Embargo on unconventional arms

In August 1948, the UN Commission on Conventional Armaments formulated what is considered the authoritative definition: “WMD are atomic explosive weapons, radioactive material weapons, lethal chemical and biological weapons, and any weapons developed in the future which have characteristics comparable in destructive effect to those of the atomic bomb or other weapons mentioned above”.

The United Nations imposed proliferation sanctions against South Africa under paragraph 4 of resolution 418 in 1977, against Iraq under paragraphs 8 a) and b) and 12 of resolution 687 in 1991, and under resolution 1051 in 1996, and in 2006 against the DPRK and Iran. Unlike the early regimes against South Africa and Iraq, the subsequent WMD embargo under resolutions 1718 for the DPRK and 1737 for Iran are substantially strengthened.

Specifically, now there are lists drawn up by international bodies specializing in WMD arms control that describe with considerable technical details prohibited items, technologies, components and information:

The language pertaining to the embargo on dual use equipment in the DPRK is characteristically vague and contained in resolution 1718, paragraph 8 a) (ii):

“All items, materials, equipment, goods and technology as set out in the lists

in documents S/2006/814 and S/2006/815, unless within 14 days of adoption

of this resolution the Committee has amended or completed their provisions

also taking into account the list in document S/2006/816, as well as other

items, materials, equipment, goods and technology, determined by the Security

Council or the Committee, which could contribute to DPRK’s nuclear-related,

ballistic missile-related or other weapons of mass destruction related programmes;”

Certain restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities will remain in force until the IAEA submits a report confirms the Broader Conclusion while other nuclear-related transfers may be approved on a case-by-case basis by the Security Council. A dedicated “procurement channel”, operated by the Procurement Working Group of the Joint Commission is responsible to regulate transfers of items, materials, equipment, goods and technology required for Iran’s nuclear activities under the JCPOA.

Through this procurement channel, the Security Council will review and decide on recommendations from the Joint Commission regarding proposals by States to participate in or permit nuclear-related activities set forth in paragraph 2 of Annex B of resolution 2231 (2015) and following procedures specified in Annex IV of the JCPOA.

Contingent upon case-by-case approval by the Security Council States may participate in the supply, sale, transfer of or related provision of financial assistance of all items, materials, equipment, goods and technology set out in INFCIRC/254/Rev.12/Part 1 and INFCIRC/254/Rev.9/Part 2 (or relevant successor documents)

States also require Council approval for the provision of any financial assistance , investments and related services, or financing of activities involving uranium mining or production or use of nuclear materials and technology as listed in INFCIRC/254/Rev.12/Part 1, (or relevant successor documents)
Certain restrictions continue to apply – until the IAEA submits a report confirming the Broader Conclusion – in regards to ballistic missile-related transfers and activities. Paragraph 4 of Annex B of resolution 2231 (2015) stipulates that approval in advance on a case-by-case basis by the Security Council may be required for the supply, sale or transfer of:

  • all items, materials, equipment, goods and technology set out in S/2015/546;
  • any items, materials, equipment, goods and technology that the State determines could contribute to the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems; and
  • the provision to Iran of any technology or technical assistance or training, financial assistance, investment, brokering or other services, and the transfer of financial resources or services, or Iran’s acquisition of an interest in any commercial activity in another State, related to the supply, sale, transfer, manufacture or use of the items, materials, equipment, goods and technology of above referenced items or those related to the activities described in paragraph 3 of Annex B.