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Towards NATO and EU Accession: Effective Export Control Legislation – Lessons Learned
June 21-22, 2005
Radisson Hotel, Sofia

Remarks by Mr. Leon Lowder, Second Secretary, US Embassy in Sofia

• First, I wish to thank the organizers for putting this event together

• I am especially pleased to be able to speak to you today. This seminar comes at the right time and can act as an important tool for helping Bulgaria and other countries in the region continue their progress in this area.

• Export controls truly are on the front line of our fight against proliferation.

• The United States goes to great lengths to ensure that small arms and light weapons transferred under our jurisdiction are done so with the utmost responsibility.

• All U.S. exports of defense articles and services must be approved by the Department of State. Assurances must be given by the importing country that arms will be used in a manner consistent with our criteria for arms exports.

• To ensure that arms are delivered to legitimate end-users, our government rigorously monitors arms transfers, investigating suspicious activity and acting quickly to curtail exports to those recipients who do not meet our strict criteria for responsible use.

• In the past five years, the United States has conducted thousands of end-use checks, interdicted thousands of illicit arms shipments at U.S. ports of exit, and cut-off exports entirely to five countries due to their failure to properly manage U.S. origin defense articles.

• The United States has also supported efforts to strengthen international and multilateral controls involving greater responsibility, transparency and restraint.

• The United States has welcomed and expressed its strong support for the principles embodied in the EU Code of Conduct for Arms Exports, which are consistent with U.S. arms transfer policy criteria.

• As a “best practice,” The United States places a fundamental importance on the promotion of democracy and the respect for human rights.

• For this reason, we deem it crucial to avoid export of military equipment when there is reason to believe that it will be used for internal repression or violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

• U.S. policy also stresses that arms transfers should not contribute to or result in destabilizing arms races, regional instability, armed aggression, the aggravation of conflicts, or terrorism.

• In the area of effective multilateralism, the United States believes that small steps by individual countries and collective steps by regional and subregional organizations go a long way toward establishing norms and practices that lead to the prevention of arms proliferation.

• The international nonproliferation regime that has evolved over the past thirty years is multilayered, comprised of global treaties, multilateral regimes, and national efforts.

• Part of the best practices in arms control today is this very important layer of multilateral export control regimes aimed at preventing the spread of conventional weapons and WMD.

• Some examples of the “best practice” control regimes are: The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), The Australia Group (AG), The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Wassenaar Arrangement, and the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI).

• The Bulgarian Government is an active participant in all of these international regimes and programs, and is engaged in exchanging information at the international and regional level. Bulgaria also enthusiastically participates in new interdiction programs like PSI.

• While these treaties and organizations are assets to halt the proliferation of arms and WMD, much of the real work centers on each country adopting effective laws and regulations to control movement of sensitive goods, technologies and weapons, and - equally important - developing the capability to enforce existing laws and regulations.

• Again, Bulgaria has taken great steps in the past six years to modernize its laws and regulations to control the export and import of arms and dual-use goods.

• Today, proposed arms and dual-use exports in Bulgaria are assessed on a case-by-case basis by a special commission composed of representatives from all key government ministries.

• This system helps limit attempts to steer or fast-track approvals through the export control system. It is clearly a “best practice.”

• Overall then, Bulgaria has tightened its export control laws and improved its enforcement capabilities. It has shown a new responsibility as a world citizen ensuring that Bulgarian arms and dual-use exports do not end in up in the hands of terrorists or land in potential conflict zones.

• Even though controls on exports are a major responsibility of every country, the United States also makes it our “best practice” policy to publish annual reports on arms exports with sufficient detail for our government and others to evaluate the implementation of our national and international commitments to arms restraint and non-proliferation.

• As a legal “best practice,” the United States policy is for strong, swift legal and financial punishment for American companies or citizens involved in illegal weapons diversion.

• In the U.S., criminal penalties for each violation involving controls imposed on the export of defense articles and defense services involve fines up to ,000,000 and up to 10 years imprisonment. Civil penalties range up to 0,000.

• Although a policy on the defense industry is a separate issue, in the long term, in many countries in this region arms export controls will be politically supported and strengthened only if the defense industry and its workers are given prosperous alternatives.

• The region’s governments should be proactive in bolstering the reputation of their defense industries by encouraging its industrial leaders to adhere to ethical codes and training procedures in line with the spirit of their international commitment to arms control.

• Lastly, a new problem that is facing all countries in this region, and internationally as well, is the growing number of off-shore arms brokers.

• Outside of national legislation and regulations, these brokers are a growing threat to the progress that has been made by all countries to improve the sale and export of arms and dual-use goods.

• Arms brokers are experts at using “shell” companies, shipping agents and distributors to arrange the sale of arms and weapons to crisis and conflict zones.

• Because of the lack of effective controls at the national and international level, the brokers, transportation agents and their intermediaries rarely break national export laws and operate with impunity despite the serious human rights abuses caused by such arms transfers.

• We think it should be a “best practice” of all countries to develop a framework for regulating and making more transparent the activities of international arms brokers and traffickers to help eliminate the flow of illicit weapons.

• For example, all commercial exporters of arms in the United States must be registered as brokers and submit each transaction for government licensing approval. Our brokering law is comprehensive, extending over citizens and foreign nationals in the United States, and also U.S. citizens operating abroad.

• In recent years, the U.S. has also worked closely with the Government of Bulgaria to tighten its export control regime and has urged greater oversight of its defense industries as Bulgaria continues its efforts to reform its export controls.

• Bulgarian-American nonproliferation & arms control cooperation:

o Permanent Export Control and Border Security Program (EXBS) advisor – based in Bucharest.
o TRACKER system (based in Ministry of Economy)
o To date .8 million in surplus SALW destruction funding
o Government to government consulting and information sharing
o Training programs and conferences

• In the end, the “best practices” of export controls depends on each country’s willingness to tackle the specific arms and dual-use export issues that face it as an individual country.

• The United States continues to actively support efforts with Bulgaria and like-minded countries in various multilateral export control regimes. We constantly exchange information about attempts by rogue states to acquire controlled technologies and arms, and assess whether additional items should be added to control lists.

• To sum up, we urge Bulgaria and other countries in the region not simply to look to the letter of their arms control commitments, but to exercise vigilance and control against efforts to sell arms and dual-use goods that would not only harm their international reputation, but threaten international security as well. That of course, is the “best practice” of all. THANK YOU.
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