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January 24, 2007 

Federation of American Scientists Obtains List of Unfavorable ITAR End-Use Checks

The Federation of American Scientist's (FAS) Strategic Security Blog has posted on its website a list of “unfavorable determinations” during fiscal years 2002 through 2004 resulting from end-use checks of U.S. arms exports performed under the State Department's Blue Lantern Program. Blue Lantern end-use checks are conducted by U.S. mission personnel abroad and, in some instances, DDTC personnel to verify the destination and specific end-use and end-users of U.S. commercial defense exports. FAS obtained the document pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

According to FAS:

The FOIA document - and the annual reports that it supplements - are poignant reminders of the importance of strong arms export controls, including rigorous end-use monitoring. US defense articles and services are sought by terrorists, criminals, and rogue regimes the world over, and too often the only thing that stands between them and the weapons they seek is a vigilant licensing officer. In 2004, for example, a pre-license check on a request to send pistols to violence-racked Central America revealed that the purported end-user was a front company set up by a firearms retailer under investigation for violating local gun laws. The license was denied and both countries were added to the State Department's watchlist.

The document also speaks to the importance of strong export controls on all transfers, including exports to close allies. As recently as 2004, proponents of arms export control “reform” were calling for a relaxation on controls on exports to certain countries. Congressional opponents balked at these requests, pointing out that even arms exports to America's closest allies are not exempt from end-use problems. The FOIA document supports these claims. Of the 191 unfavorable determinations identified in the document, 26 involve NATO members and 34 involve the so-called “NATO +3” countries (NATO members + Australia, Japan, and New Zealand). While the document is too vague to determine the exact nature of the problems that led to the determinations, past end-use monitoring reports provide some insight. In 2002, for example, the State Department reported that, "[a]s in previous years, the incidence of Western European-based intermediaries involved in suspicious transactions continues to be notable. In FY 2002, 26% of the 50 unfavorable checks, mostly for the export of aircraft spare parts, involved possible transshipments through allied countries. Possible transshipments through Europe as a whole accounted for 34% of the unfavorable checks."
The list of "unfavorable determinations" can be found at the following link.

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