USA — Official Explains Need for Export-control Reform

WASHINGTON — Eco­nom­ic con­trols have a direct rela­tion­ship to nation­al secu­ri­ty, and Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates says it’s time some of those con­trols got a makeover.
In a speech yes­ter­day to the Busi­ness Exec­u­tives for Nation­al Secu­ri­ty, Gates pro­posed revamp­ing the nation’s Cold War-era export-con­trol sys­tem to make it more dif­fi­cult for crit­i­cal tech­nolo­gies to get into the hands of rogue states and ter­ror­ists while facil­i­tat­ing the trans­fer of tech­nol­o­gy to U.S. allies. 

James A. Hursch, direc­tor of the Defense Tech­nol­o­gy Secu­ri­ty Admin­is­tra­tion, spoke lat­er in the day about the Defense Department’s posi­tion on export con­trols – the reg­u­la­tions that deter­mine what is and isn’t allowed to be sold abroad by U.S.-based enti­ties – in a “DoD Live” blog­gers roundtable. 

The export con­trols in place now were writ­ten more than 50 years ago, he explained, in a fun­da­men­tal­ly dif­fer­ent secu­ri­ty environment. 

“It was a sys­tem designed for the Cold War, bipo­lar world, and is not suf­fi­cient­ly focused on the most crit­i­cal threats we face today,” Hursch said. 

And because of inno­va­tions in tech­nol­o­gy and the ever-more-glob­al econ­o­my, prod­ucts on the cut­ting edge aren’t always Amer­i­can any more, he not­ed. Often, he explained, the U.S. mil­i­tary uses off-the-shelf com­mer­cial sys­tems, because the defense indus­try can’t keep up with the glob­al con­sumer market. 

“There’s a need for a fun­da­men­tal change to the sys­tem we have in place today,” Hursch said. “We have a sec­re­tary of defense who real­izes the over­whelm­ing­ly pos­i­tive impli­ca­tions of the export con­trol reforms that he advo­cates, and [under­stands] that he is doing them for nation­al secu­ri­ty reasons.” 

Hursch enu­mer­at­ed four essen­tial pieces of the reform effort he called “sin­gles.” The first is a sin­gle export con­trol list that clar­i­fies which exports require a license and which do not, as well as the steps to obtain a license to export a product. 

“This would be an aggre­ga­tion of the cur­rent Unit­ed States Muni­tions List and the cur­rent Crit­i­cal Items Con­trol List that the Com­merce Depart­ment admin­is­ters,” he said. “This would be tiered accord­ing to the sen­si­tiv­i­ty or crit­i­cal­i­ty of an item or the tech­nol­o­gy asso­ci­at­ed with it.” 

The sec­ond is a con­sol­i­dat­ed licens­ing agency that will help to stream­line the review and export process­es and make con­sis­tent deci­sions made regard­ing licens­es. Cur­rent­ly, the depart­ments of State and Com­merce both have licens­ing bod­ies, and they often con­flict, Hursch said. 

“We spend a lot of time fight­ing over which of these two author­i­ties should actu­al­ly con­trol the export of cer­tain items, rather than fight­ing over how crit­i­cal or sen­si­tive the item actu­al­ly is, and there­fore whether it should be con­trolled or not,” he said. 

The third part of the pro­posed reform is a lone agency that would coor­di­nate enforce­ment efforts and help to mon­i­tor, inves­ti­gate and pros­e­cute vio­la­tors of export con­trol laws. Many law enforce­ment orga­ni­za­tions now assist in this task, from the FBI to the U.S. Coast Guard and bor­der patrols. This new agency would not replace them, Hursch said, but would ensure those agen­cies don’t dupli­cate each oth­ers’ efforts. 

The fourth aspect of the pro­posed reform is a uni­fied infor­ma­tion tech­nol­o­gy sys­tem to main­tain license infor­ma­tion and oth­er data per­ti­nent to export con­trol and review license data effi­cient­ly across the gov­ern­ment. The Com­merce, Defense and State depart­ments each have their own net­work in place now; Hursch said the Defense Department’s sys­tem is the newest and like­ly will form the back­bone of the new inter­de­part­men­tal system. 

Mak­ing the pro­posed reforms a real­i­ty won’t be a sim­ple task, Hursch acknowledged. 

“We real­ize that fun­da­men­tal reform requires exten­sive coor­di­na­tion and con­sul­ta­tion with Con­gress and oth­er inter­est­ed groups,” he said. “Achiev­ing reform will not be quick or easy.” 

As the reform is devel­oped and a pack­age is put togeth­er to sub­mit to Con­gress – Hursch esti­mat­ed that would hap­pen by the end of the year – Gates and his col­leagues at the State Com­merce depart­ments will begin mak­ing pol­i­cy changes with­in their exec­u­tive-deci­sion purview. 

The cre­ation of tiered restric­tions, defin­ing which cur­rent­ly con­trolled items need to be placed among those tiers, deter­min­ing enforce­ment tech­niques and ensur­ing penal­ties for vio­la­tors are appro­pri­ate are on the “to do” list, Hursch said. Though many of the reforms will be made along the way through exec­u­tive orders, he said, the four “sin­gles” will require con­gres­sion­al approval, Hursch said. 

The end sys­tem would cre­ate “high­er walls around few­er items,” Hursch explained. Weapon­ry — specif­i­cal­ly items that could be used to build weapons of mass destruc­tion — will be very tight­ly con­trolled, as would items or infor­ma­tion such as schemat­ics or blue­prints that could hurt domes­tic eco­nom­ic inter­ests if exported. 

Con­trol won’t nec­es­sar­i­ly be more lax over cer­tain items, Hursch said, but the tiered sys­tem will aid in pri­or­i­tiz­ing enforce­ment and in help­ing agen­cies dif­fer­en­ti­ate between, for exam­ple, export of a con­trolled food item and a con­trolled chem­i­cal with poten­tial­ly harm­ful uses, Hursch said. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →