Export Controls:

Concerns Over Stealth-Related Exports

NSIAD-95-140: Published: May 10, 1995. Publicly Released: May 11, 1995.

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Louis J. Rodrigues
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed export controls over stealth-related commodities and technology, focusing on: (1) how control over stealth technology and related commodities is split between the Department of State's U.S. Munitions List (USML) and the Department of Commerce's Commodity Control List (CCL); (2) the impact of shared jurisdiction over stealth-related items; and (3) whether current referral procedures allow the Department of Defense (DOD) to review all stealth-related exports.

GAO found that: (1) stealth technology materials fall under the jurisdiction of both USML and CCL; (2) Commerce believes that stealth-related commodities should be placed on USML to avoid confusion and possible seizure by the Customs Service; (3) the unclear jurisdiction over stealth technology may lead to the inappropriate export of militarily-sensitive stealth materials and technology; (4) the less restrictive export controls governing CCL commodities give exporters an incentive to apply for CCL export licenses for USML-covered material; (5) Commerce can deny CCL export licenses only under limited circumstances or for certain destinations, while State has broader authority to deny applications that are against national interests; and (6) the United States cannot ensure that export licenses for stealth-related technology are properly reviewed and controlled because Commerce does not refer all stealth technology export applications to DOD or State for review.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: While the State Department concurred with this recommendation, and held some meetings on the subject, DOD and State did not take action to clarify the licensing jurisdiction for stealth-related commodities.

    Recommendation: In light of the more stringent controls under the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and the sensitivity of stealth technology, the Secretary of State, with the concurrence of the Secretary of Defense and in consultation with the Secretary of Commerce, should clarify the licensing jurisdiction between USML and CCL for all stealth-related commodities and technologies with a view toward ensuring adequate controls under AECA for all sensitive stealth-related items.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Under a December 1995 Executive Order, Commerce permits DOD and State to review all dual-use export license applications.

    Recommendation: In light of the more stringent controls under AECA and the sensitivity of stealth technology, the Secretary of Commerce should revise current licensing referral procedures on all stealth-related items that remain on CCL to ensure that Commerce refers all export applications for stealth-related commodities and technology to DOD and State for review, unless the Secretaries of Defense and State determine their review of these items is not necessary.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce


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