Missile proliferation constitutes a serious threat to international security. Even though the number of missiles has strongly declined since 1987, the five nuclear powers’ intercontinental ballistic missiles remain a global threat. Moreover, several other states are trying to widen the range of their launchers. About 75 countries possess tens of thousands of cruise missiles. Some 500.000 man portable air defence systems (MANPADS) are in circulation and at least 27 organisations labelled as terrorists could possess some. Rockets, the most basic missiles, also have horrendous consequences. Last but not least, new carriers are being developed, e.g. unmanned aerial vehicles.
However, the international mechanisms set up to control the missiles – potential vehicles of nuclear, chemical or biological loads- are not really binding or comprehensive. Stemming arms flows should not be insurmountable, as only a limited number of countries possess them. Preventive measures, aiming at strengthening and broadening the current regimes, would then be an adequate solution. They could range from specific regional agreements to an extension of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Treaty, in order to make it a multilateral and universal instrument. Nonetheless, defensive options – ballistic missile defence or armed civil aircrafts – are a factor in the proliferation which could lead to a new arms race. Texts and initiatives to reduce and control ballistic missiles proliferation, for instance the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Hague Code of Conduct, are especially taken into account.