960123 The Wassenaar Arrangement (by Lynn E. Davis)  Return to: Index of "Arms Control, Counter-terrorism and Military Affairs || Electronic Research Collections Index || ERC Homepage

U.S. Department of State
96/01/23 Address: Lynn Davis on The Wassenaar Arrangement
Office of the Spokesman

                        U.S. Department of State 
                        Office of the Spokesman 
                               Address by 
         Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International 
                      Security Affairs Lynn E. Davis 
                Carnegie Endowment for International Peace 
                            Washington D.C. 
                           January 23, 1996 

                       The Wassenaar Arrangement 
In December 1995, twenty-eight governments agreed to establish a new 
international regime to increase transparency and responsibility for the 
global market in conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies.  
The official name of the regime is "The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export 
Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies" -- 
Wassenaar being the town outside The Hague where five rounds of 
negotiations took place over the past two years.    
The Wassenaar Arrangement is just an initial international framework 
that will need to be elaborated and defined more fully.  But it already 
represents some notable achievements for U.S. foreign policy.  For the 
first time there is a global mechanism for controlling transfers of 
conventional armaments, and a venue in which governments can consider 
collectively the implications of various transfers on their 
international and regional security interests.  In view of the close 
association between advanced technologies, including production 
technologies, and modern battlefield weapons, sensitive dual-use 
commodities will receive the same measure of scrutiny as do arms. 
Moreover, the preliminary scope of international support for this 
enterprise is already quite broad.  Our friends and allies in Europe and 
in the Pacific comprise the core membership, but Russia and the four 
Visegrad states of Central Europe have also joined as full members.   
The composition and the goals of The Wassenaar Arrangement are tailored 
to respond to the new security threats of the post-Cold War world, and 
will close a critical gap in the international control mechanisms, which 
have concentrated on preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass 
destruction and their delivery systems.  While The Wassenaar Arrangement 
will not duplicate the other non-proliferation mechanisms, it will 
through a variety of means complement and, where necessary, reinforce 
Restraint in Trade to Pariahs 
Even before its establishment, the regime has served to attract 
countries worldwide wishing to join the first post-Cold War security 
To meet the membership criteria, they have taken steps to adhere to the 
policies of the other non-proliferation regimes and to establish 
effective export controls.  Most importantly, all of the participating 
countries currently maintain national policies to prevent transfers of 
arms and sensitive technologies for military purposes to the four pariah 
countries--Iran, Iraq, Libya, and North Korea.  This is a critical 
requirement that the United States insisted on--and will continue to 
insist on in examining the credentials of new members. 
The United States has sought and obtained commitments through sensitive, 
high-level negotiations that produced bilateral agreements with Russia 
and other prospective members to close down their arms sales to Iran and 
forego any new contracts involving arms and arms-related technologies.  
By requiring responsible arms transfer policies as a condition for 
membership, the new regime furthers our international security interests 
and the security of long-standing allies, such as Israel and South Korea 
who live in dangerous neighborhoods. 
Further, The Wassenaar Arrangement calls for enhancing cooperation among 
the participants to prevent the acquisition of armaments and sensitive 
dual-use items for military end-uses, if the situation in a region or 
the behavior of a state is or becomes a cause for serious concern to the 
participating states.  The transparency provisions in the new 
arrangement and our own national technical means will give us confidence 
that current policies of restraint toward the pariah countries are 
continuing and that future transfer policies remain consistent with this 
Does this mean that we have bridged our differences with Europe over 
high technology sales to Iran?  Unfortunately, we continue to have 
serious concerns with European policy in this area.  What we have 
obtained to date is a growing recognition that certain levels of high 
technology trade, even when intended for civilian use, should not be 
carried on in secrecy.   
When it comes to dangerous regimes like Iran, international 
transparency--and accountability--are necessary.  The Wassenaar 
Arrangement will help advance that proposition through the initial 
information sharing measures.  But, those measures need to go much 
further before we can say there are effective international guidelines 
in place that will prevent future tyrants from embarking upon the kind 
of military build-up that Saddam Hussein undertook before invading 
Preventing Destabilizing Accumulations of Arms 
Indeed, the Gulf War has been a critical factor shaping the U.S. 
negotiating positions, because it serves as a stark reminder of the 
dangers to international peace and security that can result from the 
destabilizing accumulations of conventional weapons and the 
indiscriminate export of arms and sensitive dual-use technologies.  The 
case of Iraq showed us that often the only constraint on a state's 
ability to obtain dangerous arms is its ability to pay for them.  
Suppliers from both East and West, including our allies and American 
firms, contributed in different ways to Saddam Hussein's multi-billion 
dollar military build-up. 
How will this arrangement begin to help us prevent future Iraqs?   
During plenary discussions and working group meetings, governments will 
share intelligence on potential threats to international and regional 
peace and stability.  They will look particularly at clandestine 
projects and dubious acquisition trends.  They will also exchange 
specific information on a regular basis about global transfers to non-
participating countries of certain sensitive dual-use goods and 
technologies.  More than one hundred of these have been selected for 
this information sharing, including machine tools, computers, and 
telecommunications.  The details of this special sensitive list will be 
published shortly.    
Governments have agreed to notify denials of items on this list to non-
participating states promptly on an individual, case-by-case basis and 
of transfers on an aggregate and periodic basis. They will also require 
notification of any transfers of any sensitive list item previously 
denied by another member state for an essentially identical transaction. 
This transparency in the transfer of sensitive dual-use goods and 
technologies will help the new regime identify acquisition patterns that 
suggest emerging threats to regional and international peace.  
Transparency also allows countries to alert one another to export 
requests that warranted denials.  This will help foster common and 
consistent export policies, while eliminating inadvertent undercuts by 
participants.  Although all export decisions will remain fundamentally 
at the discretion of each country, transparency will enhance 
responsibility in arms transfers because countries will only go forward 
with those transfers that they are prepared to defend to the others in 
the arrangement. 
We will obtain similar benefits from the transparency regime on the arms 
side.  We will provide information on arms transfers on a weapons list, 
that initially will be composed of the categories of major weapons 
systems used for the CFE Treaty and the UN Arms Register.  The 
information will come twice a year and include more details than 
previously available, such as descriptions of the model and type of all 
weapons, except for missiles.  And we have agreed as a priority to 
expand and redefine that list to cover more comprehensively the weapons 
of modern warfare. 
In the cases of both armaments and dual-use items, governments will have 
the ability to request additional information on individual transfers 
through diplomatic channels. 
In addition, The Wassenaar Arrangement is expected to provide for more 
intensive consultations and more intrusive information sharing among six 
major weapons suppliers: the U.S., United Kingdom, Russia, France, 
Germany, and Italy. 
From the United States perspective, we hope that this group will provide 
the means of defining common approaches to trade with regions of 
potential instability, such as the Middle East and South Asia.  It could 
also include steps to enhance stability by preventing the introduction 
of sophisticated weaponry in certain parts of the world, where it 
currently does not exist.  We have made some specific proposals to the 
other five suppliers concerning timely notification of shipments of 
major weapons and the development of measures to address situations of 
particular concern.  
National Controls 
As is the case for the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Australia Group, and 
the Missile Technology Control Regime, The Wassenaar Arrangement is 
based on national controls.  It is not directed against any state or 
group of states and will not impede bona fide transactions.  Nor will it 
interfere with the rights of states to acquire legitimate means with 
which to defend themselves.  Rather it is focused on the behavior of 
states, and especially on dangerous behavior.   
Participants have agreed to control globally all items set forth on a 
basic list of dual-use goods and technologies and on a munitions list, 
with the objective of preventing unauthorized transfers or re-transfers 
of these items. The new arrangement will thus not involve license-free 
trade among the participants.  Governments have also agreed to exercise 
extreme vigilance in trade on a very sensitive list of dual-use goods 
and technologies. 
Controls of items on the various lists will  
be implemented through each of the participating country's laws and 
regulations.  In the U.S., most of the items covered under this 
arrangement are already subject to U.S. licensing requirements.  Any 
modifications to U.S. regulations necessary to carry out the 
requirements of the arrangement will be published in the coming months.   
Next Steps  
The first plenary meeting of The Wassenaar Arrangement is slated for 
early April in Vienna.  Vienna will be the home base for the regime and 
the site of a small secretariat to conduct day-to-day work.  Member 
governments will use the intervening months to make preparations at the 
national level necessary to carry out the understandings they have 
reached and to work out the modalities for sharing information on 
specific transfers. 
The Wassenaar Arrangement will be open, on a global and non-
discriminatory basis to all countries meeting the agreed membership 
criteria.  There is a line forming of countries seeking membership, 
e.g., Argentina, South Korea, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine.  We hope that 
some of these countries will have met the criteria by the time of our 
April plenary.  
Perspective on the Arrangement 
Although the COCOM parties were responsible for initiating development 
of The Wassenaar Arrangement, the successor regime differs significantly 
in its goals and procedures, given the changed strategic environment. 
COCOM was designed as an institution of the Cold War to respond to the 
threat posed by the Soviet Union and its allies.  The West sought to 
maintain its qualitative edge on the battlefield by a virtual 
prohibition on sales of arms to "communist countries" and by controlling 
the export of strategic products and technical data.   
As the original threats of the Cold War diminished, new threats to 
global security began to emerge, including the spread of weapons of mass 
destruction and their delivery systems.  This led the U.S. and other 
countries to develop worldwide non-proliferation regimes, such as the 
Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime, and the 
Australia Group.  The Wassenaar Arrangement extends and complements this 
development.  And it begins, as did these other regimes, with the 
initial elements essential to getting underway the practical work--
frameworks, basic guidelines, and lists. 
Although we are pleased that the regime will be up and running at the 
April plenary, I want to note quite frankly that the arrangement falls 
short of U.S. goals in some important areas.  We need to go further. 
Americans hold as a fundamental principle the importance of promoting 
international responsibility in arms transfers and in public 
accountability for these transfers.  Not all participants in this 
arrangement share this view and some have consistently resisted 
comprehensive information sharing--even in diplomatic channels.  
Specifically, the United States found itself alone in supporting prior 
notification of transfers. 
The United States also did not win support for focusing the information 
sharing on regions of instability and where the security risks are 
greatest, because participants raised political objections to 
"targeting" specific regions or countries.  Instead, we will begin with 
a global exchange. As a result, we will share and obtain not only all of 
the information that we would have available through a regional focus, 
but additional information as well.   
That said, The Wassenaar Arrangement provides an initial international 
framework to respond to the critical security threats of the post-Cold 
War world and to promote the overall non-proliferation and conventional 
arms transfer policies of the Clinton Administration. The realization of 
a broadly based multilateral arrangement covering conventional arms and 
dual-use commodities has only been possible through strong American 
leadership, leadership which must continue to ensure the further 
development of more specific measures in the new regime to meet the 
risks to international peace and stability around the world. 

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