ABOVE: Chashma Nuclear Plant
Louisiana-based DeepSouth Hardware Solutions, an aftermarket provider of parts for power plant control systems, agreed to pay a $32,000 fine to settle charges by the Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) that DeepSouth had shipped automatic control instruments classified as ECCN 1B999 to a company on BIS’s Entity List. The problem, however, is that the entity involved isn’t clearly on the Entity List.
Specifically, the Charging Letter stated:
On or about July 27, 2007, Deepsouth engaged in conduct prohibited by the Regulations when it exported parts . . . classified under Export Control Classification Number 1B999 to the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission’s Chashma Nuclear Power Plant, an entity on the Entity List set forth in Supplement No. 4 to Part 744 of the Regulations, without . . . Department of Commerce licenses.
Let’s take a look at the Entity List and see if we can find Chashma Nuclear Power Plant anywhere on the list. Here is the entry for the PAEC to which BIS is presumably referring:
Nope, not there. We’ve got the National Development Complex (and its nuclear power plants) and the Pakistan Institute for Nuclear Science and Technology. And given that the list refers to the “following subordinate entities,” the plain meaning would be that NDC and PINSTECH are the only subordinate entities of the PAEC on the list.
Or maybe not. If you put a period after NDC and then remove the indentation of the line starting with “nuclear power plants,” the entity listing takes on a new meaning and now would be read as the NDC, PINSTECH and any PAEC nuclear power plants, a reading that would include Chashma. As BIS noted in the Charging letter:
The Chashma Nuclear Power Plant was identified on the order form it submitted to Deepsouth as an entity affiliated with the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission.
If BIS is going to fine exporters for lack of care in exporting, then BIS needs to take appropriate care with its own lists and rules and write them using standard English punctuation that would avoid this sort of needless ambiguity. Punctuation is not an optional affectation of the literate elite but rather is an integral part of written English that changes the meaning of what is written. As the title of this post shows, take out the two commas and BIS might be the name of a panda instead of someone who dines, fires a gun, and makes a hasty exit.