Archive for the ‘CCL’ Category



EU Moves Ahead on Intrusion Software; BIS Holds Back

Posted by at 7:57 pm on November 11, 2014
Category: BISCCLEUSurreptitious Listening Devices

By Sébastien Bertrand ( [CC-BY-2.0 ( or CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons October 22, the European Commission amended its List of Dual Use Items to include controls on “intrusion software” which the Wassenaar Plenary adopted in December 2013 and which we reported here. The new list, and the export controls on intrusion software, will go into effect after 60 days from October 22 unless the E.U. Council or Parliament interpose objections.

That, of course, raises the question about where the United States is on adopting these controls. Initially spokespersons for the Bureau of Industry and Security indicated that the rules on intrusion detection hardware and software would be out in September. Well, September and October have both come and gone and there is no sign of new rules on this issue.

Of course, at least part of what Wassenaar defined as intrusion software is already controlled in the United States under ECCN 5D980, which was adopted in December 2007 and which controls surreptitious listening software. But 5D980 does not control, as the new controls on intrusion detection software would, software performing “the modification of the standard execution path of a program or process in order to allow the execution of externally provided instructions.” The scope of the definition of intrusion software is undeniably broad and susceptible of covering some unobjectionable types of software, so it seems clear the BIS must be struggling with how to handle the breadth of the definition and limited unintended consequences.

Permalink Comments Off on EU Moves Ahead on Intrusion Software; BIS Holds Back

Bookmark and Share

Copyright © 2014 Clif Burns. All Rights Reserved.
(No republication, syndication or use permitted without my consent.)



Daily News Attempts Export Humor; Bombs

Posted by at 4:25 pm on March 13, 2014
Category: BISCCLNorth Korea Sanctions

By Jared Kofsky (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons must have been a slow news day on Tuesday for the New York Daily News, because the aging tabloid decided to try its hand at export humor. As you might imagine, things did not go well for the paper.

The attempt occurred in a feature called “Your Cheat Sheet,” which appears in a blog called “The Swamp” and looks at important events in DC. You know, so-and-so is testifying on the Hill, Prime Minister Muckety-Muck of Lower Lithovakia meets with USDA officials, etc.   With that in mind, we present the joke in full:

Breaking News, so let’s parachute Anderson Cooper into: the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security holds a meeting of the Materials Processing Equipment Technical Advisory Committee to “discuss technical questions that affect the level of export controls applicable to materials processing equipment and related technology.”

[Insert sad trombone sound here.]

Okay, so see the Daily News writer thought it was just hilarious that somebody would meet about “materials processing equipment and related technology.” That’s like a meeting, you know, on polynomial equations or plasma actuators or other silly egghead stuff for nerdy bureaucrats. Losers!!!  Bring in that Anderson Cooper fellow to cover this really groundbreaking story, etc., etc.

One person who doesn’t think exports controls on “materials processing equipment and related technology” is a laughing matter is the Nork Dictator Kim-Jong Un. The UN Panel Report discussed in yesterday’s post noted that a key obstacle to Nork nuclear ambitions, and a key incentive for the country’s efforts to evade international sanctions, is that “it lacks sufficient domestic precision machine tool manufacturing capability” needed for building missiles and uranium enrichment facilities. That’s the equipment that’s in — yep, you got it — Category 2 of the Commerce Control List which covers “materials processing equipment and technology.”

The morale of this story is, of course, that export control humor should be left to the professionals.

Permalink Comments (1)

Bookmark and Share

Copyright © 2014 Clif Burns. All Rights Reserved.
(No republication, syndication or use permitted without my consent.)



With All Eyes on Sochi, Russian Ears Are on Ukraine

Posted by at 8:49 pm on February 11, 2014
Category: BISCCLExport ReformSurreptitious Listening Devices [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The continuing violence and political instability in Ukraine have raised concerns around the world, especially within the United States and the EU.  Whether some form of sanctions against current officials in the Ukrainian government should be imposed has been debated over the past several weeks, including reports that the Obama administration began preparing financial sanctions against current Ukrainian government officials last month.

Sanctions against Ukrainian officials are, of course, a delicate diplomatic endeavor for EU countries that not only trade extensively with Ukraine but also recognize the effects to EU-Russian relations with any rancor that develops by proxy in former Soviet states.  Such targeted EU or U.S. sanctions, moreover, amount to blocking funds that are unlikely to be found in large amounts in Western banks and a travel ban on individuals who were not likely to travel to the West in the near future in any event.

The telephone conversation posted to YouTube late last week between U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt, U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, however, exposed just how heated a resolution in Ukraine is becoming between the United States and the EU.  In discussing how officials from the United Nations may assist in reaching a resolution between the current Ukrainian government and opposition leaders, Nuland has now infamously said, “f**k the EU,” presumably an expression of her view that EU involvement thus far to address the situation in Ukraine has been inadequate.  As if that were not enough for diplomatic missteps, it has also been reported that Nuland and Pyatt each used unencrypted cell phones during the conversation.

While the fallout of Nuland’s comments and the Obama Administration’s finger-pointing at Russia for its involvement in hacking the phone call will garner the headlines, the issue also presents an interesting juncture for a shadowy subject of U.S. export controls: surreptitious listening devices.

As we first reported over seven years ago, BIS has not always been sufficiently clear on its standards for classifying surreptitious listening devices that are subject to the EAR’s control under section 742.13.  In Export Control Reform materials presented by BIS last year, BIS articulated five questions to assist exporters in answering the ultimate question, “Is my item subject to the 742.13 Communications Interception policy?”  Those questions, however, don’t help advance the ball much in improving a U.S. exporter’s ability in classifiying surreptitious listening devices short of seeking clarification or a license from BIS.

The United States may never determine what devices were involved in intercepting the Nuland-Pyatt conversation.  Moreover, the “tradecraft,” as Nuland described the interception, may very well continue to develop in ways that outpace any technical specifications that BIS affixes to surreptitious listening devices.  Without further clarity, however, U.S. exporters will still be mostly in the dark about what items require a U.S. export license at the same time that BIS will likely crank up the breadth of its controls over exports of surreptitious listening devices.  But if clarity is a hallmark of Export Control Reform, a little more with respect to surreptitious listening devices would go a long way.

Permalink Comments (1)

Bookmark and Share

Copyright © 2014 Clif Burns. All Rights Reserved.
(No republication, syndication or use permitted without my consent.)



Could Satellites Finally Spin out of the ITAR Orbit?

Posted by at 8:48 pm on October 16, 2012
Category: Arms ExportBISCCLUSML

satelliteAccording to this article in Aviation Week, one aspect of export reform has at least some chance of eeking through the lame duck Congress that will convene after the upcoming elections. The locus of this hope is bipartisan language in the House version of the defense authorization bill that would permit the President to move commercial satellites from the United States Munitions List to the Commerce Control List. One effect of such a change is that commercial satellites, which can’t be exported to China while listed on the USML, could be exported to China pursuant to a license from the Department of Commerce once moved to the CCL.

The Senate version of the defense authorization bill does not contain that language but there appears to be some possibility, according to a Senate Democratic aide, that the Senate, in order to get the bill passed, will consider a pre-conferenced version of the bill with the House language included. A Republican Senate staffer has suggested that Senate Republicans would not oppose such an approach.

UPDATE: A reader sent me a copy of the language from the House version of the NDAA.  That language, which can be found in section 1241, as currently written, would prohibit Commerce from granting licenses for the export of any “commercial satellite or related component or technology” to China.

Permalink Comments Off on Could Satellites Finally Spin out of the ITAR Orbit?

Bookmark and Share

Copyright © 2012 Clif Burns. All Rights Reserved.
(No republication, syndication or use permitted without my consent.)



What an Uncool Thing To Do!

Posted by at 6:58 pm on September 5, 2012

Sonel Uncooled Thermal ImagerAccording to an article last week in Bloomberg Businessweek, the Pentagon is seeking to add uncooled thermal imaging devices to the United States Munitions List. Putting that technology on the USML, as opposed to the Commerce Control List administered by the Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”), would require licenses for all exports of such technology and would prohibit exports to countries, such as China, subject to U.S. arms embargos.

Thermal imaging devices typically have to be cooled to prevent them from being “blinded” by their own internal circuitry. This results in more expensive devices as well as devices that need to warm up (or more accurately cool down) before they can function. Uncooled thermal imaging, while offering lower resolution under current technology than cooled thermal sensors, are less expensive and easier to operate. Uncooled thermal imaging has a number of non-military applications, such as collision-avoidance cameras used in new automobiles and investigation of heat leaks in homes. A contractor investigating leaks from exterior walls into my house used one. (Useless application: the camera viewfinder showed thermal paw prints left by my dog several minutes earlier!)

As the Bloomberg article points out, uncooled thermal imaging devices are produced by companies outside the United States, including Ulis in France; SemiConductor Devices in Israel; NEC Avio Infrared Technologies Co. in Japan; and Zhejiang Dali Technology Co. in China. The uncooled thermal imaging camera used by my contractor was made by Sonel in Poland (a similar model of which is pictured at right.)

The proposal to add uncooled thermal imaging to the USML is currently undergoing interagency review. A revised USML including that technology could appear as early as this month according to an anonymous DOD source cited by the Bloomberg Businessweek report.

Permalink Comments (2)

Bookmark and Share

Copyright © 2012 Clif Burns. All Rights Reserved.
(No republication, syndication or use permitted without my consent.)