USIS Washington File

29 March 2000

U.S. Arms Control Adviser Briefs Legislators on Export Reforms

(J.D. Holum comments on satellite technology transfers) (800)
By Jim Fisher-Thompson
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- U.S. State Department Senior Adviser for Arms Control
and International Security John D. Holum told Congress March 28 that
changes in the way the U.S. government licenses the export of critical
technology are being made that will "satisfy our allies" as well as
"encourage legitimate commercial enterprise."

Holum, who headed the former Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
(ACDA) before it was consolidated into the State Department last
October, told the House International Relations Committee that
"controls is not a dirty word at the Department of State."

Declaring that "the defense trade control system....must be
preserved," Holum told the lawmakers that the U.S. government was
"committed to giving the regulation and facilitation of responsible
defense trade the attention and the resources it deserves, and to
improving the efficiency, timeliness and security with which we carry
out these functions."

Much of the regulation of arms for commercial export was transferred
by Congress from the Commerce Department to the State Department in
the Spring of 1999. In addition to conventional arms, the system also
covers satellites, computers and other technology with a dual
(military/civilian) use that could fall into the wrong hands and
jeopardize the security of the United States.

Reforms that Holum said would expedite the licensing process include:

-- cutting the processing time for export licenses from 55 days to 21

-- doubling the State Department staff working on munitions exports
licensing requests; and

-- ensuring special handling of requests for North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO) allies.

Even before Holum spoke, most of the Congressmen on the panel
examining the "munitions list export licensing issues" indicated that
they were dissatisfied with the export control system as it was now
being administered.

Referring to a recent arms accord worked out by the U.S. Defense
Department and the United Kingdom called the "Declaration of
Principles for Defense Equipment and Industrial Cooperation,"
Representative Sam Gejdenson (Democrat, Connecticut) said "I'm
frustrated..... it's like your agency (State Department) disappeared
on this one -- you should be setting policy not DOD."

Committee Chairman Ben Gilman (Republican, New York) objected to the
U.S.-U.K. declaration, telling Holum that "that agreement, which as
you know is not legally binding, was negotiated between our Department
of Defense and the British Ministry of Defense. Neither the State
Department nor any other U.S. agencies with equities in this document
were involved. I expressed my particular concerns about the language
on export controls in the declaration."

Gilman said "I don't believe in exemptions to U.S. export controls for

Highlighting what he believes are the stifling effects of the current
policy of export controls on U.S. industry , Gejdenson added that
"while we sit around shuffling paper, other countries are taking
market share" by selling their satellites and other products abroad.
"This is damaging our national security and our economy," he stated.

Representative Donald Manzullo (Republican, Illinois) also said he
believed the export licensing regime, as it exists today, was "archaic
and naive." He said that commercial satellites do not have military
applications, and added that if "we continue with our policy America
will no longer be in the business of making commercial satellites."

Representative Steve Kuykendall (Republican, California), where much
of the U.S. space industry is located, was not a member of the
Committee but was allowed to attend the hearing. He echoed Manzullo
when he noted that "I'm already experiencing job losses in my district
because of satellites that cannot be sold."

Representative Dana Rohrabacher (Republican, California) expressed
dissatisfaction with the export licensing system because it gave too
much away -- to China. He said he was concerned that transferring
technology to China, especially in the field of satellites, was

He bore down on the dual use aspect of satellite technology, asserting
that it was not always easy to separate its military and civilian
applications and asked "what are we doing providing Communist China"
with "force-multiplier technology" like satellites that might
eventually be used against U.S. allies and even U.S. troops.

Representative Howard Berman (Democrat, California) pointed out that
when the Clinton administration established an embargo on the sale of
satellite technology to China in 1994, because of that nation's help
toward arming Pakistan, Rohrabacher opposed the move. Rohrabacher said
that was true, but he added that he has since changed his mind.

Rohrabacher said "what has happened since 1994 has convinced me that
the PRC (People's Republic of China) is not evolving toward
democracy...and is becoming more belligerent. I learned from my

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