Assessing Ballistic Missile Proliferation and Its Control

In recent years, world attention has been drawn to the acquisition by developing countries of delivery systems for nuclear weapons as distinct from the nuclear warheads themselves. In particular, concerns have been raised about the spread of ballistic-missile systems and technologies to areas such as theMiddle East, in which there are strong regional tensions.  The extensive use of ballistic missiles in the "war of the cities" in 1988 during the Iran-Iraq War and the use of Scud missiles by Iraq against Israel and Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm highlighted the rapid proliferation of these weapons, and served as a premonition of worse things to come if and when developing states deploy ballistic missiles armed with weapons of mass destruction.  The ballistic missiles of concern have ranges of a hundred to a few thousand kilometers (km) and can carry payloads of up to one or two thousand kilograms (kg). These systems are becoming increasingly prominent in Third World arsenals, and are perceived as threatening stability and regional military balances.

This study examines the impact of ballistic-missile proliferation, focusing on sixteen regional states which have or soon could have ballistic-missile capabilities.  Specifically, the study: (1) evaluates the military effectlveness of ballistic missiles in comparison with advanced strike aircraft, (2) identifies trends in the supply of and demand for ballistic missiles, (3) identifies key technologies and systems whose control is essential to a successful missile non-proliferation regime, (4) reviews the relevancy and effectiveness of present control mechanisms including the MlssiIe Technology Control Regime (MTCR), and (5) offers policy options for strengthening controls on the acquisition by developing states of longer-range ground strike delivery systems, including ballistic missiles and advanced combat aircraft.