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White House To Streamline Arms Export License Process
U.S. President Barack Obama plans to send Congress legislation this year to create a single agency to issue arms export licenses, the chief of the National Security Council said June 30.
The new agency would take over licensing tasks from the Departments of State, Commerce and Treasury, said James Jones, Obama’s national security adviser.
The move is part of an Obama administration effort to reform export control regulations, many of which date to the Cold War era and are cumbersome in today’s global economy, Jones told an audience of defense executives and congressional staffers.
Today, export licenses for commercial products that have military uses – so called dual-use items – are issued by the Commerce Department, licenses for strictly military goods are handled by the State Department and licenses for financial products are handled by the Treasury.
Jones said the administration also wants to merge the Commerce Department’s list of controlled dual-use items with the State Department’s U.S. Munitions List to create a single list of controlled items.
A single list would make it clearer which items require export licenses. Mechanisms would be created to keep the list updated so that when items no longer require licenses, they will be taken off the list.
At present that doesn’t happen, Jones said. Military railway trains, for example, were placed on the munitions list in 1935, and are still on the list today, he said.
On the enforcement side, the administration plans to create an “export enforcement fusion center” to “coordinate and deconflict” export control enforcement. At present, multiple agencies enforce export control laws, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department, the FBI and the Commerce Department. Their efforts are plagued by duplication and insufficient coordination, Jones said.
In another effort at improved coordination, Jones said the administration wants an integrated information technology system to manage licenses. Under the current three-agency licensing regime, IT systems used by the agencies are not compatible, so the agencies cannot easily find out whether license applications have been approved or denied by another agency.
Jones’ announcements were greeted as welcome news by Marion Blakey, president of the Aerospace Industries Association, which has campaigned for years to achieve export control reforms.
Blakey said the administration’s plans promise to create a clearer line between military and commercial technologies, making it easier to export nonmilitary items. She said the administration also plans to establish a tiered ranking system so that more sensitive military technologies get greater scrutiny and tougher controls than less sensitive items, which will become easier to export.
Defense News – By WILLIAM MATTHEWS