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Arms Export Control Act
These provisions of law are the product of numerous revisions from 1976 through 2010. The text shown here is as codified in Chapter 39 of Title 22 of the U.S. Code.

 

 

The implementing regulations for this law are the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which include the United States Munitions List.

For related restrictions on dual-use items see the Export Administration Act, the Export Administration Regulations (PDF), and the Commerce Control List.

See also the CENTRAL guide to Security, Sanctions, and Compliance, including links to numerous other laws affecting sales of arms and related goods.

 

 

 


§2778. Control of arms exports and imports

(a) Presidential control of exports and imports of defense articles and services, guidance of policy, etc.; designation of United States Munitions List; issuance of export licenses; negotiations information

(1) In furtherance of world peace and the security and foreign policy of the United States, the President is authorized to control the import and the export of defense articles and defense services and to provide foreign policy guidance to persons of the United States involved in the export and import of such articles and services. The President is authorized to designate those items which shall be considered as defense articles and defense services for the purposes of this section and to promulgate regulations for the import and export of such articles and services. The items so designated shall constitute the United States Munitions List.

(2) Decisions on issuing export licenses under this section shall take into account whether the export of an article would contribute to an arms race, aid in the development of weapons of mass destruction, support international terrorism, increase the possibility of outbreak or escalation of conflict, or prejudice the development of bilateral or multilateral arms control or nonproliferation agreements or other arrangements.

(3) In exercising the authorities conferred by this section, the President may require that any defense article or defense service be sold under this chapter as a condition of its eligibility for export, and may require that persons engaged in the negotiation for the export of defense articles and services keep the President fully and currently informed of the progress and future prospects of such negotiations.

(b) Registration and licensing requirements for manufacturers, exporters, or importers of designated defense articles and defense services

(1)(A)(i) As prescribed in regulations issued under this section, every person (other than an officer or employee of the United States Government acting in an official capacity) who engages in the business of manufacturing, exporting, or importing any defense articles or defense services designated by the President under subsection (a)(1) of this section shall register with the United States Government agency charged with the administration of this section, and shall pay a registration fee which shall be prescribed by such regulations. Such regulations shall prohibit the return to the United States for sale in the United States (other than for the Armed Forces of the United States and its allies or for any State or local law enforcement agency) of any military firearms or ammunition of United States manufacture furnished to foreign governments by the United States under this chapter or any other foreign assistance or sales program of the United States, whether or not enhanced in value or improved in condition in a foreign country. This prohibition shall not extend to similar firearms that have been so substantially transformed as to become, in effect, articles of foreign manufacture.

(ii)(I) As prescribed in regulations issued under this section, every person (other than an officer or employee of the United States Government acting in official capacity) who engages in the business of brokering activities with respect to the manufacture, export, import, or transfer of any defense article or defense service designated by the President under subsection (a)(1) of this section, or in the business of brokering activities with respect to the manufacture, export, import, or transfer of any foreign defense article or defense service (as defined in subclause (IV)), shall register with the United States Government agency charged with the administration of this section, and shall pay a registration fee which shall be prescribed by such regulations.

(II) Such brokering activities shall include the financing, transportation, freight forwarding, or taking of any other action that facilitates the manufacture, export, or import of a defense article or defense service.

(III) No person may engage in the business of brokering activities described in subclause (I) without a license, issued in accordance with this chapter, except that no license shall be required for such activities undertaken by or for an agency of the United States Government—

(aa) for use by an agency of the United States Government; or

(bb) for carrying out any foreign assistance or sales program authorized by law and subject to the control of the President by other means.

(IV) For purposes of this clause, the term “foreign defense article or defense service” includes any non-United States defense article or defense service of a nature described on the United States Munitions List regardless of whether such article or service is of United States origin or whether such article or service contains United States origin components.

(B) The prohibition under such regulations required by the second sentence of subparagraph (A) shall not extend to any military firearms (or ammunition, components, parts, accessories, and attachments for such firearms) of United States manufacture furnished to any foreign government by the United States under this chapter or any other foreign assistance or sales program of the United States if—

(i) such firearms are among those firearms that the Secretary of the Treasury is, or was at any time, required to authorize the importation of by reason of the provisions of section 925(e) of title 18 (including the requirement for the listing of such firearms as curios or relics under section 921(a)(13) of that title); and

(ii) such foreign government certifies to the United States Government that such firearms are owned by such foreign government.

(B) A copy of each registration made under this paragraph shall be transmitted to the Secretary of the Treasury for review regarding law enforcement concerns. The Secretary shall report to the President regarding such concerns as necessary.

(2) Except as otherwise specifically provided in regulations issued under subsection (a)(1) of this section, no defense articles or defense services designated by the President under subsection (a)(1) of this section may be exported or imported without a license for such export or import, issued in accordance with this chapter and regulations issued under this chapter, except that no license shall be required for exports or imports made by or for an agency of the United States Government (A) for official use by a department or agency of the United States Government, or (B) for carrying out any foreign assistance or sales program authorized by law and subject to the control of the President by other means.

(3)(A) For each of the fiscal years 1988 and 1989, $250,000 of registration fees collected pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be credited to a Department of State account, to be available without fiscal year limitation. Fees credited to that account shall be available only for the payment of expenses incurred for—

(i) contract personnel to assist in the evaluation of munitions control license applications, reduce processing time for license applications, and improve monitoring of compliance with the terms of licenses; and

(ii) the automation of munitions control functions and the processing of munitions control license applications, including the development, procurement, and utilization of computer equipment and related software.

(B) The authority of this paragraph may be exercised only to such extent or in such amounts as are provided in advance in appropriation Acts.

(c) Criminal violations; punishment

Any person who willfully violates any provision of this section, section 2779 of this title, a treaty referred to in subsection (j)(1)(C)(i), or any rule or regulation issued under this section or section 2779 of this title, including any rule or regulation issued to implement or enforce a treaty referred to in subsection (j)(1)(C)(i) or an implementing arrangement pursuant to such treaty, or who willfully, in a registration or license application or required report, makes any untrue statement of a material fact or omits to state a material fact required to be stated therein or necessary to make the statements therein not misleading, shall upon conviction be fined for each violation not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

(d) Repealed. Pub. L. 96–70, title III, §3303(a)(4), Sept. 27, 1979, 93 Stat. 499

(e) Enforcement powers of President

In carrying out functions under this section with respect to the export of defense articles and defense services, including defense articles and defense services exported or imported pursuant to a treaty referred to in subsection (j)(1)(C)(i), the President is authorized to exercise the same powers concerning violations and enforcement which are conferred upon departments, agencies and officials by subsections (c), (d), (e), and (g) of section 11 of the Export Administration Act of 1979 [50 U.S.C. App. 2410(c), (d), (e), and (g)], and by subsections (a) and (c) of section 12 of such Act [50 U.S.C. App. 2411(a) and (c)], subject to the same terms and conditions as are applicable to such powers under such Act [50 U.S.C. App. 2401 et seq.], except that section 11(c)(2)(B) of such Act shall not apply, and instead, as prescribed in regulations issued under this section, the Secretary of State may assess civil penalties for violations of this chapter and regulations prescribed thereunder and further may commence a civil action to recover such civil penalties, and except further that the names of the countries and the types and quantities of defense articles for which licenses are issued under this section shall not be withheld from public disclosure unless the President determines that the release of such information would be contrary to the national interest. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as authorizing the withholding of information from the Congress. Notwithstanding section 11(c) of the Export Administration Act of 1979, the civil penalty for each violation involving controls imposed on the export of defense articles and defense services under this section may not exceed $500,000.

(f) Periodic review of items on Munitions List; exemptions

(1) The President shall periodically review the items on the United States Munitions List to determine what items, if any, no longer warrant export controls under this section. The results of such reviews shall be reported to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and to the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs of the Senate. The President may not remove any item from the Munitions List until 30 days after the date on which the President has provided notice of the proposed removal to the Committee on International Relations of the House of Representatives and to the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate in accordance with the procedures applicable to reprogramming notifications under section 2394–1(a) of this title. Such notice shall describe the nature of any controls to be imposed on that item under any other provision of law.

(2) The President may not authorize an exemption for a foreign country from the licensing requirements of this chapter for the export of defense items under subsection (j) of this section or any other provision of this chapter until 30 days after the date on which the President has transmitted to the Committee on International Relations of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate a notification that includes—

(A) a description of the scope of the exemption, including a detailed summary of the defense articles, defense services, and related technical data covered by the exemption; and

(B) a determination by the Attorney General that the bilateral agreement concluded under subsection (j) of this section requires the compilation and maintenance of sufficient documentation relating to the export of United States defense articles, defense services, and related technical data to facilitate law enforcement efforts to detect, prevent, and prosecute criminal violations of any provision of this chapter, including the efforts on the part of countries and factions engaged in international terrorism to illicitly acquire sophisticated United States defense items.

(3) Paragraph (2) shall not apply with respect to an exemption for Canada from the licensing requirements of this chapter for the export of defense items.

(4) Paragraph (2) shall not apply with respect to an exemption under subsection (j)(1) to give effect to a treaty referred to in subsection (j)(1)(C)(i) (and any implementing arrangements to such treaty), provided that the President promulgates regulations to implement and enforce such treaty under this section and section 2779 of this title.

(g) Identification of persons convicted or subject to indictment for violations of certain provisions

(1) The President shall develop appropriate mechanisms to identify, in connection with the export licensing process under this section—

(A) persons who are the subject of an indictment for, or have been convicted of, a violation under—

(i) this section,

(ii) section 11 of the Export Administration Act of 1979 (50 U.S.C. App. 2410),

(iii) section 793, 794, or 798 of title 18 (relating to espionage involving defense or classified information) or section 2339A of such title (relating to providing material support to terrorists),

(iv) section 16 of the Trading with the Enemy Act (50 U.S.C. App. 16),

(v) section 206 of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (relating to foreign assets controls; 50 U.S.C. App. 1705) [50 U.S.C. 1705],

(vi) section 30A of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78dd–1) or section 104 of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (15 U.S.C. 78dd–2),

(vii) chapter 105 of title 18 (relating to sabotage),

(viii) section 4(b) of the Internal Security Act of 1950 (relating to communication of classified information; 50 U.S.C. 783(b)),

(ix) section 57, 92, 101, 104, 222, 224, 225, or 226 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (42 U.S.C. 2077, 2122, 2131, 2134, 2272, 2274, 2275, and 2276),

(x) section 601 of the National Security Act of 1947 (relating to intelligence identities protection; 50 U.S.C. 421),

(xi) section 603(b) or (c) of the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986 (22 U.S.C. 5113(b) and (c)); 2 or

(xii) section 3 3, 4, 5, and 6 of the Prevention of Terrorist Access to Destructive Weapons Act of 2004, relating to missile systems designed to destroy aircraft (18 U.S.C. 2332g), prohibitions governing atomic weapons (42 U.S.C. 2122), radiological dispersal devices (18 U.S.C. 2332h), and variola virus (18 U.S.C. 175b 4);

(B) persons who are the subject of an indictment or have been convicted under section 371 of title 18 for conspiracy to violate any of the statutes cited in subparagraph (A); and

(C) persons who are ineligible—

(i) to contract with,

(ii) to receive a license or other form of authorization to export from, or

(iii) to receive a license or other form of authorization to import defense articles or defense services from,

any agency of the United States Government.

(2) The President shall require that each applicant for a license to export an item on the United States Munitions List identify in the application all consignees and freight forwarders involved in the proposed export.

(3) If the President determines—

(A) that an applicant for a license to export under this section is the subject of an indictment for a violation of any of the statutes cited in paragraph (1),

(B) that there is reasonable cause to believe that an applicant for a license to export under this section has violated any of the statutes cited in paragraph (1), or

(C) that an applicant for a license to export under this section is ineligible to contract with, or to receive a license or other form of authorization to import defense articles or defense services from, any agency of the United States Government,

the President may disapprove the application. The President shall consider requests by the Secretary of the Treasury to disapprove any export license application based on these criteria.

(4) A license to export an item on the United States Munitions List may not be issued to a person—

(A) if that person, or any party to the export, has been convicted of violating a statute cited in paragraph (1), or

(B) if that person, or any party to the export, is at the time of the license review ineligible to receive export licenses (or other forms of authorization to export) from any agency of the United States Government,

except as may be determined on a case-by-case basis by the President, after consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, after a thorough review of the circumstances surrounding the conviction or ineligibility to export and a finding by the President that appropriate steps have been taken to mitigate any law enforcement concerns.

(5) A license to export an item on the United States Munitions List may not be issued to a foreign person (other than a foreign government).

(6) The President may require a license (or other form of authorization) before any item on the United States Munitions List is sold or otherwise transferred to the control or possession of a foreign person or a person acting on behalf of a foreign person.

(7) The President shall, in coordination with law enforcement and national security agencies, develop standards for identifying high-risk exports for regular end-use verification. These standards shall be published in the Federal Register and the initial standards shall be published not later than October 1, 1988.

(8) Upon request of the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Treasury shall detail to the office primarily responsible for export licensing functions under this section, on a nonreimbursable basis, personnel with appropriate expertise to assist in the initial screening of applications for export licenses under this section in order to determine the need for further review of those applications for foreign policy, national security, and law enforcement concerns.

(9) For purposes of this subsection—

(A) the term “foreign corporation” means a corporation that is not incorporated in the United States;

(B) the term “foreign government” includes any agency or subdivision of a foreign government, including an official mission of a foreign government;

(C) the term “foreign person” means any person who is not a citizen or national of the United States or lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence under the Immigration and Nationality Act [8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq.], and includes foreign corporations, international organizations, and foreign governments;

(D) the term “party to the export” means—

(i) the president, the chief executive officer, and other senior officers of the license applicant;

(ii) the freight forwarders or designated exporting agent of the license application; and

(iii) any consignee or end user of any item to be exported; and

(E) the term “person” means a natural person as well as a corporation, business association, partnership, society, trust, or any other entity, organization, or group, including governmental entities.

(h) Judicial review of designation of items as defense articles or services

The designation by the President (or by an official to whom the President's functions under subsection (a) of this section have been duly delegated), in regulations issued under this section, of items as defense articles or defense services for purposes of this section shall not be subject to judicial review.

(i) Report to Department of State

As prescribed in regulations issued under this section, a United States person to whom a license has been granted to export an item on the United States Munitions List shall, not later than 15 days after the item is exported, submit to the Department of State a report containing all shipment information, including a description of the item and the quantity, value, port of exit, and end-user and country of destination of the item.

(j) Requirements relating to country exemptions for licensing of defense items for export to foreign countries

(1) Requirement for bilateral agreement

(A) In general

The President may utilize the regulatory or other authority pursuant to this chapter to exempt a foreign country from the licensing requirements of this chapter with respect to exports of defense items only if the United States Government has concluded a binding bilateral agreement with the foreign country. Such agreement shall—

(i) meet the requirements set forth in paragraph (2); and

(ii) be implemented by the United States and the foreign country in a manner that is legally-binding under their domestic laws.

(B) Exception for Canada

The requirement to conclude a bilateral agreement in accordance with subparagraph (A) shall not apply with respect to an exemption for Canada from the licensing requirements of this chapter for the export of defense items.

(C) Exception for defense trade cooperation treaties

(i) In general

The requirement to conclude a bilateral agreement in accordance with subparagraph (A) shall not apply with respect to an exemption from the licensing requirements of this chapter for the export of defense items to give effect to any of the following defense trade cooperation treaties, provided that the treaty has entered into force pursuant to article II, section 2, clause 2 of the Constitution of the United States:

(I) The Treaty Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Concerning Defense Trade Cooperation, done at Washington and London on June 21 and 26, 2007 (and any implementing arrangement thereto).

(II) The Treaty Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Australia Concerning Defense Trade Cooperation, done at Sydney September 5, 2007 (and any implementing arrangement thereto).

(ii) Limitation of scope

The United States shall exempt from the scope of a treaty referred to in clause (i)—

(I) complete rocket systems (including ballistic missile systems, space launch vehicles, and sounding rockets) or complete unmanned aerial vehicle systems (including cruise missile systems, target drones, and reconnaissance drones) capable of delivering at least a 500 kilogram payload to a range of 300 kilometers, and associated production facilities, software, or technology for these systems, as defined in the Missile Technology Control Regime Annex Category I, Item 1;

(II) individual rocket stages, re-entry vehicles and equipment, solid or liquid propellant motors or engines, guidance sets, thrust vector control systems, and associated production facilities, software, and technology, as defined in the Missile Technology Control Regime Annex Category I, Item 2;

(III) defense articles and defense services listed in the Missile Technology Control Regime Annex Category II that are for use in rocket systems, as that term is used in such Annex, including associated production facilities, software, or technology;

(IV) toxicological agents, biological agents, and associated equipment, as listed in the United States Munitions List (part 121.1 of chapter I of title 22, Code of Federal Regulations), Category XIV, subcategories (a), (b), (f)(1), (i), (j) as it pertains to (f)(1), (l) as it pertains to (f)(1), and (m) as it pertains to all of the subcategories cited in this paragraph;

(V) defense articles and defense services specific to the design and testing of nuclear weapons which are controlled under United States Munitions List Category XVI(a) and (b), along with associated defense articles in Category XVI(d) and technology in Category XVI(e);

(VI) with regard to the treaty cited in clause (i)(I), defense articles and defense services that the United States controls under the United States Munitions List that are not controlled by the United Kingdom, as defined in the United Kingdom Military List or Annex 4 to the United Kingdom Dual Use List, or any successor lists thereto; and

(VII) with regard to the treaty cited in clause (i)(II), defense articles for which Australian laws, regulations, or other commitments would prevent Australia from enforcing the control measures specified in such treaty.

(2) Requirements of bilateral agreement

A bilateral agreement referred to 5 paragraph (1)—

(A) shall, at a minimum, require the foreign country, as necessary, to revise its policies and practices, and promulgate or enact necessary modifications to its laws and regulations to establish an export control regime that is at least comparable to United States law, regulation, and policy requiring—

(i) conditions on the handling of all United States-origin defense items exported to the foreign country, including prior written United States Government approval for any reexports to third countries;

(ii) end-use and retransfer control commitments, including securing binding end-use and retransfer control commitments from all end-users, including such documentation as is needed in order to ensure compliance and enforcement, with respect to such United States-origin defense items;

(iii) establishment of a procedure comparable to a “watchlist” (if such a watchlist does not exist) and full cooperation with United States Government law enforcement agencies to allow for sharing of export and import documentation and background information on foreign businesses and individuals employed by or otherwise connected to those businesses; and

(iv) establishment of a list of controlled defense items to ensure coverage of those items to be exported under the exemption; and

(B) should, at a minimum, require the foreign country, as necessary, to revise its policies and practices, and promulgate or enact necessary modifications to its laws and regulations to establish an export control regime that is at least comparable to United States law, regulation, and policy regarding—

(i) controls on the export of tangible or intangible technology, including via fax, phone, and electronic media;

(ii) appropriate controls on unclassified information relating to defense items exported to foreign nationals;

(iii) controls on international arms trafficking and brokering;

(iv) cooperation with United States Government agencies, including intelligence agencies, to combat efforts by third countries to acquire defense items, the export of which to such countries would not be authorized pursuant to the export control regimes of the foreign country and the United States; and

(v) violations of export control laws, and penalties for such violations.

(3) Advance certification

Not less than 30 days before authorizing an exemption for a foreign country from the licensing requirements of this chapter for the export of defense items, the President shall transmit to the Committee on International Relations of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate a certification that—

(A) the United States has entered into a bilateral agreement with that foreign country satisfying all requirements set forth in paragraph (2);

(B) the foreign country has promulgated or enacted all necessary modifications to its laws and regulations to comply with its obligations under the bilateral agreement with the United States; and

(C) the appropriate congressional committees will continue to receive notifications pursuant to the authorities, procedures, and practices of section 2776 of this title for defense exports to a foreign country to which that section would apply and without regard to any form of defense export licensing exemption otherwise available for that country.

(4) Definitions

In this section:

(A) Defense items

The term “defense items” means defense articles, defense services, and related technical data.

(B) Appropriate congressional committees

The term “appropriate congressional committees” means—

(i) the Committee on International Relations and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives; and

(ii) the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate.