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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 23, February 1998

High Performance Computers: US Commerce Department Regulations

'Commerce Implements National Defense Authorization Act Provisions on High Performance Computers,' US Department of Commerce Bureau of Export Administration (BXA) Press Release, 2 February 1998

Full text

"The Department of Commerce will publish a rule implementing the provisions of the FY 1998 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which require notification of exports and re-exports of high performance computers (HPCs) and post-shipment verifications of certain of those exports and re-exports. The rule includes a savings clause, allowing the completion of certain shipments already in transit, in compliance with existing regulations, without submitting a notice.

Under the new law, advance notification is required of all exports and re-exports of computers with computing speeds between 2,000 and 7,000 million theoretical operations per second (MTOPS) to Computer Tier 3 countries. Previously, such computers were eligible for export or re-export to civil end-users under License Exception CTP (composite theoretical performance) without prior notice to the US Government. For CTP-eligible transactions destined to Tier 3 countries, this rule adds the NDAA notification requirement to the terms and conditions of License Exception CTP. Exports and re-exports of computers with CTPs greater than 7,000 MTOPS to Tier 3 countries continue to require a license.

Exporters and re-exporters will be required to submit notices to the Department's Bureau of Export Administration (BXA). BXA will refer all notices to the Departments of Defense, Energy, State, and the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency within 24 hours of the date of registration of the complete request. BXA will adjust its voice information system electronic filing system, STELA, by 17 February, so that exporters will be able to obtain results of the 10-day review through that system. After that time, if no agencies raise objections within a 10-day period, STELA will confirm that the exporter or re-exporter may proceed with the transaction without obtaining a license. If an objection is made to the export, the notification will be converted to a license application, and the system will advise the exporter or re-exporter that a license is required. BXA will issue subsequent written confirmation.

The legislation also requires the Department of Commerce to perform post-shipment verifications on all exports of HPCs more than 2,000 MTOPS to Tier 3 countries. To assist BXA in conducting end-user post-shipment verifications, each exporter must provide a written report with specific end-user information to BXA within 30 days of export to any Tier 3 country. This information must be accurate as of the date of the report. When a license is required, BXA will review applications in consultation with other agencies and will impose appropriate safeguards as license conditions. The regulations also harmonize computer export reporting requirements to those required under the Wassenaar Arrangement. The notification requirement will provide data for exports to Tier 3 countries from 2,000 - 4,000 MTOPS, and Wassenaar reporting requirements will cover exports of machines more than 4,000 MTOPS.

The countries that are included in Tier 3 are Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cambodia, China (People's Republic of), Comoros, Croatia, Djibouti, Egypt, Estonia, Georgia, India, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Macedonia (The Former Yugoslav Republic of), Mauritania, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia & Montenegro, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vietnam, and Yemen.

The new regulation is effective on 3 February, and comments on this rule must be received on or before 20 March, 1998."

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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