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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 11, December 1996

Wassenaar Arrangement Plenary Meeting: US assessment

'Statements by Lynn Davis, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, at the Conclusion of the 12/13 December Wassenaar Plenary Meeting in Vienna,' Radisson Hotel, Vienna, 13 December 1996

The 'Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies' was provisionally set up by 28 States in December 1995 (see issue No. 2, February 1996). On 12 July in Vienna, 33 States adopted an 'Initial Elements Agreement' (see issue No. 7, July/August 1996).

The Members of the Arrangement are:

Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States.



"Let me begin by saying how pleased we are that the Wassenaar Arrangement is now up and running. This was our first plenary meeting of the 33 countries since the Arrangement's reporting provisions took effect.

...the central purpose of the Wassenaar Arrangement is to contribute to regional and international security and stability by promoting transparency and responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies. We approached this meeting with the overall goal of preventing the build-up of destabilizing numbers and kinds of weapons that led to the Gulf War in the early 1990s when Saddam Hussein was able to build up a vast quantity of conventional arms through the transfers of some of our own governments. So the Wassenaar Arrangement has been established in order to prevent such destabilizing build-ups in the future while at the same time to coordinate our current policies with respect to the dangers that we see in the world today. In particular the countries which participate in the Wassenaar Arrangement all have common policies of not transferring arms or dual-use goods and technologies to Iran, which is in our view one of the threats to security around the world.

In the course of discussions that we undertook over the last two days, we exchanged information and views on transfers of arms and dual-use goods and technologies to several regions of the world including Central and North Africa, as well as Afghanistan. ...we took note of the recent UN Security Council resolution which calls upon all States immediately to end the supply of arms and ammunition to all parties in the conflict in Afghanistan. In the course of our discussion and the exchanges of information, it became clear that as a matter of national policy, none of the participating states transfer arms or ammunition to the parties in the Afghan conflict. We discussed some of the administrative issues, and we put in place policies and guidelines having to do with confidentiality and how we will be exchanging information. Lastly, we agreed to a budget and further expansion of the Secretariat, located here in Vienna.

In a nutshell, we came and we had two days of very good meetings. We spent more than half the time talking about substantive issues, such as how to promote regional and international security. We also took care of some of the administrative details necessary to ensure that the foundation and support for this regime are in place, such as a work program looking ahead to the future."


"Question: 'What is the amount of the 1997 budget and what will happen here in Vienna at the Secretariat?'

Davis: 'I'm not sure that we would put out all of the terms of the budget, but in rough terms we will now be expanding the size of the Secretariat to some four or five people and taking over the facilities that the Austrian government is providing for us in terms of workspace. Now we will be able to have a place where governments will send their information in order to provide the transparency of the regime with respect to how it is that we transfer our arms and dual-use goods and technologies. The Secretariat will serve as the hub for the various governments in providing that information and sharing it with other states. The Secretariat will also provide support for the meetings and work that will go forward with respect to the Arrangement.'

Question: 'And who will serve as head of the Secretariat?'

Davis: 'We will continue, as we have in the past, to have the chairman of the plenary meetings act as the head of the Secretariat [Editor's note: Since April, the Chair has been Ambassador Steffan Sohlman of Sweden]. He will now be hiring professional staff to support him and the Secretariat.'
Question: 'Would you say that there has been an agreement on the work schedule?'

Davis: 'There has definitely been an agreement on the work schedule which looks to the goals we established in the Initial Elements document that has been made public. If you go through those elements you will find in seven or eight different places the next steps, that is the work called for in the future. We now have a work program that covers each of those steps and will be carried forward in 1997.'

Question: 'How many plenaries are you going to have next year?'

Davis: 'Well, we will have at least one plenary, which is what the Initial Elements call for, and we have left open the possibility of an additional one if it becomes necessary to carry the work forward.

I think the very important point here is that we have the Arrangement up, working, and functioning. It has a set of goals. They contribute to regional and international security and stability. Thirty-three countries, the major suppliers of arms and dual-use technologies, have joined together and not only agreed to this as the rules, but demonstrated in the very first meeting that they can work together to meet a particular risk: the conflict in Afghanistan.'
Question: 'What is the biggest danger in this regime, which country or which weapon?'

Davis: 'Well, I think you've asked the most important question. From the United States' point of view, we have been particularly concerned with the behavior of four countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, and North Korea. We've worked to bring together common policies with respect to our trade with these four countries. Because we know there are other dangers and risks, we wanted this regime to see itself as an active and flexible regime, able to respond to those risks. In our mind, Sudan is another country whose support for international terrorism gives cause for concern. During the course of this meeting, we were able to discuss why the United States views Sudan as a threat, respond to requests about our policies towards Sudan, which is not to trade arms, and encourage others to adopt that policy. ...'

Question: 'Which types of arms are considered dual-use?'

Davis: 'One of the important parts of the regime is the sharing of information. We will be encouraging transparency with respect to arms as well as the goods and technology that go into the making of arms such as dual-use goods, those goods that have both peaceful and military applications. It is not only arms, but those things that go into the manufacture of arms.

We discovered too late with respect to Saddam Hussein that he had taken goods that could be used for peaceful purposes and used them for military purposes. To be successful to meet the overall goals, it is very important that we cover both arms and dual-use technologies. That is what you have in this particular regime. For the first time, there will be transparency on a global scale. As a result, we will be able to see when and where build-ups like Iraq's might happen in the future.'

Question: 'Is it right that you want more transparency to conventional weapons and what was the reaction to your demands by the Europeans?'

Davis: 'One of our goals has been to have others become as transparent as the United States, as we are completely transparent with respect to arms sales. Having encouraged others to become equally transparent, one of our goals in the work program will be to try to expand the transparency covering arms. We have taken the first step, but we would like to expand that.'
Question: 'The weapons categories in the initial elements do not include ground-to-air missiles. Why is that? Some suggested that it was because of the Patriots, but I don't know.'

Davis: 'You will notice one of the key principles of this regime - and an important one that the United States has supported from the start - is that this regime is built on consensus. It is a regime that moves ahead by a sense of common purpose and as such requires that all 33 countries agree on the steps ahead. Our goal to make arms transparency very broad was resisted. As I've said before, and you have suggested, it was resistance on the part of other countries to including ground-to-air missiles that led to their exclusion. We will continue to press for their inclusion.'
Question: 'Can one consider that the dual-use list was set up on the basis of the COCOM [Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Exports] list or is that wrong?'

Davis: 'We all began with our own national lists which had been derived from the experiences that had occurred during the COCOM times. But as the world changed and as each country began to liberalize, these began to evolve. One of the steps we took was, in light of those changes, to put together a new list. They were derived from those earlier national lists, but now it's the list that is associated with this Arrangement and is revised consistent with how the world has changed.

What we tried to do in designing the list was to ensure we were controlling those items which were sensitive and needed to be controlled, while recognizing that we could take some important steps to liberalize our trade. That has been a part of the Clinton administration's policies as well. We took this as an opportunity to make sure we were all continuing to control goods that were sensitive but that we could liberalize and open up non-sensitive trade, which is also important.'

Question: 'Do I understand correctly that as far as conventional weapons are concerned, you would also have a sort of a list, not like the military list of COCOM, but an update of that list?'

Davis: 'We have a munitions list as part of the Arrangement in appendix five as well as the list in appendix three of the Initial Elements which calls for transparency with respect to certain kinds of armaments. We still control munitions within the framework. But these are national controls, remember. This is what countries do because they are each sovereign and they each have their own controls. What we try to do is come together and coordinate, to the extent we can, to meet the kinds of threats we see in the world today.'

Question: 'Do I understand that in this annex on the conventional weapons you would like to have it not in this form but in the form of an expanded list?'

Davis: 'We would like to expand that list because it was designed in the late 1960s at a time in which both the character of weapons and the nature of warfare were very different from today. The kinds of technologies that go into warfare have changed.

We would wish to see that transparency cover the kinds of weaponry that are essential to modern warfare. That is why we have pushed for expansion of this annex. We would like to expand the definition of what should be covered to include more sophisticated kinds of weaponry than the current list entails. ...'"

Source: United States Information Agency, 13 December.

© 1999 The Acronym Institute.

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