Export Control Reform Comes to USML Category XII
Posted by Clif Burns at 11:25 pm on May 5, 2015
Category: BIS • DDTC • Night Vision
Well, who would have thought? Contrary to broad expectations that export control reform would never in a million years come to Category XII, which contains tactical gamestoppers such as night vision and laser designators and markers, export control reform came today to Category XII in the form of proposed rules. The BIS proposed rules are here; the DDTC proposed rules are here.
While it may be surprising that Category XII is being reformed, it is not so surprising that the new “positive” list of items controlled in the new proposed Category XII has expanded considerably, growing from less than a page in the Code of Federal Regulations to five densely packed pages in the Federal Register. And what is and isn’t on this extensive new list will be the subject, I assume, of extensive industry comments due, by the way, on July 6, 2015.
Because of the much-publicized interagency squabbling between BIS and DDTC over which agency license which night vision system, a quick look at the new provisions relating to night vision is instructive. Obviously, the new rules do not simply cover infrared focal plan array detectors (“IRFPAs”) and image intensification tubes (“IITs”) designed for military use but instead cover IITs and IRFPAs with specified peak response levels. IITs meeting the peak response rate for IITs must have either second or third generation photocathodes. Interestingly, the definition of second and third generation photocathodes is completely different in the proposed rules from the definition given in the current USML, reinforcing the general conception that nobody really knows what the difference is between second and third generation night vision beyond the obvious: third is better than second.
A note to be included to subparagraph (c), which covers night vision, in Category XII appears to maintain, more or less, the current principle, at least for certain components, that when they are incorporated into commercial systems, the commercial system is not subject to ITAR controls, but the parts in question will be subject to ITAR controls if exported separately from the commercial system. However, a new qualification to this principle, that is not currently expressed in Category XII, is added: for this rule to apply, the component must not be removable from the system “without destruction or damage to the [component] or render [sic] the item inoperable.” What the practical impact of this new qualification will be is hard to predict, but my guess is that it may gut the exception and expand control over commercial system given that I can’t imagine many situations where the item can’t be removed without destroying it. But I’ll defer to any engineers who may know better whether this is the case or not.
Heat, Don’t Leave Home Without It
Posted by Clif Burns at 10:07 pm on April 27, 2015
Category: Arms Export • Customs • DDTC
Customs and Border Protection has decided that it needs to make it easier for you to travel abroad with a gun, at least assuming that you aren’t planning to use it to create any harm or to give it to a nefarious overseas organization. So they have announced that they will help travelers with firearms fill out CBP Form 4457 “to ensure that no traveler attempting to legally take their firearm out of the country experiences significant delays.” Form 4457 is a registration of exported goods designed to permit them to be returned to the United States without payment of duties or complying other regulatory requirements.
And CBP is so concerned about the difficulties of packing heat in your luggage that they’ve even taken a swipe at the Automated Export System and the State Department requirement for filing an EEI through AES before taking lugging a Lugar abroad.
Additionally, CBP is working with our other government partners to modify the AES system and the reporting process to make a more user-friendly experience for individual travelers.
I certainly agree that the AES should be made more user-friendly; I’m just not so sure that it needs to be made more friendly just for people traveling with their weapons.
Texas Judge Indicted For Illegal Firearm Exports
Posted by Clif Burns at 10:38 pm on April 21, 2015
Category: Arms Export • Criminal Penalties • DDTC
ABOVE: Judge Tim Wright
Well, it is probably safe to say that not many (if any) judges have been indicted on allegations of illegally exporting firearms. But that’s what happened to Judge Tim Wright, a judge in Williamson County, Texas, who was charged with various firearm charges, including illegal exports of firearms. There are few details in the indictment beyond alleging that Judge Williams, which the indictment rather oddly insists on calling “Timothy L. Wright, III, aka ‘The Judge,’” sold guns to a person without an export license knowing that the guns were intended for export.
This is a strangely odd locution: it alleges that Judge Wright knew that the guns were for export but does not allege that the Judge knew that the purchaser did not have an export license or that the Judge knew that his sale or the export were illegal. This probably explains why Judge Wright was charged under the Anti-Smuggling Statute, 18 U.S.C. § 554, and not under the Arms Export Control Act, 22 U.S.C. § 2278. There is well-established precedent under the Arms Export Control Act that a conviction can only be had if the defendant knew that his export was in violation of law. On the other hand, it appears hat prosecutors believe, as I have said previously, that they can establish a criminal violation of 18 U.S.C. § 554 simply by proving the defendant knew that the item was to be exported without any requirement that they prove he knew that the export was illegal.
Whether a court will send someone to jail on such a flimsy showing of criminal intent remains to be seen.
White House May Take Cuba off Terrorism List
Posted by Clif Burns at 8:35 pm on April 13, 2015
Category: BIS • Cuba Sanctions • DDTC
There have been news reports suggesting that Obama is contemplating, as part of the thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations, to remove Cuba from the list of countries that are state sponsors of terrorism. Beyond the symbolic significant of such a move, what would be the real consequences?
Of course, one consequence of being on the list is that, under section 40 of the Arms Export Control Act, 22 U.S.C. § 2780, any country put on the list of state sponsors of terrorism is automatically subject to an arms embargo. Of course, even if Cuba is removed from the list, I would not count on arms shipments from the U.S. to Havana in the foreseeable future.
Second, section 6(j) of the defunct Export Administration Act, 50 App § 2405, requires a license for exports to state sponsors if the export could make a “significant contribution to the military potential of such country” or if it could “enhance the ability of such country to support acts of international terrorism.” And, in those instances, Congress must be given notice of such exports thirty days in advance. Of course, the Export Administration Act is no longer in force and is only even in the appendix to Title 50 of the U.S.C. because the President breathes life into it every year using the superpowers bestowed on him by the International Economic Emergency Economic Powers Act. So the White House could end any license requirement for Cuba and end the notification requirement using the same superpowers that resurrected those provisions in the first place.
You might also think that removing Cuba from the list might make it easier to ship agricultural products, medicine and medical devices to Cuba under the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000. After all, the Act, in section 7205, imposes a license requirement for shipping those goods to a sanctioned country if that country is also on the state sponsor of terrorism list. However, that section specifically identifies Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism and imposes the license requirement on exports of agricultural products, medicines and medical products to Cuba. So, removing Cuba from the terrorism list will not eliminate the need for exporters to Cuba to continue to file the export notifications required to utilize License Exception AGR for TSRA exports to Cuba.
Customs Seizes $40 Worth of Ammunition; Breaks Arm Patting Own Back
Posted by Clif Burns at 8:25 pm on April 8, 2015
Category: DDTC • ITAR
ABOVE: Ammo Seized by CPB
It must be a slow day at CPB. They find and seize two 50-round boxes of ammo in a container of household goods on their way to Honduras and then issue a press release congratulating themselves on saving the United States from imminent destruction and doom. CPB Houston Port Director Dave Fluty could scarcely restrain himself:
These types of seizures represent our vigilance and commitment to protecting our nation by enforcing the laws and regulations on behalf of many other federal agencies.
Because, obviously, these 100 bullets would wind up in the hands of Honduran criminals who would sneak back into the United States with them and wreak havoc.
What makes the hoopla over 100 rounds of ammo even more interesting is that CPB gets the law wrong:
Permanent or temporary export of ammunition via shipping container requires the exporter to register with Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls who [sic] has published a [sic] guidelines for firearms exports.
No, no and no. Section 122.1(a) of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations requires registration by any person “who engages … in the business of … exporting defense articles.” Section 123.17(e) permits the export without a license of up to 1,000 cartridges for nonautomatic firearms without a license provided that the cartridges are “for personal use and not for resale.” To say that this exception for limited ammunition exports for personal use can only be used by individuals who register as a business is not only wrong but absurd.