Weapons of mass destruction, WMDs, refer to nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Proliferation of WMDs is a serious concern and constitutes a threat to international peace and security. Several conventions and treaties have been concluded to prevent the spread of these weapons. In addition, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 is a vital element in global efforts to combat the proliferation of these weapons. Two other resolutions, 1673 and 1810, reiterate and reaffirm the obligations of Resolution 1540.
Finland is fully committed to the implementation of these conventions, treaties and resolutions. A number of legislative measures have been enacted by Finland to prevent the proliferation of WMDs.
These web-pages have been designed in order to raise awareness of the main problems linked with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and to make people familiar with the principal treaties in the field. The information package is a part of an awareness-raising project launched by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland and the relevant public authorities.
What is the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540?
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 was adopted in 2004. It tries to find an answer to the question on how to prevent terrorist groups from laying their hands on WMDs. Binding on all UN Member States, it urges them to take effective measures to prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Thus it obliges states to refrain from providing support to non-State actors that attempt to develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transport, transfer or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery. The Resolution imposes obligations to adopt effective laws and domestic controls to that effect.
Export control of dual use items
Export control is pursued with a view to establishing a policy of non-proliferation that prevents the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). The policy of non-proliferation is carried out by concluding international agreements and exercising multilateral cooperation related to export control. Export control covers both defence materiel and dual use items that are subject to legislation. Dual-use items mean items, including software and technology, which can be used for both civilian and military purposes, and include all goods which can be used for both non-explosive uses and assisting in any way in the manufacture of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. Export control is mainly based on the lists of international export control regimes.
Why export controls?
The control and restriction of the export of strategic goods and technology is closely linked with terrorism and the threat of the proliferation of WMDs. That is why there is a heightened need to control not only arms exports but also exports of dual-use items. It appears that pressures in that direction are more likely to grow than diminish. This may be conducive to an increasing number of goods subject to export authorisation and also a greater need to require authorisations, case by case, for non-listed items.
Effective export control is also necessary from the point of view of Finnish exporters. In international export control cooperation, control is necessary not only for security policy reasons but also because Finnish companies need to be ensured equal opportunities of exporting these often highly sophisticated technology products.
To observe international export control commitments and to take an active part in international cooperation related to export control.
To pursue an export licence policy that is based on the national legislation and international obligations and assessment of individual export licence applications case by case.
To consider, case by case, individual export companies' overall interests.
The purpose of control of nuclear material, that is, nuclear material safeguards, is to ensure that nuclear materials are not diverted from peaceful use to the production of nuclear weapons. The safeguards sys-tem is based on the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which came into force in 1970. The recognised five nuclear weapon States - the USA, Russia, France, China and Great Britain - have undertaken not to transfer nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices to any non-nuclear-weapon recipient or to in any way assist them in acquiring such devices. Non-nuclear-weapon States Parties to the Treaty have committed not to participate in any nuclear weapons projects. They also accept the international safeguards of the IAEA in all peaceful nuclear activities within their territory.
In February 2023, 191 countries had joined the NPT. Countries which are not parties to the treaty include Israel, India, Pakistan, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and South Sudan.
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)
Negotiations proposing a ban on all nuclear tests began in the UN Conference on Disarmament in 1982. The matter was prepared for a long time and finally in 1996, the UN General Assembly adopted the proposal on a comprehensive ban on nuclear testing. India, Bhutan and Libya were the only countries that objected to the decision. As of June 2009, 177 states have ratified and 9 more states signed but not ratified the Treaty. The Treaty enters into force when 44 states listed in an Annex to the Treaty have signed and ratified it.
Nuclear tests are made to ensure a nuclear weapon is functional. Thus the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) limits the proliferation of nuclear weapons effectively.
Chemical Weapons Convention
The CWC's aim is to eliminate an entire category of weapons of mass destruction by prohibiting the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons by States Parties. States Parties, in turn, must take the necessary actions to ensure that they comply with this prohibition by means of their legislation.
As of 20 Feb 2023, there are 193 State Parties and 4 States not Party. States not Party are Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Egypt, Israel and South Sudan.
In accordance with the Convention, any toxic chemical, regardless of its origin, is considered a chemical weapon unless it is used for purposes that are not prohibited. The phrase General Purpose Criterion is not in used in the Convention itself but it is regularly applied to describe the comprehensive nature of the Convention.
All States Parties have pledged to destroy any stockpiles of chemical weapons they may possess and any facilities which produced them, as well as any chemical weapons they abandoned on the territory of other States Parties in the past. States Parties have also agreed to create a verification regime for certain toxic chemicals and their precursors (listed in Schedules 1, 2 and 3 in the Annex on Chemicals to the CWC) and also for certain industrial chemicals (Other Chemical Production Facilities, OCPF) in order to secure that such chemicals are used only for purposes not prohibited.
All State Parties are obliged to submit annual declarations to the Organisation for the Prohibition of the Chemical Weapons, OPCW. These declarations on their activities related to the CWC are verified during systematic on-site inspections at a listed facility of a certain State Party (Article VI of the CWC). However, there is also a unique tool called a challenge inspection, whereby any State Party in doubt about another State Party's compliance can request the Director-General of the OPCW to send a team of international inspectors to the facility suspected of violation of the CWC. States Parties have committed themselves to the CWC's challenge inspection principle of 'any time, anywhere' inspections meaning that they have no right to refuse.
Finland has signed the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), also known as the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC). The BWC is the first multilateral disarmament treaty to ban an entire category of weapons. There are 184 States Parties and 4 Signatory States (as of 5 December 2008). States Parties to the BWC strive to ensure that the Convention remains relevant and effective, despite changes in science, technology or politics.
States Parties undertake "never in any circumstances to develop, produce, stockpile or otherwise acquire or retain:
microbial or other biological agents, or toxins whatever their origin or method of production, of types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes;
weapons, equipment or means of delivery designed to use such agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict."
Since enhanced transparency and information sharing helps reducing the occurrence of ambiguities, doubts and suspicions, annual Confidence-Building Measures were developed. These confidence-building measures consist of annual exchanges of data and information on research centres and laboratories, national biological defence research and development programmes and outbreaks of infectious diseases, to name but a few.
States Parties: 184
Signatory States: 4
States not members: Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Israel, Kiribati, Micronesia, South Sudan and Tuvalu (as of 20 February 2023)
Radioactive and nuclear substances
From the viewpoint of customs control, the risk of transit transport of radioactive and nuclear substances through Finland has decreased in comparison to the early 1990s. The former Soviet Union used a large variety of radioactive sources for different purposes. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, there has been practically speaking no regulatory control and supervision of radioactive sources. Orphaned sources dating from the Soviet era have been detected, which had been abandoned or lost and which, either with intent or inadvertently, could pose high potential risks. Since 1995, the Finnish Customs has enhanced its border controls and placed fixed radiation portal monitors along the eastern border of Finland. Cross-border cooperation in radiation control issues between Finnish and Russian Customs authorities is nowadays close. For example, a two-week course on radiation control was arranged jointly in 2007 and 2008. The first week was organised by the Finnish Customs and Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority in Finland and the Russian Customs Academy was responsible for the second week in St. Petersburg. The participants were supervisory staff from the Finnish and Russian Customs.
The observations made in connection with the radiation control by the Finnish Customs support the view that the potential risk has diminished. This concerns less serious cases in particular. More serious threats are harder to assess, and it is possible that such cases are just as likely to surface as in the past.
More resources are being channelled to the border control of radioactive materials and modernisation of control systems. In the Finnish Government's budget proposal, mention is made of the need of an estimated 10 million euros for the development of the border control of radioactive materials during the next few years.
In accordance with the security provisions of the Modernised Customs Code (EC), hazardous substances, among other things, must be declared in connection with import and export (UN numbers). When the advance declaration procedure is introduced as of 1 July 2009, electronic data on all imports and exports will be available for the Customs. This will enable risk analysis before goods enter the customs territory as well as control measures in case of potential threat scenarios.
Even up to the present, the Finnish Customs has monitored transports of hazardous substances, and the new legislation requires the development of the monitoring. Indications of illegal substances posing potential chemical hazards have not occurred to any great extent within regular customs control. However, any direct conclusions on that such cases have not occurred cannot be drawn.