Memorandum for the Files, by John H. Kean of the Office of Northeast Asian Affairs

  • Subject:
  • Relationship between U.S. and International Strategic Export Control Lists.

Introduction. The U.S. positive list1 includes all items under export control in the U.S. for either strategic or short supply reasons. Consequently, it is the most all embracing list which stems from executive branch action. “Rated items” are all items which are subject to export controls for strategic reasons. Such items are included on the following U.S. lists: U.S. List I and IA, exports of which are embargoed to all Soviet destinations; U.S. List II and IIB, exports of which to the Soviet Bloc are theoretically subject to quantitative limitation but which in practice are embargoed; and U.S. List IC which includes items of a lower strategic rating, exports of which are not to exceed certain restricted limitations. The latter list (IC) is badly in need of review and in fact its elimination as a category is under consideration with all the items included to be either upgraded or removed from the “rated” category.

Embargo Lists. The U.S. List I is identical with International List I as agreed by COCOM and all items included are embargoed to Soviet destinations by all COCOM countries. U.S. List IA is the [Page 832] residual; on these items there is a U.S. embargo but since unanimous agreement was not obtained in COCOM, these items do not appear on International List I. Some of the U.S. IA items are found on International List II, some on International List III, and some are not on any international list.

Quantitative Restriction Lists. U.S. List II and International List II are identical. International List II includes items of high strategic rating, exports of which are subject to quantitative limitations. Overall quotas for export from all COCOM countries are established and these are broken down with quotas for each individual country. These quotas may be exceeded with the agreement of the Coordinating Committee in cases where it is shown that the strategic advantage rests with the West in the case of any given proposed transaction.

So far as the U.S. List II is concerned, these are theoretically subject only to quantitative restriction but are in fact and in practice embargoed to all Soviet destinations. U.S. List IIB receives similar treatment and includes those items of high strategic rating on which the U.S. sought but failed to obtain COCOM agreement and overall quota limitations. Items on U.S. List IIB appear either in International List III or else do not appear on any international list.

Watch Lists. There is an International List III for which the COCOM countries agree to exchange information on a monthly basis on exports to the Bloc but no agreed limitation is established on such exports. There is no comparable U.S. list. U.S. List IC includes only one item on International List III. Moreover, U.S. List IC provides that there shall be only limited exports rather than that the U.S. merely watches the volume of exports. However, this very provision in the criteria for approval of licenses for exports to the Bloc of IC items provides a loophole in U.S. controls. U.S. licensing practice virtually embargoes all items for export to the Soviet Bloc whether they appear on the positive list or not. But since the licensing officer is authorized to license goods on U.S. List IC in restricted quantities, it follows that items with this strategic rating may be shipped to Soviet destinations, at least in restricted quantities, more easily than non-rated items. As a result, U.S. List IC is scheduled for early review and probably will be eliminated.

  1. The reference here is to the export control list which had been maintained by the Department of Commerce since the inception of the export control program in 1948. The International Lists were prepared pursuant to the formation of the CGCOCOM structure in late 1949 and early 1950. For documentation on the latter, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. iv, pp. 65 ff. Both of these lists are to be distinguished from the lists maintained by the Mutual Security Agency, and thereafter by the Foreign Operations Administration, in accordance with the provisions of the Battle Act, as described in footnote 1, p. 819.