Ballistic missiles and conventional strike weapons: Adapting the HCoC to address the dissemination of conventional ballistic missiles

By Stéphane Delory

HCoC Research Paper n°6, January 2020

The Hague Code of Conduct aims at curbing the proliferation of missiles capable of carrying weapons of mass destruction. Today, with an important increase in ranges, these weapons are more and more used for a conventional mission, by a variety of states. This dissemination illustrates the fact that many stakeholders master the technologies necessary to build and sustain these weapons. But  it also raises questions on the possible destabilising effect of these arsenals, even when they are not linked to WMDs.

This paper develop the factors that have led to a reconsideration of the use of ballistic missiles for conventional strikes, and evokes possible ways for the HCoC to react to this evolution.

Specifically, it proposes three options for the HCoC. First, it could continue to draw attention to the proliferation of missiles, regardless of their vocation. Second, an extension of the scope of the Code could be considered, which could extend its field of action to include regional security and stabilisation. Third, the Code could focus less on the delivery vehicle itself and more on the payload, enabling it to refer to all missiles carrying WMDs. This final proposition is described as more complex but potentially interesting as it would provide for regulation of emerging technologies such as hypersonic glide vehicles.

Download the paper in PDF (English / French).