May 11, 2000
John D. Podesta
Chief of Staff to the President
The White House, 1st Floor, West Wing
Washington, DC 20500
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
William Goodfellow, Executive Director
John Isaacs, President
Director, Arms Sales Monitoring Project
Federation of American Scientists
Edward (Ned) W. Stowe, Legislative Secretary
Loretta Bondi, Advocacy Director
Arms and Conflict Program, Fund for Peace
Lyn B. Neylon, President
Mark Pelavin, Associate Director
Mike Amitay, Director
William D. Hartung
Director, Arms Trade Resource Center
World Policy Institute