Magazine article Arms Control Today

Post-COCOM 'Wassenaar Arrangement' Set to Begin New Export Control Role

Magazine article Arms Control Today

Post-COCOM 'Wassenaar Arrangement' Set to Begin New Export Control Role

Article excerpt

THE 28-NATION successor regime to the Cold War-era Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (COCOM) took another step toward operation December 19, when members agreed on the "initial elements" of the so-called "Wassenaar Arrangement." Formerly called the "New Forum," the 'Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies" will, according to the State Department, be the first global multilateral regime covering both armaments and sensitive dual-use goods and technology.

Named for the city in The Netherlands where representatives held their latest meeting December 18 and 19, the new regime will be a broader but weaker successor to the now-defunct COCOM. The State Department asserts that the group "seeks to prevent destabilizing buildups of weapons by establishing a formal process of transparency, consultation and, where appropriate, multilateral restraint."

The membership (comprised of all NATO countries except Iceland, plus Australia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland) will rely on the coordination of its members' individual conventional arms and dual-use item export control policies.

Unlike COCOM, members will not have the right to veto each other's transfers. Participants also will not target a specific group of states, but will work to prevent destabilizing accumulations of conventional weapons and transfers of arms and sensitive technologies "for military enduses" in so-called "rogue" states. The United States has identified Iran, Iraq, Libya and North Korea as states whose behavior would merit such strictures.

The regime's transparency is to be achieved by voluntary data exchanges involving four categories of information. First, on a semi-annual basis, members will provide information on their conventional arms transfers to non-participating states covered by the group's Munitions List. These declarations will comprise the seven categories of weapons contained in the UN Register of Conventional Arms: battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, artillery pieces, attack helicopters, combat aircraft, warships, and missiles and missile launchers. Notifications will include recipient countries, the number of exports in each category and, with exception of missiles and missile launchers, the model numbers and descriptions of the weapons. …

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