The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies, commonly known as the Wassenaar Arrangement, is a multilateral export control regime (MECR) with 41 participating states including many former COMECON (Warsaw Pact) countries.
The Wassenaar Arrangement was established to contribute to regional and international security and stability by promoting transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies, thus preventing destabilizing accumulations. Participating States seek, through their national policies, to ensure that transfers of these items do not contribute to the development or enhancement of military capabilities which undermine these goals, and are not diverted to support such capabilities.
It is the successor to the Cold War-era Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (COCOM), and was established on 12 July 1996, in Wassenaar, the Netherlands, which is near The Hague. The Wassenaar Arrangement is considerably less strict than COCOM, focusing primarily on the transparency of national export control regimes and not granting veto power to individual members over organizational decisions. A Secretariat for administering the agreement is located in Vienna, Austria. Like COCOM, however, it is not a treaty, and therefore is not legally binding.
Every six months member countries exchange information on deliveries of conventional arms to non-Wassenaar members that fall under eight broad weapons categories: battle tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), large-caliber artillery, military aircraft, military helicopters, warships, missiles or missile systems, and small arms and light weapons.
The outline of the arrangement is set out in a document entitled "Guidelines & Procedures, including the Initial Elements". The list of restricted technologies is broken into two parts, the "List of Dual-Use Goods and Technologies" (also known as the Basic List) and the "Munitions List". The Basic List is composed of ten categories based on increasing levels of sophistication:
- Category 1 – Special Materials and Related Equipment
- Category 2 – Materials Processing
- Category 3 – Electronics
- Category 4 – Computers
- Category 5 – Part 1 – Telecommunications
- Category 5 – Part 2 – "Information Security"
- Category 6 – Sensors and "Lasers"
- Category 7 – Navigation and Avionics
- Category 8 – Marine
- Category 9 – Aerospace and Propulsion
Basic List has two nested subsections—Sensitive and Very Sensitive. Items of the Very Sensitive List include materials for stealth technology—i.e., equipment that could be used for submarine detection, advanced radar, and jet engine technologies.
The Munitions List has 22 categories, which are not labeled.
In order for an item to be placed on the lists, Member States must take into account the following criteria:
- Foreign availability outside Participating States
- Ability to effectively control the export of the goods
- Ability to make a clear and objective specification of the item.
- Controlled by another regime, such as the Australia Group, Nuclear Suppliers Group, or Missile Technology Control Regime
- Czech Republic
- New Zealand
- Republic of Korea
- Russian Federation
- South Africa
- United Kingdom
- United States
Admission requires states to:
- Be a producer or exporter of arms or sensitive industrial equipment
- Maintain non-proliferation policies and appropriate national policies, including adherence to:
- Non-proliferation policies, such as (where applicable) the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime, and the Australia Group
- Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Biological Weapons Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention and, where applicable, START I (including the Lisbon Protocol)
- Maintain fully effective export controls
China and Israel are not members, but they have aligned their export controls with Wassenaar lists, and are significant arms exporters. The Arrangement is open on a global and non-discriminatory basis to prospective adherents that comply with the agreed criteria. Admission of new members requires the consensus of all members.
During a state visit to India in November 2010, U.S. president Barack Obama announced U.S. support for India's bid for permanent membership to UN Security Council as well as India's entry to Nuclear Suppliers Group, Wassenaar Arrangement and Australia Group.
In December 2013, the list of export restricted technologies was amended to include internet-based surveillance systems. New technologies placed under the export control regime include "intrusion software"—software designed to defeat a computer or network's protective measures so as to extract data or information—as well as IP network surveillance systems.
The purpose of the amendments was to prevent Western technology companies from selling surveillance technology to governments known to abuse human rights. However, some technology companies have expressed concerns that the scope of the controls may be too broad, limiting security researchers' ability to identify and correct security vulnerabilities. Google and Facebook criticized the agreement for the restrictions it will place on activities like penetration testing, sharing information about threats, and bug bounty programs. They argue that the restrictions will weaken the security of participating nations and do little to curb threats from non-participant nations.
- Arms Export Control Act
- Defense Security Cooperation Agency
- Export Control Classification Number
- International Traffic in Arms Regulations
- Guidelines & Procedures, including the Initial Elements The Wassenaar Arrangement
- Participating States The Wassenaar Arrangement
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