U.S. Export controls

These materials are devoted to the longstanding debate over U.S. export controls. In the main, they treat the question whether export controls should be strengthened or weakened. The materials are separated into three parts:

 

Policy and Legislation

Testimony on the Export Administration Act:
A Review of Outstanding Policy Considerations

7/9/09 - Before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade
This testimony will cover four topics. First, the importance of strong and effective export controls for U.S. national security; second, the resources and authorities required to enable our export control officials to do their jobs properly; third, the need to improve industry's ability to police itself; and fourth, ways to address the risks of transshipment and diversion at home and abroad.
Newest Designation Reinforces Concerns About Validated End-User Program (PDF) 6/10/09 - Wisconsin Project Report. Newest Validated End-User designation by the U.S. Commerce Department in China presents risk of diversion to Iran or Syria.
Testimony on Export Compliance: Ensuring Safety, Increasing Efficiency 5/20/08 - Before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade
This testimony will cover four topics. First, the dangers posed by the administration’s present effort to weaken the export licensing process; second, the need to improve industry's ability to police itself; third, the difficulties that will be created for verification and enforcement as the government continues to reduce licensing requirements; and fourth, the risks of transshipment and diversion posed by places like Dubai.
The Entity List: Annotated 4/08 - Wisconsin Project Analysis. The current U.S. Commerce Department's Entity List has been annotated by the Wisconsin Project to increase its usefulness as a screening tool for exporters.

In China We Trust? (PDF)

Diagrams: BHA and HHNEC (PDF)

1/08 - Wisconsin Project Report. In mid-October, the U.S. Commerce Department began to allow certain “trusted” companies in China to receive militarily useful products from the United States without obtaining an export license that would otherwise be required. Of the first five companies approved, however, two (forty percent of the total) do not meet the selection criteria. They are affiliated closely to China’s military industrial complex and to companies that have been punished by the U.S. government for proliferation or other improper export behavior.

U.S. failure to follow through on Iran sanctions is baffling

5/31/07 - World Politics Review. The United States now lags other countries in enforcing U.N. sanctions against Iran. 

A bad deal of mythic proportions

11/8/06 - Wisconsin Project Commentary.  The Senate should reject the new nuclear trade pact with India.

Seventeen Myths about the Indian Nuclear Deal

6/13/06 - Wisconsin Project Report. Under a deal with India made in July 2005, the United States would endorse India’s nuclear weapon effort in exchange for benefits that have proved difficult to define.

Testimony on U.S. India Nuclear Cooperation

4/26/06 - Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
This legislation puts the United States at risk.  It is impossible to weaken export controls for India without weakening them for everyone else. The “everyone else” includes Iran, Pakistan, and even terrorist groups that might want to buy the means to make mass destruction weapons.

Written response to questions regarding U.S.-India nuclear cooperation

4/26/06 - Response to written questions from Senator Joseph Biden, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Under the administration's plan, India would be treated better than both nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states. In effect, the United States will, in nuclear matters, treat India better than any other country in the world.

A Shell Game in the Arms Race

2/25/05 - New York Times.  Although the administration has scolded China for allowing its companies to spread weapons technology, such talk is undermined by the State Department's own failure to check Chinese companies' reckless sales. 

Iraq's WMD Programs and Export Controls

9/19/02 - Before the House Committee on Armed Services
In reaction to the attacks on September 11, the United States should search for ways to strengthen controls on the sales of products that terrorists need to make weapons of mass destruction. Instead, this bill would authorize the Commerce Department to drop export controls on the very items that our enemies would most like to use against us.

Sabotaging Security for a Buck

7/30/02 - Los Angeles Times.  The Bush administration improperly relied on false industry data to lower the barriers on the export of America’s most powerful computers--machines that could be used to build the most fearsome weapons terrorists could get their hands on.

Trading with the Enemy

5/02 - Commentary Magazine.  The White House is pushing a bill in Congress that would make it easier for terrorists and the nations that support them to obtain weapons of mass destruction.

Reauthorizing the Export Administration Act

2/28/02 - Before the House Committee on Armed Services 
Unlike our present law, the proposed new Export Administration Act does not strike a balance between national security and freedom of trade.  Instead, it is a one-sided list of provisions advocated by commercial interests that have long opposed any form of export control.  If the bill passes, it would essentially dismantle the system of export control that the United States has built up over the past half-century.  

Grab for Money Could Arm Enemies of the U.S.

3/4/01 - Los Angeles Times.  As the Bush administration tries to counter "rogue nations," a Senate committee is pushing a bill that would make it easier for such nations to make nuclear weapons, chemical weapons and the missiles to deliver them.

The Export Administration Act of 2000

3/23/00 - Before the Senate Committee on Armed Services
The Committee has asked for comments on S. 1712. If this bill were enacted it would overturn and to a great extent nullify the system of export controls that the United States has built up over the past half-century. S. 1712 is a list of provisions advocated by commercial interests that have long opposed any form of export control. It would be more accurate to call the bill the "Export Decontrol Act."

Outfitting China's Military - Again

1/23/00 - Los Angeles Times.  Why does the U.S. Commerce Department want to allow a suspect Swiss conglomerate to sell a sensitive American product to a Chinese military aircraft plant? 

What China Didn't Need to Steal

5/05/99 - New York Times.  The U.S. Commerce Department approved more than $15 billion worth of strategically sensitive exports to China in the last decade, much of which went directly to Chinese nuclear, missile, and military sites.

Reauthorization of the Export Administration Act

4/14/99 - Before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Subcommittee on International Trade and Finance
Export control is not a jobs issue. Of the total American economy, less than two tenths of one percent ($10.7 billion) went through Commerce Department licensing in 1994, and more than 95% of applications were approved. Only $141 million in applications were denied in 1994--which is less than one hundredth of one percent of the U.S. economy and roughly equal to six percent of the cost of one B-2 bomber. The figures today are the same. Reducing export controls will not stimulate the U.S. economy; it will only stimulate the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. 

Executive Summary

Section I, Part A - Dual-Use American Equipment Licensed for Export to China, 1988 - 1998 (PDF)

Section I, Part B - U.S. Equipment Approved for Chinese Nuclear, Missile or Military Sites
(PDF)

Section II - Espionage and Diversions (PDF)

Section III - China: The Strategic Outlook (PDF)

Section IV - China's Dangerous Exports(PDF)

4/99 - Wisconsin Project Report. U.S. Exports to China 1988-1998: Fueling Proliferation

During the past decade, the U.S. Commerce Department approved more than $15 billion worth of strategically sensitive U.S. exports to the People's Republic of China. The exports included equipment that can be used to design nuclear weapons, process nuclear material, machine nuclear weapon components, improve missile designs, build missile components and transmit data from missile tests. Some of this equipment went directly to leading nuclear, missile and military sites -- the main vertebrae of China's strategic backbone. And several of these Chinese buyers later supplied nuclear, missile and military equipment to Iran and Pakistan.

Stop Exporting Nuclear Technology

10/14/98 - Los Angeles Times.  U.S experts have identified nearly 200 Indian and Pakistani organizations that are key to bomb and missile making, but after announcing that U.S. sales to such firms would be cut off--a step required by U.S. law--the Clinton administration is still dithering.

Cooperation in Space and Missiles

6/25/98 - Before the House Committee on Science
This testimony will discuss the U.S. policy of cooperation with foreign space programs and the risk that it will contribute to the spread of missile technology.  The history of India's biggest nuclear missile, the Agni, proves that you cannot help a country build space launchers without helping it build missiles.

China's Proliferation Record

6/17/98 - Before the House Committees on International Relations and National Security
We have heard a lot about satellites lately, but what we have not heard is that the Clinton Administration has decided to give Chinese companies a green light to sell missile technology to countries like Iran and Pakistan.

US Satellite Exports and China

6/11/98 - Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Our sanctions laws are based on a simple idea. A foreign company cannot import American missile technology with one hand and proliferate missile technology with the other. That idea has now been abandoned by the executive branch. When the Administration transferred licensing authority over satellites from the State Department to the Commerce Department, satellites were effectively removed from the U.S. exports subject to missile sanctions.

The Pitfalls of Nuclear Trade with China

2/22/98 - Boston Sunday Globe.  Congress debates approval of President Clinton's recent pact allowing nuclear trade with China. Will the deal encourage China to continue exporting weapons of mass destruction?

China's Cynical Calculation

4/24/95 - New York Times.  The United States has sniffed out a series of secret shipments of Chinese poison-gas ingredients to Iran over the last three years but has declined to impose sanctions on Beijing.

Arsenals Abroad: Proliferation in Disguise

7/18/94 - New York Times.  The House takes up a bill that would make it easier for bomb-prone nations to import the means to make nuclear weapons, chemical weapons and the missiles to deliver them.

Renewing the Export Administration Act

6/15/94 - Before the House Committee on Armed Services
The Export Administration Act is now before Congress, which should remind us that export controls are needed more than ever. It is illogical to say that because the Cold War is over, proliferation is the main international threat, and then to say that export controls, one of the best ways of containing that threat, should be reduced.

25 Myths about Export Control 3/94 - Wisconsin Project Report. The Export Administration Act is now before Congress and a group of American exporters has mounted an unprecedented campaign to weaken this vital law. If they succeed, developing countries will find it easier to build atomic bombs and long-range missiles under the Clinton administration than they did under either presidents Bush or Reagan.

Selling Self-Destruction: The Perils of Perry & Co.

2/6/94 - Washington Post.  William Perry, the new Secretary of Defense, makes no secret of his hostility to export controls, which are essential to stopping the spread of nuclear arms.

US Exports to Iraq

10/27/92 - Before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs
The Committee has asked whether American exports aided Iraq's effort to build weapons of mass destruction. The short answer is "yes." In June 1991, my organization released a study of the dual-use exports that the U.S. Commerce Department had approved for Iraq since 1985. I would like to offer the study today for inclusion in this committee's hearing record.  

Winking at Proliferation

8/16/92 - Washington Post.  The Bush administration has published a list purporting to name the world's most dangerous rocket projects so that U.S. firms will not sell material to them. However, after political arm-twisting by foreign governments, the administration has deleted the name of every dangerous project in the Mideast.

Missiles Too Dangerous to Name 8/92 - Wisconsin Project Report. On June 16, 1992 the U.S. Department of Commerce published its long-awaited list of missile projects in the Third World. The list was supposed to name secret missile makers, and thus deny them U.S. exports. Instead, the administration bowed to pressure from Israel and other special interests.

Iraq's Bomb, Chip by Chip

4/24/92 - New York Times.  A list of sensitive American products licensed between 1985 and 1990 for export to Iraq by the U.S. Commerce Department.  Virtually all of the items were shipped, all are useful for making atomic bombs or long-range missiles, and all went to buyers linked to A-bomb or missile manufacture.

Exports and Terrorism
US Export Licenses to Iran, September 1990 to September 1991
1/92 - Wisconsin Project Report. From September 1990 to September 1991, the U.S. Department of Commerce approved nearly $60 million dollars' worth of sensitive exports to Iran. Most of these items were "dual use," meaning that in addition to their civilian uses, they can be used to make nuclear weapons, long-range missiles or other military equipment. 
Licensing Mass Destruction
US Exports to Iraq, 1985-1990
6/91 - Wisconsin Project Report. The U.S. Department of Commerce licensed more than $1.5 billion worth of sensitive U.S. exports to Iraq from 1985 to 1990. Most were "dual-use" items, capable of making nuclear weapons or long-range missiles if diverted from their claimed civilian purposes. This report shows that U.S. export controls suffered a massive breakdown in the period preceding the Gulf War. When U.S. planes were sent to destroy Iraq's strategic sites, much of the equipment they bombed was made in the United States.

Must the U.S. Give Brazil and Iraq The Bomb?

7/29/90 - New York Times.  Senior officials in the Commerce and State Departments are supporting I.B.M.’s irresponsible attempt to put a supercomputer into the hands of a Brazilian team that is helping Iraq build long-range missiles and that could help it build atomic bombs.

Attention, Nuke-Mart Shoppers!

7/22/90 - Washington Post.  Through an apparent oversight, the Bush administration agreed in a Cocom meeting in June to decontrol 30 categories of strategic equipment--most of which are on the dream list of Third World bomb makers.

 

Comments on Regulations

Comments on Foreign Policy-Based Export Control (specifically the Entity List) (PDF) 10/8/08 - BIS should adopt the Project's recommendations in order to ensure the required utility of the Entity List as an accurate and current front-line screening tool for exporters.

Comments on the U.S. Commerce Department’s proposal concerning the Entity List (PDF)

7/30/07 - BIS should supply as much information as possible for each entry on the Entity List – including all known aliases and contact information. This would make it more difficult for such entities to evade export controls.

Comments on the U.S. Commerce Department’s proposed Country Group C:  Destinations of Diversion Concern (PDF)

3/12/07 - The United Arab Emirates should be among the first countries designated in Country Group C. Such a listing, accompanied by effective U.S. export restrictions, may prompt the U.A.E. to move toward implementing export and transit controls.

Comments on the U.S. Commerce Department’s proposed "China Rule" (authorizing Validated End Users) (PDF)

10/27/06 - It is not in the interest of the United States to allow its products to help China build up its military strength. We recommend that the proposed rule be withdrawn.

 

Supercomputers  

Sabotaging Security for a Buck

7/30/02 - Los Angeles Times.  The Bush administration improperly relied on false industry data to lower the barriers on the export of the United States' most powerful computers--machines that could be used to build the most fearsome weapons that terrorists could get their hands on.

Fast Computers, Deadly Enemies

1/31/01 - New York Times.  President Bush should overturn President Clinton’s last-minute gift to Silicon Valley, a move to lower controls on the export of America's most powerful computers.

Clinton's Super Computer Push

9/19/00 - Asian Wall Street Journal.  After being lobbied by the U.S. computer industry, President Clinton lowered barriers that control the export of American supercomputers. Arms makers in China will soon be able to buy computers up to 14 times more powerful than the ones they were able to get only eight months ago.

Exporting Trouble: With Looser Computer Controls, We're Selling Our Safety Short

3/12/00 - Washington Post.  The Clinton administration drops controls on the sale of powerful American supercomputers to foreign weapon makers.

Supercomputer Export Controls

10/28/99 - Before the House Committee on Armed Services
This Committee should be proud of taking the lead on what is now known as the "NDAA process." The notification process has stopped a number of dangerous exports without imposing any real burden on industry--the very definition of a good export control system.

Helping Others Build the Bomb

12/14/98 - Washington Post.  The Clinton administration has decontrolled the export of supercomputers based on a faulty study that GAO says "lacked empirical evidence or analysis" and failed to "assess the capabilities of countries . . . to use high-performance computers for military and other national security applications." 

Should We Sell Supercomputers to Algeria?

4/24/98 - New York Times.  The Clinton Administration quietly circumvents a law designed to keep American supercomputers away from third world bomb and missile makers.

New U.S. Controls on Supercomputers

1/98 - Risk Report.  At the Wisconsin Project’s urging, Congress rolls back the Clinton administration’s effort to decontrol the export of American supercomputers.

Supercomputer Export Controls

11/13/97 - Before the House Committee on National Security
Silicon Graphics, Inc. has recently shipped four American supercomputers to Chelyabinsk-70, the second most famous nuclear weapon laboratory in Russia, without obtaining the required U.S. export licenses. Chelyabinsk claims to have developed the world's most powerful hydrogen bomb. These machines will allow Russia to design nuclear warheads cheaper and faster through simulations and to design more accurate long-range missiles.

Selling US Supercomputers

4/15/97 - Before the House Committee on National Security,
Subcommittee on Military Procurement

The Subcommittee has asked me to describe supercomputer sales that have happened recently, and to assess their impact on U.S. national security. Viktor Mikhailov, Russia's Minister of Atomic Energy, announced recently that his ministry had managed to buy powerful American supercomputers for Russia's nuclear weapon laboratories.

Rein In Technology Exports

2/26/97 - Los Angeles Times.  It should come as no surprise that Russian scientists are now designing nuclear weapons with powerful American supercomputers. When California-based Silicon Graphics improperly outfitted one of Russia's nuclear laboratories last fall, it was the inevitable result of the Clinton administration's penchant for putting export earnings above national security.

U.S. Says "No" to Supercomputers for Russia's Nuclear Weapon Labs

11/96 - Risk Report.  The Clinton administration refuses to allow the Russian nuclear weapon laboratories to buy American supercomputers, after the Wisconsin Project reveals the pending sale in the New York Times.

Exporting an Arms Race

02/20/96 - New York Times.  The White House is about to take one of the greatest national security gambles since the end of the cold war. To please the computer industry, the Clinton Administration is preparing to send powerful American supercomputers to Russian nuclear weapon laboratories.

Supercomputers: Pentagon Urges Reduction in Controls

10/95 - Risk Report.  The Pentagon urges other federal agencies to agree to reduce export controls on American supercomputers.

Japan Should Refuse American Pressure to Decontrol Supercomputers

9/28/95 - Yomiuri Shimbun (English translation).  The United States is getting ready to pressure Japan into lowering export controls on supercomputers, the most powerful instruments used to design nuclear and other advanced weapons. Japan should not agree unless it wants to undermine its own security.

Fire Sale

9/18/95 - New York Times.  The Defense Department will make it easier for Russia and China to improve their nuclear arsenals if it wins a quiet debate over exporting supercomputers, the most powerful instruments used to develop high-tech weapons.

Designing the Third World Bomb

Winter 1990-91 - Wisconsin Academy Review.  A small group of U.S. officials may heighten the proliferation threat by approving the export of U.S. supercomputers to Brazil, Israel, and India.

Must the U.S. Give Brazil and Iraq The Bomb?

7/29/90 - New York Times.  Senior officials in the Commerce and State Departments are supporting I.B.M.’s irresponsible attempt to put a supercomputer into the hands of a Brazilian team that is helping Iraq build long-range missiles and that could help it build atomic bombs.