As a dual-use technology, are these controls appropriate?

As a dual-use technology, are these controls appropriate?.


While President George W. Bush was unsympathetic to calls to substantially revise the U.S. export control system, President Barack Obama has been more responsive. In August 2010, the outlines of his response began to emerge in a speech he gave at the Department of Commerce and in an op-ed piece by National Security Adviser General James Jones in the Wall Street Journal. As suggested by the sites of the speech and article, the remarks focused on easing export controls as an economic benefit. There were, of course, assurances that the changes would not endanger national security. As evident in the readings, the debate over export controls seldom touches on specific items and instead centers on procedures such as streamlining the approval system and moving many dual-use components found in weapons systems from the highly restrictive U.S. Munitions List (USML) to the less sensitive Commerce Control List (CCL). In the end, though, the point of changing (or preserving) the approval process is to ease (or maintain) the current level of export controls. While easing export controls will almost certainly help the U.S. trade balance and employment picture at least a bit, it is also true that it will also benefit other countries. That is why China, India, and other countries have been pressing the United States, as well as the European Union, to ease the barriers. In 2010, for example, Vice Premier Wang Qishan of China met with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and other top Obama administration officials in the “hope,” as Wang put it, of hearing “from the U.S. side in detail its timetable and roadmap for gradually removing barriers to high-tech exports to China.” What changes the Obama administration will propose remain to be seen. The president has some unilateral ability to change export—by using executive orders, but other changes would require congressional action as well and are likely to meet with staunch resistance on the Hill. As for the impact on research and the work of foreign graduate students in some fields, there can be no doubt the controls over the export of sensitive information create issues. Nevertheless, some analysts worry about the growing share of foreign students among graduate students in U.S. universities doing work in many areas in science and engineering. In 2006, for instance, the percentages of Ph.D. degrees in the following fields received by foreign students were aeronautical/astronautical engineering (49 percent), chemistry

(40 percent), computer science (55 percent), electrical engineering (69 percent), mathematics (50 percent), materials/metallurgical engineering (56 percent), and physics (52 percent). These percentages create concerns among some about how relatively few Americans are getting advanced training in these areas and also the degree to which the United States is exporting training and knowledge that will help other countries compete with the United States economically and perhaps even militarily.


200 words for each question please

  1. Should the United States refuse to allow the export of a sensitive technology even if another country already has it and also is willing to export it?
  2. How do you relate this debate to the issues raised in Issue 8 about Iran’s claimed right to acquire the technology to enrich uranium?
  3. Currently, there are U.S. export controls on the most sophisticated night-vision goggles. As a dual-use technology, are these controls appropriate? For background, go to the Web site of American Technologies Network Corporation at

As a dual-use technology, are these controls appropriate?

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