China and the MTCR

In his book The Hundred Year Marathon, Michael Pillsbury spends several pages discussing China’s role in and attitude toward the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).  I was one of the first people to work on what became the MTCR, because President Jimmy Carter had several people who wanted to create something like the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to limit the proliferation of missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.  I was a junior officer working in the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research INR), State’s small intelligence operation that works with the other intelligence organizations, such as the CIA and NSA.  I became the main person in INR working on the issue.  When Carter was defeated by Reagan, the Carter people who had been working on the issue left, and when the Reagan people arrived, I was one of the few people who knew anything about the issue.  It took about ten years, but eventually the MTCR came into being as an international agreement.  It is not a treaty that limits missiles, but an export control regime that limits trade in things that problem nations like North Korea and Iran could use to develop their own missiles.

Pillsbury says that when the US offered to increase space cooperation with China in 1998, China refused the offer.  China was more interested in exporting missiles to rogue states that in cooperating with US.  China has agreed to abide by the MTCR standards, but it is not a member.  When the MTCR first offered China membership, China declined to formally join.  Later China offered to join, but the MTCR demurred because it was not sure that China would abide by its rules.

 

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