U.S. Congress Discussing Bill to Ease ITAR Satellite Export Controls
[Satellite Today 04-03-09] The U.S. Congress is looking at drafting a new version of the U.S. Foreign Affairs Bill that could ease export controls associated with International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), Aerospace Industries Association spokeswoman Alexis Allen said April 2, confirming a report in The New York Times.
The House of Representatives is holding committee hearings on a new version of the bill, which currently classifies satellite technology as weapons. The revisions that would ease the ITAR rules are backed by Democrats, according to Allen. "We’re glad to see some change in the works," she said. "We’ve been working on having these restrictions lifted for several years
The 1999 version of the U.S. Foreign Affairs Bill, which included strict controls of satellite exports, was in response to a 1998 incident in which Hughes and Loral were accused by Washington officials of giving China development aid for commercial and military rockets. As U.S. federal grand jury investigation resulted in the attachment of ITAR export controls to a 1999 U.S. defense bill that gave U.S. Congress the authority to supervise the exporting of satellites.
Despite signing the bill in 1999, former President Bill Clinton was critical of it, issuing a signing statement that it threatened to “hamper the U.S. satellite industry.”