Broader than Bombs: What the Arms Export Control Act Means to You


As a business owner you likely never imagined that the Arms Export Control Act (“AECA”) and the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (“ITAR”) might apply to you and your business. But the broad scope of these laws can have a substantial effect on both and result in serious consequences. Congress enacted these laws during the Cold War to control the import and export of defense articles, including nuclear weapons, listed on the United States Munitions List (“USML”). The AECA gives the President the authority to control the export of defense articles, and ITAR then delegates the statutory authority to the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State then regulates the import and export of the items and services listed on the USML. Due to additional regulation of exports in the past decade, enforcement by the United States government of activities under AECA and ITAR increased noticeably. As a result, individuals and businesses involved with items or services on the USML need to be aware of the implications and requirements under AECA and ITAR. This article addresses: (i) items on the USML; (ii) the application and requirements of AECA and ITAR pursuant to inclusion on the USML; and (iii) suggested steps if violations have already occurred.

I. Items on the USML

Inclusion of a business’s activities on the USML requires compliance with ITAR and AECA; therefore, a business needs to initially determine if its activities fall under the USML. The USML lists all articles, services and related information regulated by AECA and defined as “defense” articles and services.1 Articles and services are placed on the USML when they “contribute to an arms race, aid in the development of weapons of mass destruction, support international terrorism, increase the possibility of outbreak or escalation of conflict, or prejudice the development of bilateral or multilateral arms control or nonproliferation agreements or other arrangements.” Additionally, this language creates a broad scope of inclusion and includes items such as certain sound equipment, detection devices and trailers.2

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Published In: Administrative Agency Updates, Government Contracting Updates, International Trade Updates, Military Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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