Created July 1, 1996

Summary of the Report of the
Presidential Advisory Board on Arms Proliferation Policy

The Creation of the President's Advisory Board on Arms Proliferation Policy was mandated by Title XVI Section 1601 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1994 to conduct a study of (1) the factors that contribute to the proliferation of strategic and advanced conventional military weapons and related equipment and technologies, and (2) the policy options that are available to the United States to inhibit such proliferation. The five-member board was established by Executive Order 12946 on Jan. 20, 1995, and tasked to advise the President on implementation of United States conventional arms transfer policy and other issues related to arms proliferation policy. Areas specified for study include trends in the international arms market instruments of restraint, export financing facilities, and the relationship between arms exports and the defense industrial base. The board members are: Dr. Janne E. Nolan, Chair, Edward Randolph Jayne II, Ronald F. Lehman, David E. McGiffert, and Paul C. Warnke.

Improving the Government's Processes for Export Control Policy and Administration:

"In its examination of arms proliferation policy, the Board recognizes that U.S. goals are neither solely nor even primarily in the arms control arena. The composite national security strategy, foreign policy, and domestic agenda of the government reflects an attempt to optimize among incommensurate and not always complementary objectives. Thus, the interagency process created to make decisions should represent effectively the diverse views of the various department and agencies created to address different objectives of the United States. Certainly, for example, the State Department must weigh diplomatic considerations, the Defense Department must consider its own programs and overseas security relationships, and the Commerce Department must look to trade. All of the major departments also have an interest in preventing the proliferation of weapons and technologies of concern, but in each case that perspective is subject to countervailing pressures at all levels of decision-making.

"The most prominent players in export control decisions are now the State Department, the Commerce Department, and the Treasury Department. Although the Defense Department does not make final licensing decisions, its views and those of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency heavily influence those decisions. The Board found reason to be concerned that due regard may not be given to nonproliferation issues, absent a clear voice representing that perspective at all levels, including the Oval Office. The Board believes that this responsibility has rested primarily with the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency since 1961. Until such time as the threat from proliferation is greatly diminished, the Board believes that such an independent agency is essential and a further strengthening of its nonproliferation mandate is warranted."

Negotiation of an International Control Regime:

"The Board believes that the first priority for the U.S. government is to continue, with a greater dedication of resources, to push for international consensus and control mechanisms to limit selected conventional weapons and technologies. The fundamental principles of national, international, and regional security, and arms control must be the basis for that consensus. U.S. leadership is essential; nothing will happen without it."

The Conventional Weapons Challenge:

"...the Board is strongly convinced that control of conventional arms and technology transfers must become a significantly more important and integral element of United States foreign and defense policy if the overall goals of nonproliferation are to succeed."

The Defense Industrial Base:

"The final economic issue reviewed by the Board involves arguments by some in the U.S. defense industry who contend that robust foreign arms sales are critical for sustaining an adequate defense industrial base. The Board rejects any notion that stepping back from well-conceived arms restraint policies is the way to ensure the health of our defense industrial base. The radical restructuring and adjustment to much smaller markets in the world's defense industries will, as the RAND and other studies document, continue into the foreseeable future. The export market is much too small to offset the overall decline in defense procurement.

"In short, the Board believes that, in general, the best solution to overcapacity in defense industries, in the United States and worldwide, is to reduce supply rather than increase demand. With due regard to the complexities involved, the Board believes that an approach that discourages subsidizing or otherwise maintaining uneconomical defense industries makes the most sense. Unwise arms sales remain unwise no matter how many jobs are involved; moreover, those jobs are protected only in the short term."

Summary of major recommendations:

"The fundamental principles of national security, international and regional security, and arms control must be the basis for international agreement. The inevitable economic pressures that will confront individual states should not be allowed to subvert these principles.

"U.S. arms transfer policy can and should be developed and executed separate from policies for maintenance of the defense industrial base.

"...the Board is convinced of the need for closer legislative-executive cooperation. The inherently transnational character of the arms market and the absence of consensus among governments regarding common policy objectives also make it clear that efforts to elicit other countries' support for new initiatives should be given the highest priority. The Executive Branch initiative, with the backing of Congress, is essential to this task."

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