(CW) and biological warfare (BW) capabilities. In the West these suspicions revived international interest in the Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous, or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare (the Geneva Protocol), which had been signed in 1925 and had entered into force in 1928. This protocol banned the use of CW and BW agents, and international attention focused on the need for stronger international measures to ban their development, production, and stockpiling.
Also in the early 1950s, the western countries joined together in the informal, but important, Consultative Group and Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (COCOM) to help ensure that their unique military technologies were not diverted in ways that would help the Soviets and, later, the Chinese build up their military capabilities. Then, in the 1980s, several Third World nations showed increased interest in obtaining missile capabilities, raising apprehensions in many other countries. As a result, international efforts were directed to preventing the transfer of missiles, their components, and supporting technologies to countries with new military ambitions.
Against this background, a number of international regimes for controlling exports of sensitive materials, equipment, and technical information have evolved. In several areas they are well-established, providing frameworks for the efforts of countries around the world to join together in taking steps that will help prevent the spread of militarily sensitive items to countries that could then pose new threats to the international community. In other areas the regimes are still in their early stages of development.
International regulatory efforts are based largely on two types of multilateral arrangements as reflected in the regimes: (a) formal international treaties and conventions to control trade and transfers of technology in selected areas and/or to mobilize multilateral action against countries found to be violating international nonproliferation norms by undertaking inappropriate activities; and (b) less formal multilateral arrangements directed to monitoring and influencing transfers of material and technologies of concern. An essential component of all international efforts is the network of national policies and laws that reflect the international consensus on transfers of dangerous material and sensitive technologies, with the individual countries applying the consensus in controlling their own trade and related activities involving such items.
In addition, the United States and other countries, acting alone or in concert, undertake initiatives outside the framework of the established international regimes in addressing threats of proliferation of advanced weapons systems. For example, the United States can enter into a bilateral security agreement with a friendly country that feels threatened by a neighbor, and such an agreement might reduce the incentives for the friendly country to build up its own military capabilities (e.g., the U.S. agreement with Japan). Also, sanctions can be imposed by one or more governments against another government that approves exports of sensitive items to a state of proliferation concern. In the extreme, a country can