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USML-Positive List

National Research Council, Committee on Science, Security, and Prosperity in a Changing World, Beyond Fortress America

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the Council on Governmental Relations (COGR) appreciate the opportunity to comment on the State Department’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) to revise the United States Munitions List (USML) to a “positive list” of controlled defense articles that was published in the Federal Register on December 10, 2010 (22 CFR Part 121, RIN1400-AC78), as well as the opportunity to comment on the Commerce Department’s ANPR (15 CFR Part 774; Docket No. 101112562-0577-01) to similarly revise the Commerce Department’s Commerce Control List (CCL) that was published in the Federal Register on December 9, 2010.

We fully support the Administration’s goals of clarifying the export licensing process through the use of proposed “tiered positive control lists.” Our understanding is that this phrase refers to a system in which items subject to control are defined in terms of objective performance or capability criteria, rather than inferences about their intended uses, and in which the level of control applied to an exported item is tailored to that item’s security significance. We also fully support the concept of drawing jurisdictional bright lines that make clear which federal agencies control the export of which items, and of structurally aligning the current control lists to give Commerce Department controls and State Department controls a common structure. The guidelines proposed in the ANPRs for use of objective criteria should be helpful to universities and other users in reducing the confusion and ambiguity that often are experienced with the control lists, particularly the State Department’s U.S. Munitions List. These reforms, if implemented appropriately, will facilitate compliance while reducing the cost and the regulatory burden imposed on exporters.