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Prof. Rebeccah Heinrichs interviews Hon. Christopher A. Ford on U.S. Policy and the Missile Technology Control Regime

During the afternoon of Friday, July 24th, at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., IWP Professor Rebeccah Heinrichs interviewed Dr. Christopher Ford on the recent United States policy reform in regards to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

Dr. Ford is the Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation, and he was welcomed back to the Hudson Institute for this interview. After being introduced by Professor Heinrichs, Dr. Ford gave a relatively short, but informative talk on the need for policy reform in the classification of aerial systems within the MTCR and on the recent U.S. policy reform in the classification of aerial systems. Dr. Ford mentioned that the MTCR’s guidelines have a technological benchmark from the 1980s era, so some aerial systems are treated as presenting more of a threat than necessary. For this reason, the U.S. had proposed adjustments to MTCR controls in order to change the category statuses of aerial systems. Due to the difficulty in reaching a conclusion to update the policy, the U.S. has decided to adjust its own national policy in which the strong “presumption of denial” in regards to Category 1 UAS transfers can be overcome, depending on the particular features of an unmanned aerial system. This policy has been decided upon with careful regard to MTCR guidelines.

Following Dr. Ford’s talk, Professor Heinrichs asked him various questions on this policy change and on the effects it should have, including topics such as China, supply changes, and the need for competitive strategy. They emphasized that this change in U.S. policy has been made with national discretion, but also with transparency. Dr. Ford remarked that, hopefully, this change will be an example of “how to think about the responsible exercise of national policy responsibilities in a regime that allows a considerable amount of discretion.”

In concluding the interview, Dr. Ford also mentioned that “we have done this within the MTCR regime in ways that are consistent with both its letter and its spirit.”

At IWP, Professor Heinrichs teaches a course on Nuclear Deterrence and Arms Control. She is a senior fellow at Hudson Institute.

Listen to this interview here.


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