Statement by Assistant to the President for Press Relations Fitzwater on Strategic Technology Export Controls


September 18, 1987


The United States Government welcomes recent measures taken by the Japanese Government, and those soon to be enacted in Norway, to strengthen export controls. Diversions of strategic technology by Toshiba Machinery and the Norwegian firm Kongsberg Vappenfabrik have undermined our common security and demonstrated the inadequacy of existing national laws and procedures. Japanese legislative and administrative actions increase criminal penalties and statutes of limitations, mandate new and stricter licensing procedures, provide for tight export control procedures by companies, and for close governmental monitoring of these. The Norwegian Government will this month introduce a new comprehensive export control law in the Parliament, or Storting, that will strengthen Norway's national laws and procedures along these same lines.


The Paris-based Coordinating Committee (COCOM), which is composed of 16 allies, including the United States, serves the common security of its member nations by preventing militarily useful technologies from reaching the Soviet Union. COCOM reflects the principle that the security of the West and of Japan is based on the qualitative technology edge that we are able to maintain in our weapons systems. COCOM exists to protect that critical advantage. The serious diversion of nine-axis milling machines and numerical controllers for use in the Soviet program to quiet submarines serves as an unfortunate, yet graphic, example of the damage which can be done to our collective security.


The Congress has offered a number of bills and amendments that would punish Toshiba and Kongsberg through mandatory sanctions and compensation. But the technology diversion problem is broader than the specific violations of the firms that are currently the targets of legislation. The real problem lies in the shortcomings of national export control systems, and responsibility rests with allied governments to make and enforce the necessary changes. Therefore, the administration opposes these bills and amendments.


It is now essential that all COCOM partners strengthen their national export controls to prevent further diversions. High technology products in the 1980's are produced worldwide, and the Soviet Union targets its acquisition programs wherever the technology can be found. The administration has begun an aggressive and unprecedented effort to urge that all COCOM partners take steps to prevent further diversions and strengthen national export control systems. The administration plans to consult with the Congress on the progress made as well as on next steps to prevent and deter attempts at future diversions.