What is MTCR?

• It is an informal and voluntary partnership established in 1987 among 35 countries to prevent the proliferation of ‘missile’ and ‘unmanned aerial vehicle’ technology capable of carrying above 500 kg payload for more than 300 km.

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• In simple language, it aims to “prevent proliferation of missile/UAVs capable of carrying weapons of mass destruction by putting curbs on their export.”

• In 1992, the MTCR’s original focus on missiles for nuclear weapons delivery was extended to a focus on the proliferation of missiles for the delivery of all types of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), i.e., nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Such proliferation has been identified as a threat to international peace and security. One way to counter this threat is to maintain vigilance over the transfer of missile equipment, material, and related technologies usable for systems capable of delivering WMD.


• The MTCR has 35 members with India being the latest member.


• China is not a member of MTCR, although it put in its application in 2004. It s because several member nations have concerns about China’s dubious proliferation record in supplying missile technology to countries like North Korea, Pakistan and Iran.

How does the MTCR achieve its objectives?

Export Controls The Regime rests on adherence to common export policy (the Guidelines) applied to an integral common list of items (the MTCR Equipment, Software, and Technology Annex.)

Meetings MTCR Partners regularly exchange information about relevant missile non-proliferation issues in the context of the Regime’s overall aims.

Dialogue and Outreach The MTCR Chair and MTCR Partners undertake outreach activities to non-Partners in order to keep them informed about the group’s activities and to provide practical assistance regarding efforts to prevent the proliferation of WMD delivery systems.

Critical Analysis

Achievements: MTCR has been successful in helping to slow or stop several ballistic missile programs.

Limitations: Countries within the MTCR have been known to violate the rules clandestinely. China, North Korea, Israel, Iran and Pakistan continue to advance their missile programs which have deployed medium-range ballistic missiles. China and Israel have even deployed ICBMs.


• MTCR is supplemented by the International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (ICOC)

Established in: 2002.


1. To prevent the proliferation of ballistic missiles.

2. HCOC does not ban ballistic missiles, but it does call for restraint in their production, testing, and export.

• It thus works parallel to the MTCR with less specific restrictions but with a greater membership (over 110).

• India joined it in June 2016.

Significance of India’s MTCR membership

India became its member in June, 2016 with the consensus of other nations. India has been allowed to retain its ballistic missiles able to deliver a 500 kg payload at least 300 km.

Membership of MTCR is significant to India due to various reasons:

Boost to Indian defence:

1. MTCR membership will enable India to buy high-end missile technology and also enhance its joint ventures with Russia.

2. By joining MTCR, the chances of US exporting Category 1 UAVs, Reaper and Global Hawk to India have increased.

India as arms exporter:

1. India will be able to sell BrahMos, a development that would make India a significant arms exporter for the first time.

2. India had for long eyed Israel's Arrow II theatre missile defence interceptor to develop an indigenous ballistic missile system but couldn't do so because of MTCR's norms. Now, with a ticket to the MTCR in its possession, India will be able to defend itself against Chinese and Pakistani missiles. 

3. India will be able to buy surveillance drones from abroad like the American predator drones. The US may also provide UAVs, Reaper and Global Hawk that are used in counter-terrorism efforts.

Contribution to global proliferation:

o MTCR membership has made India a partner in the international struggle against proliferation of WMD missile technology. 

A step forward for NSG:

1. This certifies that India has evolved a strong legal, regulatory and enforcement infrastructure to regulate export of missiles and missile technology.

2. All 34 members of MTCR are members of the NSG. Thus India is assured of support of these 34 members in its quest for NSG membership. China is not a member of MTCR).


India becoming a member of MTCR is expected to pave the way for increased defence trade and technology transfer. India's own technology which will be developed or made under the flagship programme of 'Made in India' which will see free movement out of the country and may boost the programme in return.

  2. Multilateral Export Control Regime: An Introduction

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