of tension.

Parallel Space Launch Vehicle and Ballistic Missile
Development Efforts

Another key missile proliferation trend has been for
countries seeking to develop long-range missiles to
establish developmental programs for space launch
vehicles (SLVs). SLVs and ballistic missiles are derived
from virtually identical and interchangable technologies,
and the similarities between SLVs and ballistic missiles
extend from subcomponents to production facilities. SLV
programs can allow a country to test propulsion systems,
stage separation, and some guidance and control
technology, and provide a path to gain access to
controlled, missile-related technologies and materials
under the guise of peaceful space ambitions.

North Korea

A clear example of a country attempting to mask its
missile development efforts behind an SLV program is
North Korea. On April 5, 2009, North Korea tested a
multi-stage Taepo Dong-2 (TD-2) missile, which it
characterized as an effort to place an "experimental
communications satellite" into orbit. This test failed
to place an object into orbit, but demonstrated North
Korea's development of technologies such as stage
separation that are applicable to longer-range ballistic
missile systems. In the case of the April 2009 test, few
countries accepted North Korea,s claim that the TD-2
launch was simply an activity carried out as part of a
peaceful space program. This was reflected in the United
Nations Security Council,s adoption of a Presidential
Statement on April 13, 2009 that condemned this launch as
being in contravention of Security Council Resolution
1718, which requires North Korea to suspend all
activities related to its ballistic missile program.


Iran has established an SLV program that complements
and advances its missile development. For many years,
Iran has had active MTCR Category I ballistic missile
programs. These programs helped establish a technology
base that assisted Iran,s development of an SLV known as
the Safir, which successfully placed a small satellite
into orbit in February 2009. Although currently the
Safir is restricted to very small payloads, Iran,s
ability to place a satellite into orbit has demonstrated
several technical capabilities applicable to longer-range
ballistic missile systems, including staging, clustering
small engines, and using gimbaled engines for control of
the Safir,s second stage. As such, Iran,s SLV program
remains a key concern, as many technologies required for
this program will directly benefit Iran,s long-range
ballistic missile development efforts.

The Role of Front Companies

Increased Use of Intermediaries

Proliferators, reliance on cover companies has been
well-documented at annual MTCR Information Exchange
meetings. Proliferation-related transactions now
regularly involve multiple layers of intermediaries,
resulting in deals that are more difficult for export
control officials to detect. The challenges posed by the
use of multiple intermediaries were illustrated in a 2008
U.S. Information Exchange presentation, which provided an
overview of a three-year effort by Iran,s solid
propellant ballistic missile program to procure
environmental test chambers from foreign sources. In
that case, Iran used at least six different
intermediaries and front companies, listed false end-
users and false countries of destination, and used
complicated routing to avoid export control regulations,
in an effort to purchase the test chambers from two
manufacturers in two foreign countries. Ultimately,
this attempt was unsuccessful, but this example shows the
intricacy of Iran,s efforts -- and its willingness to use
multiple intermediaries -- to procure a single commodity
required for its missile development programs. Similar
tactics have been adopted by Syria,s missile program,
which in 2009 used two false intermediaries to target
companies in at least four different MTCR Partner
countries in an effort to acquire uncontrolled imaging
equipment suitable for missile testing. Such use of
multiple intermediaries to facilitate procurement is
likely to continue as long as programs of concern remain
dependent on foreign suppliers and experience difficulty
procuring missile-related technology due to export
control restrictions.


In recent years, the role of cover companies in
assisting procurement by proliferation programs has
expanded. These entities not only pose as end-users for
controlled and dual-use missile technologies, but they
also have become involved in brokering, shipping, and
financing. Brokering has become particularly critical to
procurement efforts by missile programs of concern.
Brokering entities regularly orchestrate proliferators,
purchases of controlled and dual-use equipment and often
are the only party to a transaction in direct contact
with both the supplier and end-user. While brokers can
be located in the supplier country, a transshipment
state, or within the recipient country, many base their
operations in countries through which purchased goods are
never physically shipped. For example, from an office
within an MTCR Partner country, a broker could coordinate
a missile-related purchase on behalf of an Iranian front
company from a supplier in China. To further complicate
the transaction, the broker could arrange for the export
to be routed through an intermediary in the UAE,
Singapore, or Malaysia, making it more difficult for
export control authorities to link the broker to the
ultimate end-user or the commodity to a program of

Commercial Industries as a Procurement Cover

Most intermediaries assisting proliferation related-
procurement are not overtly affiliated with government-
owned entities. In fact, many are engaged in legitimate
commercial activities. In the case of Iran, commercial
enterprises often are used as a cover through which dual-
use items are purchased. These firms, primary functions
are as commercial manufacturers or distributors, and the
use of such entities by programs of concern provides a
seemingly plausible end-use for dual-use and controlled
items. This in turn helps these transactions avoid
detection from licensing and export control officials in
supplier countries.

One example of this trend has been in Iran,s
continuing use of the automotive industry as a
procurement cover for its missile programs. Stating that
commodities are intended for automobile manufacturing
allows Iran a means of purchasing a variety of dual-use
goods, particularly specialty metals and industrial
machine tools, which could have utility in the automobile
sector, but which also often are diverted to support its
missile production and development efforts.

Intermediaries Operating in Malaysia

Front companies and intermediaries involved in
missile-related procurement often operate in countries
with weak export control oversight and enforcement. This
continues to be the case in Malaysia, which, as noted in
an Australian presentation from the 2008 MTCR Information
Exchange, increasingly serves as a procurement hub for
missile-related goods and technology. Malaysian entities
act as brokers and false end-users for items intended for
missile-development organizations in third countries.
Over the past several years, companies in Malaysia
repeatedly have attempted to procure a variety of
aerospace-qualified electronics from the U.S. and other
MTCR Partner countries on behalf of military- and
missile-related end-users in Iran. It also appears such
companies in Malaysia are expanding their procurement
operations, regularly using multiple cover names and
fraudulent end-user documentation, and routing their
transactions through additional intermediaries to conceal
the ultimate destination of an export. This trend of
missile-related intermediaries basing their procurement
operations in Malaysia is largely the result of
Malaysia,s lack of a comprehensive export control system
due to its government,s concern that efforts to improve
its export controls will impede international trade.
Until robust controls are put in place, Malaysia, as well
as other countries without effective export controls,
will continue to attract proliferation-related
intermediaries seeking to evade the export control
systems of supplier countries.


Each of the trends identified above poses challenges
to international efforts to prevent missile
proliferation. They also demonstrate that the missile
proliferation threat is not static and will continue to
evolve as technology progresses, becomes more widely
available, and as proliferators develop more
sophisticated methods to evade export control
restrictions. All of these trends underscore the
importance of effective export control systems -- in both
MTCR and non-MTCR countries -- that are able to detect
proliferation-related transactions and ensure that
transfers of missile technology are licensed in a
responsible manner that limits proliferation risks.
Meeting these challenges will require MTCR Partners to
continue to work together, and with key non-Partners, to
ensure the MTCR continues to effectively respond to the
evolving nature of global missile proliferation.


4. (U) Please slug any reporting on this or other MTCR
issues for ISN/MTR. A word version of this document
will be posted at

© Scoop Media

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