Radar That Wasn’t on the Radar
Posted by Clif Burns at 5:12 pm on December 18, 2006
The December 2006 Wassenaar Plenary made a number of changes to the Waasenaar control lists, and as I noted on Friday, I’ve been going through the changes to find anything of interest. One change of interest (particularly to Lockheed Martin) is the addition of a new category 5.a.1.g. which controls:
Passive Coherent Location systems or equipment specially designed for detecting and tracking moving objects by measuring reflections of ambient radio frequency emissions, supplied by non-radar transmitters.
Passive coherent location systems are more commonly known as passive radar systems. Unlike conventional radar which relies on a radio signal transmitted by the radar system, a passive radar system uses radio signals by other existing transmission sources, typically television and radio stations. Lockheed Martin’s Silent Sentry is a passive radar system which Lockheed began to sell in 1999.
As receiving equipment and the necessary signal processing equipment have become smaller, cheaper and more powerful, passive radar represents a highly-mobile, extremely sensitive and almost completely covert method for tracking moving objects such as airplanes and helicopters. Moreover, passive radar systems can detect low-flying stealth aircraft.
Frankly, we are a little surprised that it took this long for such a technology to wind up on an export control list.
Who Says -158°C Is Warm?
Posted by Clif Burns at 6:23 pm on December 15, 2006
The changes adopted at the December 2006 Plenary of Wassenaar are now posted on the Wassenaar website, and we’ve started to go through them to look for things of interest. The first thing to catch our eye was to see that Wassenaar had moved into the 20th century and has discovered high temperature superconductors — materials which the scientific community discovered in the late 1980s.
The revised list includes a new category 1.C.5.c which covers composite conductors consisting of one or more “superconductive” filaments which remain “superconductive” above 115 K (-158.16oC). Materials that exhibit superconductivity at temperatures over 90 K (-183°C) are traditionally considered high-temperature superconductors. This, of course, leads to the joke that no physicist can resist when writing about high-temperature superconductors that “high temperatures are relative.” Now you know why MIT is not a hotbed of stand-up comedy.
This is all very interesting, you say, but where’s the dual-use? Normally superconductivity is considered useful for magnetic effects (MRIs and floating trains and the like) and efficient energy transmission, none of which seem to have significant military application. However, this interesting article from RF Design Magazine describes at least one significant military application of HTS materials in military surveillance electronics. Short version: superconductors allow filters that will reject side-band frequencies without reducing frequency strength thereby vastly extending the range of surveillance receivers. Which is one of the reason why even high-temperature superconductors are cool.
(Rimshot. “Thank You. You’ve been great. Be sure to try the veal.”)
Daewoo Head Indicted for Illegal Exports
Posted by Clif Burns at 3:40 pm on December 6, 2006
Category: Arms Export • Wassenaar
Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt receiving visiting President of Daewoo International Corporation Mr Lee Tae Yong and party at the Myanmar Ministry of Defence
According to a news item in today’s Korea Times, Lee Tae Yong, the President of Daewoo International, was indicted by South Korea for illegal exports of military items to Myanmar (Burma). The indictment of the Daewoo chief was one of a group of multiple indictments which included indictments of seven companies and fourteen officials from those companies.
The indictment alleged the export of production facilities and weapons technology to Myanmar in violation of the law on exports of strategic goods. According to the prosecutor for the case, the companies had “made contracts with Myanmar to export plant facilities, machines and technology information which can be used to make various cannon weapons.” Apparently before the companies and officials were collared by Korean authorities, 90 percent of the weapons-making facilities had been completed and 90 percent of contract funds had been dispensed to the Korean companies.
South Korea is part of the Wassenaar Arrangement pursuant to which it is committed to restrict exports of military and dual-use items.
The South Korean authorities could have obtained their first hints of the illegal exports of Daewoo through a simple Internet search. On February 6, 2002, Mr. Lee visited the Myanmar Ministry of Defense. His visit was captured by Myanmar Television, and a picture (shown above) and a report of that visit were printed in The New Light of Myanmar, the official newspaper of the Myanmar government. That New Light news story and photograph were then made available on the government’s website. Next time Mr. Lee attempts to become an international arms dealer for sanctioned regimes, he might want to make his official visits to his customers a little more surreptitiously.
December Wassenaar Changes Finally Implemented by BIS
Posted by Clif Burns at 4:00 pm on September 8, 2006
Category: BIS • Wassenaar
In December 2005, a plenary conference of the Wassenaar Arrangement made a number of changes to its “List of Dual-Use Goods and Technologies and Munitions List.” A summary of those changes can be found here.
Today BIS finally got around to issuing a rule incorporating those changes into the CCL. As a result, a number of ECCNs have been modified, changed and added.
One of the key additions is ECCN 5A002.a.9 which covers “quantum cryptography.” Quantum cryptography is a relatively new technology which relies on principals of quantum physics to set up a secure communications channel. Information is encoded into quantum properties of photons and then transmitted. If any party other than the sender and recipient intercepts or reads the communication it alters the photons in detectable ways. Although there are not yet any significant commercial implementations of quantum cryptography it is thought that it could be used as a secure mechanism to distribute keys used in digital cryptography.
Under the new rules, quantum cryptography is treated identically with other forms of cryptography and is eligible for export under the procedures set forth in License Exception ENC. Thus, for example, quantum cryptography devices could be shipped to the “license-free zone” — basically the European Union plus Australia, New Zealand and Japan — immediately upon filing for review.
Another new addition to CCL are underwater electronic field sensors which are now classified under ECCN 6A006.b. These have typically been designed for military use and were listed on the U.S.M.L. at Category XI(b), but since such devices are now being manufactured for civilian uses as well, the new ECCN for dual-use versions was added. Under the new ECCN the underwater sensors would be subject to control if they have “a ‘noise level’ (sensitivity) lower (better) than 8 nanovolt per meter per square root Hz when measured at 1 Hz.”
One deletion implemented by the new rules illustrates the difficulty that both the CCL and the Wassenaar Lists have in keeping up with the increasing availability to consumers of technologies that once were out of their reach. ECCN 8A002.f and its Wassenaar list analog 8.a.2.f provided for the control of:
Electronic imaging systems, specially designed or modified for underwater use, capable of storing digitally more than 50 exposed images
Clearly inexpensive digital underwater cameras that would be covered by this classification have become broadly available throughout the world. So a decontrol note was added to the CCL and the Wassenaar lists to exclude from control “digital cameras specially designed for consumer purposes, other than those employing electronic image multiplication techniques.” One can only wonder how many digital underwater cameras were illegally exported prior to the adoption of this decontrol note.