20 August 1998
Source: http://www.usia.gov/current/news/latest/98081901.plt.html?/products/washfile/newsitem.shtml

USIS Washington File

19 August 1998


(Aim is to restrain destabilizing arms transfers) (2740)

(The following factsheet was issued by the U.S. Arms Control and
Disarmament Agency on August 11, 1998).


U.S. policy and views on small arms issues are generally framed by the
President's February 1995 Conventional Arms Transfer Policy. According
to that policy, the United States is currently undertaking, leading,
or otherwise supporting a wide range of national, international, and
regional efforts to address many complex aspects of small arms
proliferation and control. This fact sheet highlights the relevant
elements of U.S. conventional arms transfer policy, and summarizes
U.S. views and actions in four broad areas relating to small arms:
national export controls, combating illegal arms trafficking,
multilateral efforts, and regional arms control initiatives.

U.S. Arms Transfer Policy

U.S. arms transfer policy is designed to support transfers that meet
legitimate defense requirements of friends and allies, in support of
U.S. national security and foreign policy interests, and to restrain
arms transfers that may be destabilizing or threatening to regional
peace and security. Among the goals of the President's policy are to
promote regional stability, peaceful resolution of conflict, arms
control, human rights, and democratization. Major elements of the
policy include promotion of national and multilateral responsibility,
restraint, and transparency in the transfer of arms (including via the
Wassenaar Arrangement); vigorous support for regional initiatives to
enhance transparency, and for arms control and confidence-building
measures to constrain the demand for destabilizing weapons and related
technologies; unilateral restraint where such action is effective or
necessitated by overriding national interests; and assistance to other
countries in developing effective export control mechanisms to support
responsible export policies.

National Export Controls

Decisions on arms transfers are made on a case-by-case basis, and are
guided by the foregoing goals and a set of comprehensive criteria.
These criteria include consistency with international agreements and
arms control initiatives, and with U.S. regional stability interests.
Other policy criteria include weighing the risk of adverse economic,
political, or social impact within the recipient nation, as well as
the human rights, terrorism, and proliferation records of the country
in question.

One recent and significant change in U.S. law and regulations
governing arms exports is the implementation of a requirement for any
U.S. person, wherever located, and any foreign person located in the
United States or otherwise subject to the jurisdiction of the United
States, who engages in the business of brokering activities with
respect to the manufacture, export, import, or transfer of any defense
article or defense service subject to State Department export controls
or any "foreign defense article or defense service," to register with
the Department of State. Specified brokering activities now require
prior written approval of the Department of State, and others are
subject to a prior notification requirement.

Moreover, the U.S. Departments of State, Commerce and Treasury are in
the final stages of amending their respective export control
regulations to implement President Clinton's agreement at the Summit
of the Americas in Santiago, Chile, on April 18, 1998. In an effort to
strengthen common hemispheric security and strengthen protections
against new transnational threats facing the region, including the
production, distribution, and abuse of narcotics, illegal arms
trafficking and terrorism, the President and other hemispheric
partners agreed to implement model regulations on commercial arms

To further these objectives, the U.S. Secretaries of State, Commerce
and Treasury have been directed to implement the Model Regulations. In
order to carry out this directive the International Traffic in Arms
Regulations (ITAR) is being amended. In addition to amending the ITAR,
the U.S. Office of Defense Trade Controls is in the process of
modifying its firearms licensing practices. As of June 30, 1998, all
requests for approval for authorization to export firearms and/or
ammunition to an OAS member country must have an import authorization
that includes a number unique to the country of issuance; name of
issuing country; date of issuance; identification of authorizing
party; identification of importer, quantity, value, type,
manufacturer, model and country of manufacture; and expiration date.
Requests that do not include an authorization with this information
will immediately be returned without action.

The United States continues to enforce strictly its export control
laws. For instance, Operation Exodus, a Customs Service program in
existence since 1981, has made almost 14,000 seizures totaling more
than $1 billion ($1,000 million) in illicit exports. In 1996,
Operation Overrun, a task force of Customs inspectors aimed at
detecting, uncovering, and seizing illegal shipments of military
surplus and scrap material, seized more than $10 million in illicitly
arranged exports.

Combating Illegal Arms Trafficking

The United States is actively engaged in cooperative efforts at the
international level to lessen the negative effects of excessive and
destabilizing arms accumulations, and to promote adoption of standards
that will assist in preventing illegal trafficking in arms. As called
for in President Clinton's October 22, 1995, UNGA address, the United
States supports the development of standards that will reinforce and
strengthen national laws that prohibit illegal arms transactions
beyond national borders. The United States has called on all UN member
states to expand cooperation in the search for global standards that
will help states avoid becoming unwitting parties to illegal arms
trafficking; aid in verifying the accuracy of arms export applications
both before and after export authorizations, to prevent misuse and
diversion; and help identify and apprehend international criminals and
ensure their prosecution to the fullest extent of the law. To further
these objectives, the United States has supported measures that are
consistent with U.S. law enforcement and policy objectives and which
advance important U.S. government interests.

Within the Western Hemisphere particularly, obstructing the illicit
flow of weapons to criminals, terrorists, and drug traffickers has
been a high priority. The United States has been engaged in several
cooperative programs with regional partners to combat the illicit
manufacture of and trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives,
and other related materials. Since the early 1990s the Inter-American,
Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) has conducted studies, held
seminars, and established an Experts Group to address through Model
Regulations the control of the illicit transnational movements of
firearms and explosives and their linkages to drug trafficking. In
November 1997 CICAD approved the Model Regulations developed by its
Experts Group, and in June 1998 the Organization of American States
(OAS) General Assembly adopted the Model Regulations, encouraged
member states to apply them, and requested the Experts Group to work
on further improvements.

The negotiation and successful conclusion of the Inter-American
Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in
Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials, signed
by the United States and 28 other OAS member states in November 1997,
was another major achievement of hemispheric cooperation. The
Convention, inter alia, requires each state to establish a national
firearms control system and a register of manufacturers, traders,
importers, and exporters of these commodities; establishes a national
body to interact with other regional states and a regional
organization advisory committee; and calls for standardization of
national laws and procedures among member states of regional
organizations and for the effective control of borders and ports. It
will enhance the U.S. ability to cooperate with, and receive
assistance from, other countries in the hemisphere in connection with
efforts to prevent, investigate, and prosecute the offenses covered by
the convention. The President has submitted the Convention to the U.S.
Senate for its advice and consent. As the first instrument of its kind
in the world, it offers a model for possible application in other
regions or globally.

In April 1998, the UN's Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)'s
Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, with the United
States, Brazil, and Canada playing leading roles, recommended that
ECOSOC adopt a resolution on measures to regulate firearms for the
purpose of combating illicit trafficking. Among its operative
provisions were recommendations that States "work toward the
elaboration of an international instrument to combat the illicit
manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms ..." and "take into
account, where relevant and appropriate, the Inter-American
Convention...." The Commission also decided that "the ad hoc committee
on the elaboration of a comprehensive international convention against
transnational organized crime, to be established by the General
Assembly, should hold discussions on the elaboration" of this
international instrument, including "effective methods of identifying
and tracing firearms, as well as on the establishment or maintenance
of an import and export and in-transit licensing or similar
authorization regime for the international commercial transfer of
firearms, their parts and components and ammunition, to prevent their
diversion for criminal misuse."

On June 10, 1998, Secretary of State Albright publicly proposed that
the international community broaden its efforts to crack down on
illicit firearms trafficking by pursuing a global agreement based on
the OAS Convention, with the aim of concluding it in 1999.

Other Multilateral and International Efforts

To promote transparency in arms at the global level, the United States
was among the original sponsors of the UN resolution establishing the
UN Register of Conventional Arms, and we have submitted relevant
information annually to the Register since its creation. The United
States supports universal participation in the Register, and actively
promotes this objective through an annual diplomatic campaign in
capitals, and in our bilateral relationships with many countries. More
than 90 states are now participating regularly in the UN Register.
Since only a few arms exporting states do not participate, and many of
the non-participating states would have supplied "nil" reports, only a
small fraction of the world's imports and exports of major arms are
not captured by the Register. The United States also advocates
expansion of the Register to include military holdings and procurement
through national production, and recognizes the potential relevance of
complementary regional registers, for example in Africa, where small
arms are the primary weapons of war.

The United States continues to support and send delegates to the UN
Experts Panels (on the UN Register; on Small Arms; and the Technical
Panel on Ammunition and Explosives) because we agree with the UN
Secretary General on the need to focus increased attention on the
growing problems associated with the proliferation and use of small

With specific regard to small arms, the United States supports the
recommendations of the 1997 Report of the UN Panel of Governmental
Experts on Small Arms. We encourage their implementation, and support
further work at the UN to consider further actions to address these
issues. This was recently reflected in the Group of Eight (G-8)
statement at the May 1998 Birmingham summit.

Also to promote transparency in armaments, the United States, along
with its Western partners, promoted transparency in armaments in the
UN Conference on Disarmament during the 1992-93 CD session.

Other UN activities in which the U.S. participates include the UN
Disarmament Commission (UNDC), which agreed in 1996 on a set of
guidelines for international arms transfers with an emphasis on
illicit trafficking, and where discussions currently involve broader
considerations of practical disarmament -- ways of dealing with
post-conflict consolidation of peace, including issues of small arms,
peacekeeping, and other disarmament-related approaches.

Within the 33-member Wassenaar Arrangement, the United States actively
seeks to increase transparency in the transfer of conventional arms,
to promote more effective international controls, and to foster
restraint -- particularly regarding regions of tension and to states
that may pose threats to international peace and security. The
Wassenaar Arrangement is considering exploring possible ways in which
it might complement, reinforce, but not duplicate current
international efforts in the small arms area.

On June 10, 1998, citing the increasing threat to civil aviation posed
by shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, Secretary Albright issued a
public call for negotiation of an international agreement to place
tighter controls on the export of such portable, easily concealed

Regional Arms Control Initiatives

In 1994, the United States passed the African Conflict Resolution Act,
which requires various U.S. government agencies to report to Congress
annually on their contributions to efforts to improve conflict
resolution capabilities across the African continent, within the OAU,
and subregional organizations.

The U.S. also supports regional or subregional initiatives to enhance
transparency in conventional arms, including the proposed West African
Moratorium on the import, export, and manufacture of small arms and
light weapons. U.S. arms control experts have provided technical
advice to the Government of Mali in designing the terms of the
proposed moratorium, and U.S. officials have participated in a series
of international conferences on the moratorium and have presented
papers on it to various professional audiences. The United States has
endorsed this unprecedented subregional arms control initiative,
earmarked funds to support it upon its declaration, and is continuing
to make concerted efforts to identify and provide other appropriate
material, technical, and/or financial support for its effective

The United States remains deeply concerned about the continuing
violence in Africa's Great Lakes region, to which small arms
trafficking has been a contributing factor. At the Entebbe summit in
March, President Clinton and six heads of state and government from
the region pledged to undertake a concerted effort to prevent a
resurgence of genocide in Rwanda. They endorsed the reactivation of
the UN Arms Flow Commission as a means to identify and stop illegal
arms trafficking to the former Rwanda army and militia forces. In
April the UN Security Council approved a U.S.-sponsored resolution
which re-established the International Commission of Inquiry into Arms
Flows (Rwanda) to continue investigating reports of the sale, supply
or shipment of arms and related material to former Rwandan government
forces and militias in Central Africa, in violation of Security
Council resolutions. It mandated the Commission to identify parties
that are involved in arms trafficking to Rwandan militias and
insurgents, to make recommendations relating to the illegal flow of
arms in the region, and called for the submission of a report to the
Secretary General and the Security Council. The United States has also
contributed financially to the work of the Commission. There has also
been a convergence of views toward exercising maximum restraint in
considering arms transfers to the Central Africa/Great Lakes region
within the Wassenaar Arrangement.

The United States has welcomed the UN Secretary General's April 1998
Report to the Security Council on The Causes of Conflict and the
Promotion of Durable Peace and Sustainable Development in Africa. The
report contains several specific recommendations for stopping the
proliferation of arms, including implementation of transparency and
confidence-building measures in the military and security fields,
harmonization of policies against illicit arms trafficking, universal
African participation in the UN Register of Conventional Arms, and
establishment of supplementary subregional registers.

In the Western Hemisphere, the United States has been working
intensively with its neighbors through the OAS to pursue a wide range
of global and regional arms control initiatives, focussing on the
development and adoption of enhanced transparency and
confidence-building measures. In 1995 the OAS General Assembly adopted
a U.S.-authored resolution instructing the Permanent Council to
establish a Committee on Hemispheric Security, the first permanent
regional forum for the consideration of arms control,
nonproliferation, and security issues. The OAS is now committed to
examining the desirability of a convention on the notification of all
arms acquisitions (imported and domestically produced) covered by the
seven categories of UN Register of Conventional Arms.

In the Asia-Pacific region, the United States has actively advocated
and supported numerous initiatives within the ASEAN Regional Forum
(ARF) to enhance military transparency and confidence- and
security-building measures. At the ARF Ministerial meeting in Manila,
in July 1998, Ministers endorsed all the recommendations of the
Inter-Sessional Support Group on Confidence Building Measures
(ISG-CBM). These include a set of matrices and tables showing the
degree of implementation of some 20 agreed CBMs, two lists of new CBMs
for implementation in the near and longer terms; continued discussion
of arms modernization in the region; commitment to global arms control
and non-proliferation regimes; support for universal ARF member
participation in the UN Register of Conventional Arms; annual
circulation of members' Register reports among all ARF members; and
continued discussion of Register issues and submissions. A number of
ARF members have expressed interest in considering small arms issues
as well.

(end text)