May 27, 2000

Risk of Weapons Sales


Related Articles
Washington Loosens Restrictions on Sales of Weapons to Allies (May 24, 2000)

To the Editor:

Although "Washington Loosens Restrictions on Sales of Weapons to Allies" (news article, May 24) mentions "the risk of undercutting nonproliferation efforts" associated with major changes to American arms export policy, it does not elaborate on what that risk involves.

For example, the licensing exemptions to be given to Britain and Australia were already granted to Canada, but later revoked when Canadian companies passed United States military technology to Iran and China. The United States also suspended licenses for small arms sales to Britain because of clear risk of diversion.

The "red tape" cut by the administration is actually an important system of controls that helps prevent American weapons from getting into the wrong hands. Instead of addressing weaknesses in the current system, the policy changes are designed to help the arms industry increase its exports.

Washington, May 25, 2000
The writer is director of the Arms Sales Monitoring Project, Federation of American Scientists.

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