The proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and their delivery systems has been recognised by successive British Governments as a major threat to the country’s interests. Internationally, those concerns have been manifested not least through the UK’s support for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and the Missile Technology Control Regime. Since the Cold War, the UK has had a range of mechanisms to prevent or limit proliferation and sensitive technology transfers. In this Chapter, we describe the current UK counter- proliferation machinery in relation to countries of concern and non-state actors such as terrorist groups.
4.2 DEPARTMENTAL RESPONSIBILITIES
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is responsible for advice on all aspects of counter-proliferation policy including treaties and conventions, sanctions and export control policy.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is responsible for the implementation of the UK’s international obligations relating to the Chemical Weapons Convention and the International Atomic Energy Agency, and, through the Export Control Organisation (ECO), for processing all applications for export licenses. The DTI is also responsible for export control legislation and contributes to the formulation of general policy on United Nations sanctions.
The Ministry of Defence is responsible for the defence response to nuclear, chemical and biological threats and ensures that defence considerations are taken into account in the Government’s counter-proliferation policy. The Defence Intelligence Staff provides detailed advice across the full range of counter-proliferation issues, including technical analysis of weapons, production programmes, delivery systems and procurement networks.
HM Customs and Excise are responsible for the enforcement of export licensing controls including the investigation and prosecution of suspected offences.
Within the Cabinet Office, the Joint Intelligence Committee, supported by the Assessments Staff, provides strategic national intelligence assessments which inform counter-proliferation policy decisions. The Head of the Defence and Overseas Secretariat of the Cabinet Office is responsible for co-ordinating policy on counter-proliferation across Whitehall through the Counter-Proliferation Committee (CPC), which he chairs.
The CPC is the principal co-ordination mechanism for strategic counter-proliferation policy. It was formed in July 2002, bringing together policy and operational issues that had