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27 June 2007

U.S.-U.K. Defense Treaty Signed

If approved by Senate, agreement will boost military industry cooperation

Washington -- The United States and the United Kingdom have signed a treaty to remove bureaucratic barriers and export license requirements between the defense industries of the two allies.

President Bush and former Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed on the treaty June 21. They did not meet in person, but instead exchanged signed copies of the treaty via trans-Atlantic courier. Blair stepped down June 27 after serving a decade as prime minister.

Under the U.S. Constitution, the treaty must be approved by the Senate.

“The agreement will substantially improve the economies of both states in the area of defense trade,” the State Department’s John Rood said in a telephone interview June 26. Rood is assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation.

The U.S.-U.K. Defense Cooperation Treaty is intended to permit the export of specific U.S. defense equipment and services to the British government and to select British companies, without U.S. export licenses or other prior approval. The treaty also would ensure the continuation of Britain’s policy of not requiring a license for the export of U.K. defense equipment and services to the United States.

“It is in our national security interest to support U.S.-U.K. military and counterterrorism operations in a timely way, and to speed U.S.-U.K. research and development and production of the next generation of interoperable defense technologies,” Rood said in a statement.

The treaty is expected to foster closer collaboration while also reducing the costs of trans-Atlantic defense projects.

“It is in our security and economic interest to save money by leveraging each other’s experience, and by reducing duplication of efforts in research and development and production,” Rood said.

Specific details of the treaty have not been made public. The treaty will create an approved community that includes companies, projects and operations agreed upon by the governments of both countries.

Currently, the U.S. government requires export licenses for defense-related equipment and services exported to the United Kingdom. In the past two years, Rood said, the State Department processed 13,000 export license requests for the United Kingdom. All but 16 were approved -- an approval rate of 99.9 percent. However, Rood said, many of these licenses took months to process.

“We believe the treaty will provide a better way to do business,” Rood said.

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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