Preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction the role of the OSCE in support of UNSCR 1540

We may not have certainty to what extent terrorists seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction, but the consequences of an attack would be horrible, says Adriana Volenikova, Associate Project Officer in the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre (CPC). We must do what we can to keep these weapons out of their reach.

Since 2010, Adriana has managed projects that support OSCE participating States with the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 (2004). The Resolution aims to prevent individuals and terrorist groups from laying their hands on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. In the past few years, the OSCE has supported Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan with the development of UNSCR 1540 National Action Plans that set priorities for the implementation of the resolution. Now, the focus of its assistance is on building capacity in export and border controls

UNSCR 1540 requires states to control the export and transit of any materials and ingredients that could be exploited for the manufacture of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. These goods must be determined and named in control lists so that their production, use, storage and transport can be regulated. While the process may seem relatively straightforward, it raises issues related to the so called dual use items � products and technologies, which are normally used for civilian purposes but may also have military applications.

Dual use items can be difficult to control because their use is perfectly legitimate and innocuous in a commercial setting but dangerous in a military context. High strength steel for example is a material that is commonly utilized in construction or the automotive industry. It can, however, also be used for uranium enrichment centrifuges, explains Anton Martyniuk, a non proliferation expert. An example of a chemical dual use good is chlorine: It is a widely used solvent and keeps swimming pools free from bacteria but it can become a devastating chemical weapon when used for military purposes.

Dual use goods are regulated through an export control regime, a policy area that typically involves many different governmental authorities, from licensing authorities, ministries of economy, trade, foreign affairs, defense, to customs and intelligence agencies. The OSCE supports the organization of joint meetings for all these agencies to develop legislation and agree on a division of labour and operating procedures for information exchange.

Equally important is co ordination at the regional level because the efficiency of export control ultimately depends on a consistent application. Mossinkoff explains that: Non proliferation controls must be implemented by all states to avoid that non state actors try to shop for dual use items until they find a supplier with porous domestic controls. Fostering regional co operation in implementing UNSCR 1540 is an important step in making sure that states work together to control supply chains across borders.

In Central Asia, the OSCE supports a regional approach to UNSCR 1540 implementation by bringing together licensing, customs and other governmental authorities from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. In roundtable discussions and workshops, they develop streamlined procedures for the development of control lists, the transit of controlled commodities and exchange of information on licensing and risk. In co operation with the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) and the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific, the OSCE holds regional peer review meetings at which countries in the region can see how others have enacted the provisions of UNSCR 1540 and learn from their practices.

Once the legislation and procedures are in place, the challenge of operational implementation begins. Much of the OSCE's focus in the area of UNSCR 1540 is therefore on capacity building, be it by training frontline border and customs officers to detect chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials at border checkpoints, or by supporting national education and training institutions to prepare staff for the practical implementation of the legislative and regulatory frameworks related to the resolution.

In some cases, the capacity building work is complemented with the provision of physical protection or detection equipment, such as in Tajikistan where the OSCE supplied radiation detectors and dosimeters for the identification and detection of nuclear and other radioactive materials at the border.

2019 marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of UNSCR 1540 and much progress has been achieved in terms of its application. At the same time, the international community cannot rest on its laurels, as Adriana underlines: We must ensure that our current achievements are sustained and deepened and that we can adapt to new proliferation challenges that may emerge. Implementing UNSCR 1540 in order to prevent non proliferation will require our continued attention and the OSCE remains committed to playing its part in the OSCE area.

Source: OSCE Secretariat, Forum for Security Co operation