The White House
October 6, 1995

EXPORT CONTROLS ON COMPUTERS

The President today announced a revision of U.S. export controls on computers which will enhance the effectiveness of our export control system, protect our national security, and ease regulatory burdens on both government and industry.

When controls were last revised in 1993, we knew that computer technology would continue to change rapidly - and that we would need to review controls levels within 18 to 24 months. Accordingly, for the past several months, the Administration has conducted a review of our computer export controls that took into account (1) the rapid advance of computing technology since 1993, (2) our security and nonproliferation interests, and (3) the need for a policy that would remain effective over the next 18 to 24 months.

This review found that enormous advances in the power and capabilities of computing systems coming into widespread commercial use have occurred and will continue to occur over the next two years. The commercial computer market is being transformed by the emergence of workstations containing multiple high-speed microprocessors, the ready available of high-speed communications links, and the continuing rapid progress in software to permit difficult problems to run in parallel and on networks.

Based on these developments, we conservatively judged that computers up to 7000 million theoretical operations per second (MTOPS, a standard measures of computing performance) will become widely available in open commerce within the next two years. We further judged that there are a significant number of important national security applications that have performance requirements at and above 10,000 MTOPS.

The proposed new computer export controls are designed around the following goals:

To permit the government to calibrate controls levels and licensing conditions depending upon the national security or proliferation risk posed at a specific destination;

To enhance U.S. national security and preserve the U.S. computer industrial base by ensuring controls on computer exports are effective and do not unnecessarily impede legitimate computer exports; and

To permit the government to track global sales, thereby illuminating how high-performance computing may be used to pursue critical military applications.

The Revised Controls

The revised controls announced by the Presidents divide into four country groups as follows:

For all these groups, reexport and retransfer provisions continue to apply. The revised controls will become effective after they are implemented in formal Commerce Department regulations.

We will continue to implement the Enhanced Proliferation Control Initiative (EPCI), which provides authority for the government to block exports of computers of any level in cases involving exports to end-uses or end-users of proliferation concern or risks of diversion to proliferation activities. Criminal as well as civil penalties apply to violators of the EPCI.

In addition, the Department of Commerce is developing additional measures to inform exporters of their obligations and of potential proliferations and other security risks. The Department will publish regulations clarifying exporters' duty to check suspicious circumstances and inquire about end-uses and end-users. Exporters will be advised to contact the Department of Commerce if industry outreach on proliferation and other security issues will be made available for computer companies producing or marketing high-performance computers.

Multilateral Coordination

The Administration is actively consulting with Japan in the context of our bilateral arrangement on high performance computers. We are also consulting with our partners engaged in the negotiations to establish a successor to COCOM (the New Forum), to ensure that they understand the basis for the new controls. We are committed to working closely with them to stem the flow of computers to destinations that present collective security concerns. Our controls are consistent with the basic foundations and principles of the New Forum negotiations -- to deny arms and sensitive dual-use technologies to countries of proliferation concern, and to develop mechanisms for information sharing among the partners as a way to harmonize our export control practices and policies.