Who Controls Exports

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A number of different government agencies have responsibilities for export controls. Each holds jurisdiction over specific types of technology or restricted trade. Those most relevant are:

Department of State

The Department of State controls the export of "defense articles and defense services" under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). In coordination with the Department of Defense, the State Department determines if an article or service is to be export controlled based on whether the item or technology: (1) Is inherently military in character, or (2) was specially designed, modified, or engineered for military applications. If so, the item or technical information is placed on the U.S. Munitions List.

The Munitions List includes such obvious things as firearms, ammunition, and explosives. It also includes all military vehicles (land, air, and sea); spacecraft (including nonmilitary); military and space electronics; protective personnel equipment; guidance and control equipment; and components, auxiliary equipment, and miscellaneous articles related to military equipment. Export of any item on the Munitions List requires specific authorization from the State Department.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

The NRC controls the export of certain nuclear equipment and materials under the Atomic Energy Act and the Non-Proliferation Act.

Department of Commerce

Commerce controls the export of all commodities, technologies, and software not regulated by another government agency. This is done through the Department's Bureau of Export Administration (BXA), which maintains an extensive, multi-volume manual of Export Administration Regulations - known as the EAR.

Key to the EAR is the Commerce Control List. This is not actually a list, but a section of the EAR that lists specific technologies and the countries to which those technologies may or may not be exported, along with any special restrictions or exceptions that may apply. There can be confusing overlap between EAR-regulated items and items on the U.S. Munitions List. For assistance or to see a current copy of the Commerce Control List, contact the Laboratory's Export Control Officer.

Department of Energy (DOE)

The DOE controls the export of:

    • Special nuclear material production technologies under the Atomic Energy Act.
    • Sensitive unclassified scientific and technical information related to the development and production of weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical, and biological) and their delivery systems (including missiles), conventional weapons, and other technologies deemed significant to the national security of the United States.

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Last modified: March 11, 2006