Tag Archives: Non-Proliferation

Preventing the Proliferation of WMDs: Measuring the Success of UN Security Council Resolution 1540

Editors: Daniel Salisbury, Ian J. Stewart, Andrea Viski

Click here to access the book_Preventing the Proliferation of WMDs: Measuring the Success of UN Security Council Resolution 1540


This edited volume provides a fresh analysis for researcher and practitioners regarding United Nations Security Council resolution 1540, the status of its implementation, and its future by providing an original evaluation of progress in implementation and challenges faced during the resolution’s first decade. In doing so, the book will consider the resolution’s utility as a non-proliferation tool with a view to identifying what further actions are required for the objectives and goals embodied by UNSCR 1540 to be achieved and sustained.  The book progresses by exploring the history of the resolution, implementation trends, implementation from a regional perspective, challenges, and future ways forward. The book appeals to a wide readership of scholars, policymakers, and other stakeholders of the 1540 process.

Non-Proliferation and Foreign Direct Investment Reviews: Implications for Reform in the UK

Felix Ruechardt, Researcher (felix.ruechardt@kcl.ac.uk)

Click here to access the report: Foreign Investment Reviews and Non-Proliferation: Implications for Reform in the UK

In October 2017, the UK government published a Green Paper entitled “National Security and Infrastructure Investment Review” which outlined short-term and long-term proposals to reform the nation’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) review system. It currently rests on limited powers granted to the government in the Enterprise Act of 2002. By expanding the scope of its FDI review system, the government seeks to counter increased foreign (especially Chinese) investments into UK infrastructure and critical technology sectors.

However, the Green Paper does not address the role that an FDI review on national security grounds will take in enhancing the export control and non-proliferation regimes of the United Kingdom. While not dismissing the valid and important security concerns regarding critical infrastructure and critical technology sectors, this report emphasises the importance of including non-proliferation as a key function of a reformed FDI review system in the UK.

Using strategic FDI transactions has in the past been a successful stratagem by proliferation actors in the cases of the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programme of Iraq and the alleged WMD programme of Iran. This is demonstrated by three case studies in this report in which proliferation actors circumvented export control and non-proliferation rules by purchasing Western companies holding technologies of proliferation concern: Matrix Churchill (UK) and H+H Metalform (GER), two companies that were purchased by an Iraqi proliferation network in the 1980s, and MCS Technologies (GER), a company secretly bought by Iran in 2003. The UK government should use its current reform efforts to close this gap that remains an issue today.

FDI review systems that have non-proliferation as one of their functions are able to address this evasion strategy. Two allies of the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany, have successfully demonstrated this in their FDI review procedures. Both countries tie the powers to scrutinize FDI transactions and potentially block them to whether businesses manufacture goods or hold technologies that are subject to export control rules. In Germany, a stricter reviewing procedure and a mandatory notification regime even apply in these cases – something that is debated in the United States currently as well.

The UK government can learn from the abovementioned cases of FDI as a proliferation strategy as well as the systems the United States and Germany have put in place to counter said strategy. This report calls for it to:

  • Make non-proliferation a clearly stated function of the reformed FDI review system while not dismissing other key functions such as protecting critical infrastructure;
  • Base a mandatory notification regime for mergers and tightened rules on the Strategic Export Control Lists and companies who manufacture goods on those;
  • Refrain from excluding smaller companies from falling under the scope of an FDI review system as those companies are also increasingly holding proliferation-relevant technologies.

The direction of the reform process will to a certain extent of course depend on the outcome of the negotiations the UK government is currently holding with the other EU member states over their relationship after the UK leaves the EU bloc. But if the UK government strengthens the non-proliferation component of its FDI review reform proposals, those will set it on track to establish a system that is comparable to those in other countries that have national security based FDI reviews in place to date.

International Workshop on New Tools and Technologies for Non-Proliferation

The Spring workshop was hosted by the Vienna Centre for Disarmament and Non Proliferation  and brought together experts in the non-proliferation, artificial intelligence, data management and remote sensing fields to discuss the applicability of new tools and technology to aid non-proliferation work. 
A common theme within the first session, Advances in Remote Sensing, was the nexus between analyst and images and how best to represent the large imaging data available to non-proliferation analysts so that it is both accessible and optimally presented. The power of new imaging techniques beyond the optical spectrum and the importance of collaboration between the private industry and non-proliferation bodies were also discussed.  
The second session, Collection and Management of Unstructured Data, sought to identify challenges in the collection and management of unstructured data. Perhaps the most daunting and exciting challenge to the field of non-proliferation is how best to harness Artificial Intelligence to improve the workload and capability of analysts. Speakers discuss the exciting applications of AI in the form of machine learning, deep learning, semantic AI that can structure big data, extract highly relevant information, make predictions at expert levels, detect anomalies, perform network analysis and flag new information.  
The penultimate session, Applied Analysis of Unstructured Data, discussed how unstructured data can be analysed in a meaningful way and draws upon the themes of the previous section on data management. A commonality was the utility of network graphs as a useful tool to understand links between entities present in databases. The final presentation gave examples of how existing AI, deep learning and semantic AI tools can be used for data extraction and network creation in the non-proliferation field.
In this final session, Multimedia Information and Data Fusion, speakers discuss the use of multimedia information as a powerful tool for non-proliferation and the power of spatially orienting information. A commonality among the talks is the benefit of having a single integrated platform encompassing disparate types of dataMultimedia information and data fusion platforms must also be easily accessed and disseminated to enable collaboration and a deeper understanding of complex data sets.  
VCDNP Director, Laura Rockwood, concluded the afternoon by stating the first question for new technology should always be is it helpful and effective. Ms Rockwood went on to stress the that the real test is whether these technologies are politically acceptable, especially in the field and that safeguard work is nothing but its member states, whose consultation will always be a vital part of strengthening safeguards.