Current Trends in Ballistic Missile Proliferation

HCoC Issue Brief – September 2020

By Emmanuelle Maitre and Lauriane Héau, FRS

The main objective of the Hague Code of Conduct against ballistic missile proliferation (HCoC) is to limit the spread of these highly destabilising weapon systems, which remain to this day preferred vehicles for carrying weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). Since the inception of the Code in 2002, ballistic missile proliferation has evolved in many ways. While proliferation cases have diminished quantitatively, transfers continue to take place through different channels, and an increasing number of countries have developed domestic missile production capacities.

In brief
Around 30 states hold ballistic missiles today. All current nuclear-weapon possessor states have acquired missile production capacities to enhance their nuclear deterrence.

Ballistic missile transfers are currently strictly restricted by the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Under the regime, the main missile provider is the United States, which has sold in particular the short-range MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATacMS) to some of its partners.
Proliferation concerns remain, especially in the Middle East and towards non-state actors.

To circumvent scrutiny or export control mechanisms, an increasing number of states have become missile producers, which poses new challenges in the fight against missile proliferation.

Download the paper in PDF: English version / French version.