U.S. to revamp export system to enhance national security

08:23, April 21, 2010      

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U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday that the United States will revamp its Cold War era export control system to enhance national security.

Gates made the statement to members of Business Executives for National Security at a Washington function. He said the current export control system does not adequately protect crucial American capabilities and makes it nearly impossible to quickly share needed capabilities with allies and partners.

"The United States is thought to have one of the most stringent export regimes in the world, but stringent is not the same as effective," Gates said, noting the current export-control system is a Cold War artifact, and not set up to deal effectively with 21st century situations.

Gates proposed a tiered approach to export control that he said would allow the United States to build higher walls around sensitive defense technologies while lowering walls around others.

"Our plan relies on four key reforms: a single export-control list, a single licensing agency, a single enforcement/coordination agency and a single information technology system," Gates said.

The United States currently has two export-control lists, with one maintained at the State Department and the other by Commerce.

After Gates made the statement, the White House released a fact sheet outlining key recommendations of an interagency study directed by President Barack Obama on export control.

"The assessment found that the current U.S. export control system does not sufficiently reduce national security risk based on the fact that its structure is overly complicated, contains too many redundancies, and tries to protect too much," the fact sheet said, proposing a phased reform of the system.

The fact sheet said the goal of the reform is "to build high walls around a smaller yard" by focusing enforcement efforts on a few "crown jewels."

"The single list, combined with a single licensing agency, would allow us to concentrate on controlling those critical technologies and items -- the 'crown jewels' -- that are the basis for maintaining our military technology advantage, especially technologies and items that no foreign government or company can duplicate," Gates said.



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