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September 30, 2010 

Better Late Than Never: U.S. Senate Approves U.S.-U.K. and U.S.-Australia Defense Trade Treaties

More than three years after they were signed, yesterday the U.S. Senate ratified the U.S.-United Kingdom and U.S.-Australia Defense Trade Cooperation Treaties. While the Treaty Clause of the U.S. Constitution require two-thirds vote of Senators present to concur, both treaties were approved by an unrecorded division vote.

The two treaties allow for the export or transfer of certain defense articles and defense services controlled pursuant to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) between certain persons in the U.S. and the United Kingdom or between certain persons in the United States and Australia without the need for export licenses or other ITAR authorizations to be issued by the State Department's Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC).

Specifically, the treaties create Approved Communities of government and private sector entities that may receive defense articles and defense services under the treaties. To qualify for membership in these communities, private entities must meet specific requirements, which for U.K. and Australian private entities includes approved for inclusion by the USG and their respective governments.

Under the treaties, it will be possible for most U.S. defense articles to be exported into, and within, these communities without licenses or other authorizations pursuant to the ITAR as long as the exports are in support of:

  • Certain combined military and counter-terrorism operations;
  • Certain cooperative security and defense research, development, production, and support programs;
  • Certain Mutually agreed security and defense projects where the end-user is the Government of the United Kingdom or the Government of Australia; or
  • Certain U.S. Government end-uses.

The United States and the U.K., and the U.S. and Australia must jointly agree on which projects, programs and operations qualify for processing under the terms of the treaties. U.K. and Australian retransfer or re-exports of items originally exported pursuant to either treaty to a person outside the respective Approved Communities will require U.S. Government approval and U.K. or Australian authorization as appropriate.

The full text of the treaties, along with the implementing arrangements, list of exempted defense articles and definitions, can be found here.

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