May 11, 2000


John D. Podesta

Chief of Staff to the President

The White House, 1st Floor, West Wing

Washington, DC 20500


Re: Conventional Arms Export Reforms

Dear Mr. Podesta:

We are writing to request a briefing on the administration’s planned reforms to U.S. arms export policy.  As representatives of non-governmental groups working to limit the impact of the arms trade on international peace and security, we are dismayed that the reforms have been developed without any input from the arms control community and other concerned non-governmental organizations. 

We understand that representatives of the aerospace industry met with you in February to present their views and will be given a briefing next week on the agreed reforms.  In addition, we understand that congressional staff and representatives of allied governments also will be consulted.  We would appreciate a similar opportunity to express our concerns about the reform package and to discuss the details of the administration’s implementation plans.

We believe that the reforms essentially represent a dismantlement of the carefully developed system of restraint that has helped keep U.S. arms and military technology out of the wrong hands for so many years.  We are particularly opposed to the idea of granting ITAR exemptions to the United Kingdom, Australia, or any other ally.  Establishing a license-free arms trade zone diminishes U.S. control over its arms and technology to an unacceptable level.  These countries’ export laws and procedures are far weaker than our own, and the only signs of change – such as the UK’s planned participation in a free arms trade zone within Europe – show an inclination to loosen, rather than tighten, their arms export policies.

We hope our views will be taken into account during today’s principals meeting on the subject.  Please see the attached letter for more information on our concerns.

Please contact Tamar Gabelnick (202-675-1018) at your earliest convenience to discuss the feasibility and timing of such a meeting.

Thank you very much for considering our request.      

Oscar Arias, President

Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress


Dan Plesch, Director

British American Security Information Council


Rachel Stohl, Senior Analyst

Center for Defense Information


William Goodfellow, Executive Director

Center for International Policy


John Isaacs, President

Council For A Livable World


Tamar Gabelnick

Director, Arms Sales Monitoring Project

Federation of American Scientists


Edward (Ned) W. Stowe, Legislative Secretary

Friends Committee on National Legislation


Loretta Bondi, Advocacy Director

Arms and Conflict Program, Fund for Peace


Lyn B. Neylon, President

Human Rights Access


Mark Pelavin, Associate Director

Religious Action Center of Reform Judiasm


Mike Amitay, Director

Washington Kurdish Institute


William D. Hartung

Director, Arms Trade Resource Center

World Policy Institute