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Article: US State Dept reduces arms licensing burden for UK, Australia to boost AUKUS

US State Dept reduces arms licensing burden for UK, Australia to boost AUKUS

US State Dept reduces arms licensing burden for UK, Australia to boost AUKUS

PHOTO CAPTION: U.S. Navy Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Tennessee (SSBN 734), an United Kingdom Royal Navy Vanguard-class nuclear submarine, an E6-B Mercury and an MH60R Sea Hawk helicopter are seen in the Atlantic Ocean, Nov. 22, 2022. (U.S. Navy photo by Naval Aircrewman (Operator) 1st Class Aaron Abbott via U.S. Defense Visual Information Distribution Service)

 

 

By Mike Stone

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department unveiled its proposal to reduce licensing requirements for transferring military equipment and sensitive technology to Australia and Britain as part of the AUKUS defense project.

AUKUS, formed in 2021 to address shared worries about China's growing power, would involve Australia acquiring nuclear-powered attack submarines, among other items of defense cooperation. But the sharing of closely guarded technology is governed by strict U.S. International Trafficking in Arms Regulations (ITAR).

Under the rule change proposed by the U.S. Department of State on Tuesday, the Department's Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) will no longer be required to license or approve defense articles, which will reduce some administrative burdens for companies seeking to make defense products in Australia or the UK.

"This exemption is designed to foster defense trade and cooperation between and among the United States and two of its closest allies," the State Department said in its posting in the Federal Register.

The State Department said the new rule would still generate an "excluded" items list, making approval necessary for articles with national security import. A list of authorized users would also be generated to ensure that sensitive technologies remained contained.

Jeff Bialos, a former senior Defense Department official now a partner with the Eversheds Sutherland law firm, said the State Department has resisted blanket exemptions for Britain and Australia since they were first proposed by the Pentagon nearly 25 years ago, while he was in office.The U.S. Commerce Department announced it was scaling back export control requirements for Australia and the United Kingdom to earlier this month. The Commerce Department only handles licensing of some defense-related items, not the broader range of items covered by the ITAR regime, which is governed by the State Department's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.

A public comment period on the rule will begin on May 1 and end on the 31st.



(Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington, additional reporting by David Brunnstrom; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

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