Order Code RL30689
Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
The Export Administration Act:
Controversy and Prospects
Updated January 2, 2003
Ian F. Fergusson
Analyst in International Trade and Finance
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
The Export Administration Act:
Controversy and Prospects
The 108th Congress again is expected to consider legislation to rewrite or to
reauthorize the Export Administration Act (EAA). In the 107th Congress, the Export
Administration Act of 2001 (S. 149) was introduced on January 23, 2001. The Senate
passed S. 149 on September 6, 2001 by a vote of 85-14. A companion version in the
House, H.R. 2581, was introduced by Rep. Gilman on July 20, 2001. The House
International Relations Committee reported the measure with 35 amendments on
August 1. The House Armed Services Committee further amended H.R. 2581 and
reported out the bill on March 6, 2002. The difficulty in passing a comprehensive
rewrite of the EAA has resulted, in part, from the continuing tension between
national security and commercial concerns. Industry groups, proponents of
heightened export controls, the Administration, and Congress have all participated
in the reauthorization debate.
Export control legislation gives rise to difficult questions that are integral to the
working and efficacy of the export control system. The first question is the extent
to which technology can be controlled. Industry groups contend that global
information age high-technology is virtually uncontrollable. For this reason, industry
supports mass market and foreign availability criteria in the EAA reauthorization
legislation to restrict controls on widely available products. Others contend that these
criteria would gut current export control laws. Industry officials also state that
exports of high technology enhance national security by providing funds for R&D
with military applications. Opponents of this position claim that if additional funds
for military R&D are necessary, Congress should appropriate funds.
A second question concerns the target countries on which export controls are
imposed. Foreign policy controls impose sanctions on countries for behavior the
United States considers unacceptable. Debate over this provision echoes debate on
the efficacy of economic sanctions. Discussion of multilateral controls reflects the
belief that the current regime (the Wassenaar arrangement) is an ineffective tool to
control dual-use exports. Policy differences over multilateral arrangements arise over
whether the U.S. should impose unilateral controls as an example for other countries
to follow or only impose controls in conjunction with other major exporting
A third question is whether the current bifurcated export control system is the
optimal administrative arrangement in the post Cold War world. Critics of the current
process contend that national security interests are harmed by the current procedures.
Industry spokesmen approve of the Commerce Department’s role in dual-use exports,
but want to further streamline the process. Other policy prescriptions have been aired
such as merging all export control functions into one agency or to de-emphasize the
licensing process.Congress has numerous options concerning export control. It can
consider the current bills, continue to extend EAA79, legislate piecemeal revisions
or policy prescriptions, work to erect stronger multilateral controls, or to engage in
a more comprehensive review of export control laws, or some combination of the
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
The Stakeholders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Industry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Heightened Control Advocates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
The Administration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Congress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Vexing Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Controllability of Technology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Computing Power . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Targets of Control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Foreign Policy Controls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Multilateralism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Administrative Reforms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Options for Congress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
The Export Administration Act:
Controversy and Prospects
The export of dual-use commodities, items that have both civilian and military
applications, is regulated by the Export Administration Act (EAA) of 1979, that most
recently expired on August 20, 2001.1 The Act authorizes the President to control
exports for national security and foreign policy considerations, to negotiate
multilateral control arrangements, and to issue regulations to prevent U.S. companies
from adhering to foreign boycotts. The Act provides for classification and licensing
of dual-use exports by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Export Administration
(BXA). The EAA only controls dual-use items; munitions and non dual-use nuclear
proliferation articles are controlled by the Department of State and Department of
The EAA is the statutory authority for the Export Administration Regulations
(EAR). These regulations establish the framework for regulating exports of dualuse, potentially sensitive commodities, software, computers, and technology.
Exports are restricted by item, country, and entity. Approximately 2400 items are on
the Commerce Control List for which an export license may be required.2 During
periods when EAA has lapsed (1994-2000, and currently), implementation of the
EAR and provisions of the Act have been continued by a presidential declaration of
a national emergency under the National Emergency Act3 and by the authority of the
International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).4
The House of Representatives in the 104th Congress attempted to reauthorize the
EAA. H.R. 361 was passed by the House, and hearings were held by the Senate
Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, but no further action took place.
During the 106th Congress, S. 1712 was crafted by the Senate Banking Committee.
Hearing were held, and the legislation was reported out of the Senate Banking
Committee unanimously on September 23, 1999. It was placed on the calendar, yet
holds were placed on the legislation pending resolution of concerns expressed by
four committee chairmen. In the final days of the second session, Congress passed
and President Clinton signed into law the Export Administration Modification and
P.L. 96-72, 93 Stat.503(1979), 50 U.S.C.2401, et seq.; Executive Order 13222, August 17,
The Export Administration Regulations are located in the Code of Federal Regulations at
15 CFR 730-774; the Commodity Control List is located at 15 CFR 774.
P.L. 94-412, 90 Stat. 1255(1976), 50 U.S.C.1601, et seq.
P.L. 95-223, 91 Stat. 1626 (1977), 50 U.S.C.1701, et seq.
Clarification Act of 2000 which reauthorized the lapsed EAA79 until August 20,
On January 23, 2001, Senator Michael P. Enzi introduced the Export
Administration Act of 2001 (S. 149). Hearings were held on this legislation by the
Senate Banking Housing and Urban Affairs Committee in February 2001, and the
measure was reported favorably for consideration by the Senate by a vote of 19-1 on
March 22, 2001. The Senate debated the legislation on September 4-6, 2001 and
passed it with three amendments by a vote of 85-14. This bill is similar though not
identical to the Export Administration Act of 1999 (S. 1712), introduced by Senator
Enzi in the 106th Congress.5 On May 23, June 12, and July 11, the House
International Relations Committee held hearings on EAA and export controls. The
House version of the Export Administration Act, H.R. 2581, was introduced on July
20, 2001 by Rep. Benjamin Gilman. As introduced, it was identical to S. 149, except
for the additions of provisions related to oversight of nuclear transfers to North
Korea. At the markup session on August 1, the House International Relation
Committee passed the legislation with 35 amendments. The House Armed Services
Committee (HASC) and the House Permanent Select Committee on
Intelligence(HPSCI) received H.R. 2581 through sequential referral. On March 6,
2002, HASC further amended H.R. 2581 and reported out the legislation by a vote
of 44-6. HPSCI held hearings on the legislation but did not alter it.
The difficulty in passing the reauthorization of the EAA has, in part, resulted
from the continuing tension between national security and commercial concerns. In
addition, the 1979 Act (itself descended from the Export Control Act of 1949)
reflects the strategic priorities of the Cold War: the desire to restrict exports of
sensitive goods and technology to the Soviet Bloc. The Act is widely perceived to
need revision to account for changing economic and international security concerns.
The manner in which the Export Administration Act is revised may have far-reaching
consequences for America’s security. The resulting controls may also affect
domestic high-tech and defense industries and employment.
The Administration, non-governmental organizations (NGO) promoting nonproliferation, national security experts and industry lobbyists all look to Congress to
adopt an export control strategy through reauthorization of the EAA. This paper is
designed to identify the various stakeholders in this debate and to contrast their
principal thematic arguments and claims. It also discusses alternatives and options
There are four principal participants in the export control debate: industries
whose products are subject to control, certain national security and non-proliferation
experts, various federal agencies assigned an export control function, committees of
For details on this legislative activity and specific provisions of S. 149 and key differences
with H.R. 2581, see Ian Fergusson, Craig Elwell, Jeanne Grimmett and Robert Shuey,
Export Administration Act Reauthorization, CRS Report RL30169.
Congress with jurisdiction over export controls and other committees with oversight
of national security agencies. Agricultural and union interests have taken an interest
in previous EAA reauthorization attempts. These groups, however, have not been
active in the deliberations over the current legislation.
EAA reauthorization legislation in the 106th Congress was of major interest to
six high technology and export-intensive industries most affected by current export
controls. The computer, software, telecommunications, satellite, machine tools, and
aerospace industries, individually and through such associations as the Computer
Coalition for Responsible Exports, the Satellite Industry Association and the
Association for Manufacturing Technology, have testified and lobbied Congress on
the need for new export control legislation. They claim to represent some of the most
dynamic and competitive sectors of American industry, and they petition Congress
for more venues to compete with what they consider cutting-edge products.
The value of license applications filed with BXA in 2001 to controlled
destinations totaled approximately $2.2 billion (1677 application). In 2001, 990
applications were filed with the Department of Commerce for licenses to export
controlled dual-use items to China. These applications represented potential sales of
$226.7 million.6 While the overall value of U.S. exports to controlled countries
remains low, these exports may become increasingly important to certain economic
sectors. Capital goods, including machinery and transportation equipment,
represented over 50% of the value of licenses approved.7 Industries such as
computers and aerospace report that they export large percentages of their
production, but their exposure to controlled markets remains unclear.
Heightened Control Advocates
This group is primarily comprised of certain national security experts who
advocate strict controls on technologies and dual-use items that can aid potential
adversaries to construct nuclear, biological or chemical weapons and missiles. They
also advocate the restriction of exports to countries that support international
terrorists. They would like these materials kept away from the ‘countries of concern’:
Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea and Sudan. They are especially concerned with
the potential uses of this technology in China, as well as for the possibility of
diversion from China to other nations. These advocates range from those who the
view the restraint of trade as a means to voice dissatisfaction with another country’s
policies to those who could support export control legislation with added
consultation or safeguards.
BXA Annual Report-2001, Appendix C.
BXA Annual Report-2001, p. D2.
The Department of Commerce (DOC) is responsible for regulating dual-use
exports under provisions of EAA79. DOC consults with other members of the
national security community on license applications and commodity classifications.
The Defense Threat Reduction Agency in the Department of Defense conducts
national security reviews for license applications referred from Commerce and State.
The Department of Energy also reviews dual-use license applications referred by
Commerce for nuclear uses and nuclear end-users, and it and the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission license exportation of nuclear materials. In addition, the Office of
Defense Trade Controls at the State Department administers the International Traffic
in Arms Regulations. Through the Munitions List, this agency regulates the traffic
The Bureau of Export Administration (BXA) is charged with administering the
export control regulations within the Department of Commerce. In FY2001, 10,884
license applications were submitted to BXA. BXA acted on 10,771 applications in
FY00; approved 8,806 (82%), denied 225 (2%), and returned 1,740 (16%) licenses.
The average processing time for license applications that are referred was 44 days,
a length of time that has gradually increased since FY1996 when the average duration
was 26 days.8
The Bush administration suggested several changes to S. 149, and it indicated
that with such changes it would support the legislation. These changes were
incorporated in a manager’s amendment approved during the Committee’s markup
session on March 22, 2001. After the mark-up of H.R. 2581 on August 1, 2001, the
administration reaffirmed its support of S. 149. The administration subsequently has
indicated that it strongly opposes both the International Relations and Armed
Services Committee amendments to H.R. 2581.9
Under the Senate Rules, the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee
has jurisdiction over export control.10 In the House of Representatives, the
International Relations Committee has jurisdiction over export controls, but the
committee did not consider legislation in the 106th Congress.11 Several other Senate
committees have also expressed an interest in export controls. The Armed Services,
Commerce, Foreign Relations, Governmental Affairs and Intelligence Committees
have all held hearings, or conducted oversight over executive departments that are
considered stakeholders in the legislation. During the 106th Congress, the Chairmen
of the Armed Services, Foreign Relations, Governmental Affairs and Intelligence
BXA Annual Report - 2001, pp. vi-vii., Applications are often returned without action if
no license is required.
“ Administration, Business Blast House Bill to Strengthen DOD Hand on Export
Controls,” Daily Report for Executives, March 8, 2002.
Standing Rules of the Senate, 25.1d(6).
Rules of the House of Representatives, Rule X, clause (1)(j)(4).
Committees placed holds on S. 1712, preventing its consideration on the Senate
The debate over the reauthorization of EAA has raised difficult questions that
underlie important aspects of export control policy. Some questions that merit
consideration in context of the debate include whether technology can be
meaningfully controlled, to which nations should controls apply, and whether the
current diffuse export control licensing system is optimal for the 21st century.
Controllability of Technology
Underlying the debate concerning the reauthorization of the EAA concerns the
controllability of technology. Both EAA79 and current legislation attempt to qualify
the circumstances in which items can be controlled for national security purposes.
Items controlled for national security purposes are placed on the Commodity Control
List (CCL) [the National Security Control List (NSCL) in S. 149/H.R. 2581]. The
Foreign Availability provision in both EAA and S. 149/H.R. 2581 and the Mass
Market provision in current legislation attempt to balance the sensitivity of an item
to U.S. national security interests with the ability to obtain these items from other
The EAA defines an item as having foreign availability if that item or a
substantially identical article can be purchased outside the United States by a
controlled country in sufficient quantity or quality such that it would render controls
on the item ineffective. The current bills incorporates those criteria and adds price
competitiveness as an additional standard to determine foreign availability.13
Determinations of foreign availability are made by Technical Advisory Committees
consisting of officials from the Commerce, Defense and State Departments as well
as industry representatives. S. 149/H.R. 2581 establishes an Office of Technology
Evaluation to make foreign availability and mass market determinations.14
In addition to foreign availability, S. 149/H.R. 2581 provides that items may be
decontrolled for mass market characteristics. It defines an item as having mass
market characteristics if the good is sold in extensive volume to multiple buyers, if
it has a wide distribution network, if it can be shipped by normal means, or if it can
be utilized for its intended purpose with little alteration.15 Articles that are found to
have mass market characteristics would not be placed on the NSCL.
“Export Controls: Sen. Enzi Says Fellow Republicans Seeking To Shut Down High-Tech
Exports,” 17 International Trade Reporter 663, April 27, 2000.
P.L. 96-72, 93 Stat.503, 509; S. 149, Sec. 211 (d)(1)(A)-(C).
P.L. 96-72, 93 Stat.503, 510, S. 149, Sec. 214.
S. 149, Sec. 211 (d)(2)(A)- (D).
Industry groups that have taken an active position on legislation to replace
EAA79 consider the adoption of these provisions as the key benefit of S. 149. The
mass market and foreign availability concepts are integral to their contention that the
flow of technology cannot be effectively controlled, and that our dominance of
cutting-edge technology can no longer be assumed. According to their arguments,
unilateral controls will not stop other countries from obtaining advanced technology.
Advocates of this viewpoint claim that “countries of concern” will simply obtain this
technology from other nations. Adherents to this view regard current multilateral
controls on dual-use articles (the Wassenaar Arrangement)16 as ineffectual. From this
perspective, only American business suffers from the unilateral nature of U.S. export
controls. In the process, foreign business wins new markets or gains an incentive to
enter new markets.17
According to the industry position, unilateral export controls are also becoming
increasingly unworkable as the economy undergoes globalization. The current export
control system is predicated on goods being manufactured or assembled in one
country. In many industries, however, component parts are manufactured worldwide
and are considered commodities. If these parts are not available from one source on
a timely basis, they can be obtained elsewhere.18 Purchasing managers at Daimler
Chrysler Aerospace, for example, reportedly have been instructed to reduce
dependence on American components for defense and space technology products
because of delays associated with American licensing procedures.19
Other participants in the export control debate are concerned about the mass
market and foreign availability arguments advanced by industry proponents. Critics
charge that the mass market standard would effectively nullify the whole U.S. control
regime by decontrolling any item that met the criteria under the law. They assert that
virtually any product, including dual-use items used for proliferation purposes, would
qualify for mass market status. Similarly, as one non-proliferation advocate testified
regarding S. 1712, the foreign availability criterion would allow the sale of “anything
a controlled country can purchase from a rogue buyer.”20 Proponents of current
legislation point to the ability of the President to set-aside foreign availability or mass
For more on multilateral dual-use controls, see Grimmett, Richard F., Military
Technology and Conventional Weapons Export Controls: The Wassenaar Arrangement,
CRS Report RS20517, March 27, 2000.
For examples of this argument see, Prepared Statement of Dan Hoydosh, co-chairman of
Computer Coalition for Responsible Exports, in Senate Banking Committee,
Reauthorization of the Export Administration Act, S.Hrg. 106-461, March 16,
1999(Reauthorization); and Hans Luemers, Sun Microsystems, “Position Papers: Export
Hamre, John, Testimony before the Armed Services Committee, February 28, 2000,
transcript, p. 31-33.
Douglass, John W., prepared testimony before the Armed Services Committee, February
28, 2000, p.3.
Milhollin, Gary, prepared testimony before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee,
May 26, 2000, p. 6.
market determinations to control any item through enhanced controls for national
The mass market provisions proved to be one of the most intractable obstacles
in negotiations to bring S. 1712 to the Senate floor in the 106th Congress. One
method floated to resolve this issue was a “carve-out,” an exemption to the mass
market and foreign availability criteria for certain articles. Assistant Secretary of
Defense, John Hamre, “insisted” on the inclusion of such a carve-out provision
before the Senate Armed Services Committee during hearings in 2000.22 Senator
Warner reportedly sought carve-outs for jet engine hot section technology,
encryption, and future technologies.23 Proponents of S. 149 point to the ‘enhanced
control,’ and foreign availability and mass market set-aside provisions as methods
to control such sensitive items.
A related argument made by industry associated with mass market and foreign
availability criteria is that national security is enhanced by robust export industries.
This argument is predicated on the changing nature of defense procurement, research
and development. During the Cold War, the formative period of the current export
control regime, the military drove much technical research and provided funds for
research and development. Now that situation is largely reversed. Shrinking defense
budgets have reduced funds available for R&D. The military now purchases many
items ‘off-the-shelf’ and relies to a greater extent on commercial applications.
Industry argues that it is in the national security to sell current technology to generate
funds to develop future technology. If American firms are competitively hindered
because of export controls, the argument goes, foreign firms will gain market share,
increase profits, invest more in R&D, shrink and possibly surpass our technological
lead. Thus, industry argues it needs a streamlined export process, one that will not
needlessly impede exports.
Critics of industry’s national security position reject this argument. They
maintain that the United States does not promote its national security by selling
advanced technology to potentially hostile states. This technology, if sold to a regime
of dubious stability, could be used against the United States or allies in the future.
Proponents of this argument point to the case of Iraq, which received U.S. weaponry
in the 1980's when Saddam Hussein was considered a useful counterweight to Iran.
Subsequently, this technology was used against Kuwait and allied forces in the
Persian Gulf War. Reliance on the civilian sector for R&D, they claim, is a policy
decision brought about by declining defense budgets. Some further argue that R&D
that advances defense capabilities should be funded within the Defense Department
if it is necessary to control technology to certain nations.
S. 149, Sec. 201(d), Sec.212, 213.
Hamre, transcript, p.37.
17 International Trade Reporter 340, March 2, 2000.
Computing Power.24 Industry uses the rapid rise in computing power as an
illustration both of the uncontrollable nature of technology and the inability of the
export control law to account for such innovation. Due to rapid technological
innovation, the level of computing power (measured in millions of technical
operations per second or MTOPS) that requires licensing under the commodity
control list (CCL) repeatedly has been increased by Presidential determination.
Computers with microprocessors such as the Apple G4 or the Intel Pentium III,
widely available for home-use today, brushed against these limits before MTOPS
thresholds were increased in 1999.
The regulatory framework of using MTOPS limits to determine computer power
is a related concern of the high-tech industry because it fears such limits will impede
the ability of the industry to export commodity level computers. The computer
industry has supported the elimination of the MTOPS standard.25 Both S. 149 and
H.R. 2581, contain provisions to repeal sections of the 1998 National Defense
Authorization Act (NDAA98) that established notification and post-shipment
verification requirements using MTOPS performance levels.26 Under NDAA98, the
President, in consultation with these agencies, can raise theoretical performance
levels to account for advances in technology, but only 180 days after he has
submitted a report to Congress justifying the new levels.27 In 2000, the review period
for MTOPS adjustment was reduced from 6 months to 60 days.28 The extent to which
MTOPS thresholds were recently raised, and the national security criteria used in
determining threshold increases during the Clinton administration were recently
questioned by GAO officials in recent Congressional testimony.29
Some observers outside industry have also concluded that technology, especially
computer technology, has become largely uncontrollable. One national security
analyst, Richard Perle, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Security Policy in
the Reagan Administration , states that attempting to control computing power is not
See also, CRS Report RL31175, High Performance Computers and Export Control
Policy: Issues for Congress, by Glenn J. McLoughlin and Ian F. Fergusson.
See testimony of Dan Hoydysh, Hearing on Establishing an Effective Modern Framework
for Export Controls, Senate Banking Committee, February 7, 2001.
The Act mandated license thresholds for MTOPS (millions of technical operations per
second) levels above 2,000 for military and 7,000 for civilian use. President Bush raised the
MTOPS level threshold to 190,000 for tier III countries in January 2002.
50 U.S.C. app. 2404 note. The EAR divide countries into tiers for the purpose of assessing
the risk of computer exports. Countries affected by this Act are called Tier III countries.
They include states that are former or potential adversaries, or are located in world
troublespots: Russia, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, South Korea, etc.
1999 National Defense Authorization Act, H.Rep 106-945, Sec.1234, October 6, 2000.
See Statement of Susan S. Westin, General Accounting Office, in Hearings on High
Performance Computer Exports, Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, March 15, 2001,
“feasible or effective.” He maintains that the restraint of computer trade is selfdefeating because it cedes markets and profits that could be used for R&D.30
Increasing computing speeds combined with networking advances have blurred
the distinction between super-computers and commodity computers.
Microprocessors that individually comply with export regulations can be linked
together to create servers with MTOPS capabilities that breach export thresholds. If
enough processors are linked together, they can create a parallel processing system
with capabilities that approach those of a super-computer. The Defense Science
Board notes in its final report on Globalization and Security that the ability to cluster
commodity computers in order to multiply computing power erodes the ability to
restrict access to high-performance computing, even if high-performance stand-alone
machines can be controlled.31 In addition, recent studies conducted by the the
General Accounting Office, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies
have concluded that the MTOPS standard is ineffective, but these studies came to no
consensus on a control metric to replace it.32
There is other evidence that loosely coupled, parallel processing systems can be
easily and cheaply constructed from parts available world-wide. These systems excel
in research applications that rely on computation rather than input/output (the ability
to support many users simultaneously) functions. Reportedly, the computers that are
most adept at such militarily significant applications as cryptography and simulation,
prime targets of current export controls, could be the easiest to obtain.33
Other observers believe the United States can restrict access to the highest
computer technology by limiting exports. They maintain that American-made
computers are perceived as superior, and thus carry greater cachet than products from
other nations. They note that the purchase of an American-made computer product
also buys superior networking and service, often at a better price. Control advocates
maintain that these distinctions are significant, that qualitative differences are
In addition, networking a parallel processing system, as those without access to
advanced computing technology must do to increase computing capability, presents
Richard Perle, speaking at the Forum for Technology and Innovation, March 23, 1999,
Defense Science Board, Final Report of Task Force on Globalization and Security,
Washington: Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology,
December 1999, p. 27.
See General Accounting Office, Export Controls: System for Controlling Exports of HighPerformance Computers is Ineffective, GAO-01-10, (Washington D.C., GAO, 2001); and
Center for Strategic and International Studies, Computer Exports and National Security in
a Global Era, Washington: CSIS, 2001).
Gartner Group, High Performance Computer Systems Summary, February 5, 1999, p. 1718.
Milhollin, Gary, prepared testimony before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee,
May 26, 2000, p. 6.
additional challenges distinct from those faced by engineers of commodity
computers. Andrew Grove, CEO of Intel, related how configuring together 9,000
microprocessors into a large scale parallel processing system “took a large group of
people and two and one-half years to build.” He concluded, “the physical technology,
the hardware technology implicit in building these large parallel machines is not the
same as the physical technology used in building commodity machines.”35 This
account seems to lend credence to the belief that higher power computing is
controllable to some degree.
Targets of Control
Another overarching policy question bears on which countries should be subject
to export controls. This question encompasses both the use of export controls as a
means of sanction as well as the multilateral aspects of export controls. Two parts
of the EAA concern specific countries.
Foreign Policy Controls. Unlike national security controls, foreign policy
controls are targeted against nations based on their behavior. The EAA directs the
President to impose unilateral export controls to punish conduct seen as promoting
terrorism or violating human rights and sets criteria for the imposition of controls.
The EAA requires that the President consult with foreign allies, Congress and
industry before imposing a sanction. S. 149 adds a public notice and comment period
that can be waived in an emergency. S. 149 increases the time limitation on foreign
policy controls to two years from one year under EAA. S. 149 also changes the
current authority to impose export controls on items related to the proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction, chemical and biological weapons, and their delivery
mechanisms. These items would be regulated under national security controls, and
would be subject to the foreign availability and mass market conditions explained
above. Critics of this provision assert that the criteria for imposing these sanctions
are thereby tightened, and they claim that it will make it harder for the President to
impose unilateral controls.
Proponents of heightened controls have made the argument that trade is a
privilege based on certain minimal levels of conduct: non-proliferation, respect for
human rights, and cooperation in efforts against terrorism, to name a few. Trading
with countries that violate these minimum standards of international behavior
weakens the moral authority of the U.S. and sends the signal that there is no penalty
for such activity. This position was articulated by Senator Kyl during the floor
debate on S. 149. “Nations which threaten our security interests should not be armed
by the United States. The fight against proliferation and rogue regimes must include
some degree of self-discipline.”36
Industry officials who have favored tightening the restrictions placed on
unilateral controls by S. 149 cite the seeming inability of unilateral economic
sanctions to achieve results. Some industry representatives argue that economic
Andrew Grove, speaking at the Forum for Technology and Innovation, March 23, 1999,
Remarks of Senator Jon Kyl, Congressional Record, S9098, September 4, 2001.
sanctions only should be applied for true national emergencies, and then only for a
limited period of time. If controls are imposed, these advocates contend, they should
be imposed multilaterally and with specific time-limits.37 Both the Act and the bill
call for international consultation subsequent to the imposition of unilateral controls
with the hope of extending their scope.
Multilateralism. The multilateral determination of export control policy by
countries sharing U.S. values is seen as a preferable solution by both industry
spokesmen and proponents of heightened export restrictions. Many observers
contend that the current multilateral system of control of dual-use articles, the
Wassenaar Arrangement, is ineffective because it relies on consensus of member
states which allows for only the level of control acceptable to all. Its minimal
reporting requirements mandate notification only that an item has been sold, thus
preventing effective pre-export consultation among member states.
Industry stresses the necessity of effective multilateral controls. They argue
that export controls are effective only if they are adhered to by all states capable of
exporting a given technology. The machine tool industry has been at the forefront
in criticizing the unilateral nature of our export policies, especially concerning
exports to China. It notes that there is no consensus among Wassenaar Arrangement
countries on the proper limits of technology transfer to China. (Indeed, no country
is explicitly targeted by Wassenaar.) Stringent domestic controls combined with
minimal multilateral constraints only damage American companies, according to
industry spokesmen. They fault the U.S. for having an overly rigorous licensing
policy towards China, without noticeably pursuing a strategy to convince our allies
to follow our lead.38
Proponents of tighter export restrictions note that America traditionally has
taken the lead in export controls and non-proliferation efforts. These efforts included
the original EAA, adopted in 1949, and the establishment of CoCom, the multilateral
Coordinating Committee of western powers that restricted technology exports to the
Soviet bloc during the Cold War. They argue that efforts to strengthen CoCom’s
successor regime, the Wassenaar arrangement, cannot succeed if Washington itself
is loosening export restrictions. Thus, the United States must take the lead in order
to convince other nations to follow the U.S. example. Adherents of this viewpoint
argue that the successful negotiating strategy in these multilateral fora is to adopt
controls first and then persuade other countries to follow suit. Hence in their view,
an export control strategy pegged solely on the policies of other nations, negotiated
by consensus, is ineffectual and harmful to national security.39
Proponents of stricter technology transfer policies claim that multilateral control
efforts are beginning to show results. They cite a 1999 CIA Report which noted that
For example, see Douglass, John W., Prepared Statement, Aerospace Industry
Association, Reauthorization, p.113, 115.
See Freedenberg, Paul Testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, February 7,
Milhollin, prepared, p. 7.
“increasingly rigorous and effective export controls and cooperation among supplier
countries have led foreign weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs to look
elsewhere for many controlled dual-use goods.”40 Meanwhile, according to some
experts, the U.S. has lost credibility with other nations regarding the American
commitment to export control. A senior staffer on the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee reportedly opined, “We’ve applied stringent [export controls] while
exhorting other nations to do likewise, and when these countries are finally
committed to follow suit, some within the Department of Defense [and the
Commerce Department] want to reverse [that position] by pursuing massive
liberalization. It makes no sense.”41
Both industry spokesmen and advocates of heightened export controls agree that
the multilateral controls need to be strengthened. Yet, to do this requires consensus
on which goods and which countries represent a threat. There does seem to be
agreement among western nations to restrict dual-use items to a limited number of
‘countries of concern,’42 yet consensus breaks down with regard to other states,
notably China.43 The export control dilemma in this context becomes clear. Without
consensus on a particular target country, the question becomes whether the United
States should impose controls unilaterally. One then needs to determine either:
which non-proliferation or other foreign policy goals are sufficiently important to
offset possibly damaging American business, and possibly costing American jobs;
or how large an economic benefit would justify risking important national security
The optimal export control system is another key issue for consideration. Under
the current system, the Department of Commerce receives applications for licenses
of dual-use goods. The Department then refers license applications to other agencies,
as it considers appropriate, for review within a specified time period, but these
agencies cannot veto a license application. A disputed application is referred to an
interagency committee (the operating committee), the chair of which is selected by
the Secretary of Commerce. A dissenting member may seek to appeal a decision
through a policy official of his or her own department.44 This procedure has been
adopted in S. 149.45 However, H.R. 2581, as amended by the House Armed Services
Director of Central Intelligence, “Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of
Technology Relating Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions,
1 January through 30 June 1999,” p. 10.
Marshall Billingslea, quoted in Gary G. Yerkley, “Republican Efforts to Work Out Deal
on Senate EAA Bill Appear to have Failed,” 17 International Trade Reporter 698, May 4,
Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, and Sudan.
Grimmett, p. 4-6.
Executive Order, 12981, “Administration of Export Controls,” December 6, 1995.
See S. 149, Sec. 402 (b).
Committee, provides for an agency veto by requiring unanimity in licensing
Industry testimony emphasizes the delays and inefficiency associated with this
application and review process and the competitive pressure it places on them. The
satellite industry has complained that delays in the licensing procedures at the
Department of State not only may have lost the satellite industry nearly half its
business,46 but imperils national security by threatening the ability to provide future
service to the U.S. military.47 Joe Tasker, government affairs vice-president of
Compaq Computer, spoke about delays in licensing computer equipment: “It slows
us down. It’s a time-to-market issue. Days matter in this business.”48 Resistance to
licensing five axis lathes by the Commerce Department, according to the machine
tool industry, has ceded this market to the Europeans and Japanese.49 These
anecdotes are used by industry representatives to bolster their demands for
streamlined procedures and faster licensing decisions.
Other critics of the current system contend that the interagency dispute
procedures regarding commodity classification and license applications do not
adequately address national security concerns. They have argued that if the license
review process is done for national security purposes, then the national security
agencies should command greater respect in those deliberations.50 Senator
Thompson has described the review process as one “designed basically for
Commerce to get its way and ... a process designed basically to discourage appeal.”51
Some proponents of tighter export controls claim that the process continues to be
slanted towards Commerce because its representatives chair the operating
committees, and because the Department, in their view, has shown an institutional
bias in promoting exports over national security considerations.
The placement of items on the Commerce Control List has also proved
controversial. Under the current system, classification decisions are referred by
Commerce to the DOD and other relevant agencies if questions arise about an item’s
use. The Secretary of Defense does not have the ability to place items on this list, nor
to block items from removal by the Secretary of Commerce.
Aerospace Industries Association, Press Release, July 5, 2000. In response to revelations
of improper transfer of space and satellite technology to the Chinese, Congress moved the
authority to issue licenses for satellite exports from the Department of Commerce back to
the State Department, 1999 National Defense Authorization Act, P.L. 105-261, 22 U.S.C.
“Supporters Cite National Security in Export Legislation,” by Jeremy Singer, Defense
News, May 29, 2000.
Quoted in Hachman, Mark, “EIA backs export-controls overhaul,” Electronic Buyer’s
News, April 16, 1999, [http://www.ebnews.com/story/OEG19990416S0027].
Freedenberg, op cit.
Milhollin, p. 8.
Opening Statement, “The Inspector General’s Report on Export Control Processes for
Dual-Use and Munitions List Items,” Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, June 23,
1999, p. 3.
Critics of the classification procedures claim that under the current system the
Defense Department has not been adequately consulted. They point to a Defense
Inspector General’s report which found that in a three-year period only 12 cases had
been referred to DOD for input out of thousands processed. The Acting Inspector
General testified, “Commerce referred far too few commodity classification reports
to the Department of Defense and has made decisions...without having any review
discussion with the department.”52 Defense has expressed the concern that if
Commerce assesses an item not to be subject to classification, the Defense
Department will never know of its consideration.53
Some national security experts consider it essential that DOD be consulted on
the licensing and classification of items as a way to keep informed about potential
threats of technology transfer. The export control process takes on a greater
significance in providing this information as the military originates less technological
innovation. Without this window on the destination and types of exports, these
experts contend, it becomes increasingly difficult to conduct accurate threat
assessments.54 In this context, the creation of a database to monitor trends and
destinations of dual-use materials has been suggested as a tool to aid in the detection
of troublesome proliferation activity.
S. 149, with some exceptions, substantially adopt the current export control
framework. It does not disturb the parallel classification system that places
munitions and military equipment under the separate control of the State Department.
As noted above, many observers have questioned the central role played by the
Commerce Department in reviewing the national security implications of exports.
However, the division between commercial and military competencies is defended
as “appropriate” by industry spokespersons55 who fear a repeat of the bottlenecks and
delays associated with the transfer of satellites licensing from Commerce to State.
Commerce officials in the Clinton administration opposed any further transfer of
sensitive dual-use items (such as carve-out items) to the State Department’s
Munitions List. “It is not practicable or desirable to treat commercial export sales as
munitions transfers...You cannot successfully ‘tweak’ a system that was designed for
a fundamentally different purpose.”56
Mancuso, Donald, Acting Inspector General, DOD, testimony before the Senate Armed
Services Committee, March 23, 2000, transcript p. 32.
Bodner, James, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, testimony before the
Senate Armed Services Committee, February 28, 2000, transcript p. 46.
Conversation with Bill Greenwalt, August 17, 2000; See also Marshall Billingslea, quoted
in Kutner, Joshua, “State Department Defends Stance on Export Policy,” National Defense,
For example, see McCurdy, Dave, Prepared Testimony in Hearings on a New Act for a
New World Order: Reassessing the Export Administration Act, House International
Relations Committee, Subcommittee on International Trade and Finance, March 3, 1999,
William Reinsch, former Assistant Secretary for Export Administration, quoted in
“Commerce Department’s Reinsch on Export-Control Issues Ahead,” USIS Washington
Some observers advocate the consolidation of dual-use and weapons export
control functions into a single existing agency or in a newly established agency; this
view is prevalent among industry officials concerned with the expeditious review of
licenses57 or those suspicious of Commerce’s commitment to national security
review. The placement of the export control portfolio in any of the existing agencies
likely would prompt fierce opposition from rival agencies, as well as from
stakeholders who perceive a loss of influence from the change.
The creation of a new agency devoted to export control and non-proliferation
might avoid some of the rivalries associated with the current situation. Supporters
of this idea claim that it would allow for greater integration of export control policies
with other foreign policy objectives. A single agency could remove the perception
that different agencies have different export control ‘agendas’. Yet, such single
mindedness would likely be seen as a drawback for adherents to whichever policy
‘agenda’ is not followed. Diffuse competencies provide venues to air different
perspectives. An issue neglected or ignored under a unitary framework may find a
champion under the current system.58
Another administrative reform proposal is to replace the current emphasis on
licensing with intelligence and interdiction efforts. Former Assistant Secretary of
Defense John Hamre has stated that if 99.8% of licenses are approved, then there are
too many items of a non-critical nature requiring licenses.59 Richard Perle has
suggested diverting resources from what he considers an ineffective licensing scheme
to spending those funds on intelligence and interdiction efforts to prevent
proliferating states from obtaining sensitive technology.60 Yet, to the Defense
Department, licensing serves an important monitoring function, and for that reason,
it is seeking guarantees of consultation in the present debate.
Options for Congress
Congress can address the issue of export controls in several ways. They range
from modifying the current structure to a wholesale rewrite of our export control
laws. These options are not mutually exclusive.
Retain the Status Quo. Congress can maintain EAA79 through continual
temporary extensions. This solution addresses the problems associated with enforcing
export controls through IEEPA, but it continues a system designed for different
File, July 10, 2000, [http://www.usinfo.state.gov/].
Douglass, prepared, p. 6-7.
See Theodore Galdi, Proliferation Export Control Regimes: Options for Coordination or
Consolidation, CRS Report 93-429, April 20, 1993, p. 5.
Kutner, op cit. This figure refers to the percentage of applications approved with
conditions out of the 75% of applications approved in 1998.
Forum on Technology and Innovation, op cit.
strategic circumstances than those faced today. The expiration of EAA79 on August
20, 2001 presents another option: a return to the process evolved during the last
expiration period of EAA (1994-2000). The President can declare an economic
emergency under IEEPA every six months, and the EAR can continue. Under this
option, the Administration retains greater latitude in the implementation and
enforcement of export controls. Yet, IEEPA’s relatively weaker penalties and
enforcement provisions would return in force. A recent court’s declaration that DOC
cannot enforce the confidentiality provision of the expired EAA may prove a
harbinger of future difficulties in continuing to apply the act in this manner.
Rewrite and Modernize EAA79. Congress can consider legislation such as
S. 149 or H.R. 2581 whose aim is to modernize the current export control framework
to reflect the end of the Cold War and the changed dynamics of technology.
Congress may also embark on a more sweeping revision of export controls that may
lead to a different organizational structure, to different approaches regarding control
or to a new consensus on the role of technology in national security policy.
The Minimalist Approach. Congress can pass legislation to delegate export
control authority with certain policy guidelines. The President would create the
bureaucratic and enforcement mechanisms deemed necessary. Congress could
conduct rigorous oversight to assure compliance with the policies contained in the
Piecemeal Revision. Congress can address specific shortcomings of the current
framework by amending IEEPA language to increase penalties or to provide greater
enforcement powers in the event that EAA79 is not reauthorized. Congress can also
legislate export control policy to certain destinations or on certain commodities. It
can restrict items of concern, such as the carve-out items, to countries of concern,
such as China or the ‘rogue’ states. This approach, however, would not provide a
broad-based or predictable export control structure.
Stronger Multilateral Controls. All stakeholders agree on the need for
tougher international arrangements. They believe Wassenaar needs to be strengthened
into a consultative body, rather than what many participants now consider simply a
notification arrangement. It has been claimed that the western allies have tightened
restrictions in recent years to the ‘countries of concern.’ However, there is no
consensus on tightening exports to China. A stronger multilateral regime
internationally could be consistent with other export legislation Congress may