Satellites Could be Removed From ITAR List

Officials in Washington are moving forward with reforming the nation’s restrictive export laws, which have been blamed for costing U.S. companies business overseas while building up competition abroad.

Rep. C. A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger (D-MD) has introduced the “Strengthening America’s Satellite Industry Act” that would allow most satellites and related components to be removed from United States Munitions List.

SEC. 5. AUTHORITY TO REMOVE SATELLITES AND RELATED COMPONENTS FROM THE UNITED STATES MUNITIONS LIST.

    (a) Authority- Except as provided in subsection (b) and subject to subsection (d), the President is authorized to remove satellites and related components from the United States Munitions List, consistent with the procedures in section 38(f) of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2778(f)).
    (b) Exception- The authority of subsection (a) may not be exercised with respect to any satellite or related component that may, directly or indirectly, be transferred to, or launched into outer space by, the People’s Republic of China.
    (c) United States Munitions List- In this section, the term `United States Munitions List’ means the list referred to in section 38(a)(1) of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2778(a)(1)).
    (d) Effective Date- The President may not exercise the authority provided in this section before the date that is 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.

Space News reports that the measure is in line with a new report on export reform:

Export licensing jurisdiction for most U.S. commercial communications satellites and related components could be transferred to the U.S. Department of Commerce without posing much risk to national security, according to an interim report prepared by the U.S. Defense and State departments.

Currently all U.S. satellites and related components reside on the U.S. Munitions List (USML), a register of militarily sensitive items whose exports are tightly controlled by the State Department. The Commerce Department licenses items on the Commerce Control List (CCL), which contains dual-use items that are less sensitive from a national security perspective.

“Based on the interim analysis, the risk associated with moving commercial [communications satellites] from the USML is manageable from a national security perspective, with a few narrowly defined exceptions,” states the interim report, “Risk Assessment of United States Export Control Policy,” which was delivered May 6 to key committees on Capitol Hill. “Therefore, at this time, with certain exceptions, conditions, and limitations, commercial [communications satellites], related components (including those components in common with military and civil government satellites), and information necessary for integration and launch of these satellites by foreign launch service providers, could be removed from the USML without posing an unacceptable security risk.”

This is only an interim report at the moment; the final one is not due until the latter half of this year. The executive branch is also conducting its own export control review.