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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 28, July 1998

US Executive Order on Proliferation

Statement by the President

'Statement by the President: Expanding the President's Executive Order on Weapons of Mass Destruction,' The White House Office of the Press Secretary, 28 July 1998

Full text

"Today, I am expanding existing Executive Order authority to enhance America's ability to deal with one of the toughest security challenges we face: the spread of weapons of mass destruction and missiles to deliver such weapons.

Two weeks ago, the Russian government announced it was investigating a number of Russian entities suspected of violating weapons of mass destruction export control provisions.

Today's Executive Order amendment will allow us to respond more effectively to evidence that foreign entities around the world, such as these Russian entities, have assisted in the transfer of dangerous weapons and weapons technologies. The United States will use the amended Executive Order, along with other existing authorities, to bar assistance to seven of the entities identified by Russia, as well as to bar exports to and imports from these entities [Editor's note: the entities are - the INOR scientific centre; the Grafit research institute; the Plyus research institute; Glavkosmos; MOSO; the Baltic State Technical University; Europalace 2000]. The new Executive Order amends Executive Order 12928, issued in 1994, in key respects;

  • The amended E.O. addresses not only transfers of chemical and biological weapons, as provided in the original E.O., but also nuclear weapons and missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction;
  • The amended E.O. imposes penalties not only where a transfer has been carried out, as provided in the original E.O., but also in the event of an attempt to transfer;
  • The amended E.O. expressly expands the range of potential penalties on entities that have contributed to proliferation. Penalties include prohibition of US Government assistance to the entity and prohibition of imports into the US, or US Government procurement, of goods, technology, and services.

The amended E.O. ensures that our Government has the necessary flexibility in deciding when and to what extent to impose penalties. In the fight to stem the spread of dangerous weaponry, we must be resourceful and focus on doing what works. Being able to offer both incentives and disincentives enhances our capacity to deal with these threats. I will continue to work with Congress to ensure that America's policy provides tough penalties - and also sufficient flexibility to give us the best chance to achieve positive results.

My Administration is working actively with our friends and allies around the world to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We are encouraged by recent commitments by Russia, by our European allies, and others to increase their efforts, and we will continue to press for even stronger commitments."

Message to Congress

'To the Congress of the United States,' The White House Office of the Press Secretary, 28 July 1998

"… The amendment of section 4 of Executive Order 12938 strengthens the original Executive order in several significant ways.

First, the amendment broadens the type of proliferation activity that is subject to potential penalties. Executive Order 12938 covers contributions to the efforts of any foreign country, project, or entity to use, acquire, design, produce, or stockpile chemical or biological weapons [CBW]... This amendment adds potential penalties for contributions to foreign programs for nuclear weapons and missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction. For example, the new amendment authorizes the imposition of measures against foreign entities that materially assist Iran's missile program.

Second, the amendment lowers the requirements for imposing penalties. Executive Order 12938 required a finding that a foreign person 'knowingly and materially' contributed to a foreign [CBW] program. The amendment removes the 'knowing' requirement as a basis for determining potential penalties. Therefore, the Secretary of State need only determine that the foreign person made a 'material' contribution to a weapons of mass destruction or missile program to apply the specified sanctions. At the same time, the Secretary of State will have discretion regarding the scope of sanctions so that a truly unwitting party will not be unfairly punished.

Third, the amendment expands the original Executive order to include 'attempts' to contribute to foreign proliferation activities, as well as actual contributions. This will allow imposition of penalties even in cases where foreign persons make an unsuccessful effort to contribute to weapons of mass destruction and missile programs or where authorities block a transaction before it is consummated.

Fourth, the amendment expressly expands the range of potential penalties to include the prohibition of United States Government assistance to the foreign person, as well as United States Government procurement and imports into the United States, which were specified by the original Executive order. Moreover, section 4(b) broadens the scope of the United States Government procurement limitations to include a bar on the procurement of technology, as well as goods or services from any foreign person described in section 4 (a). Section 4(d) broadens the scope of import limitations to include a bar on imports of any technology or services produced or provided by any foreign person described in section 4 (a).

Finally, this amendment gives the United States Government greater flexibility and discretion in deciding how and to what extent to impose penalties against foreign persons that assist proliferation programs. This provision authorizes the Secretary of State, who will act in consultation with the heads of other interested agencies, to determine the extent to which these measures should be imposed against entities contributing to foreign weapons of mass destruction or missile programs. The Secretary of State will act to further the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States, including principally our non-proliferation objectives. Prior to imposing measures pursuant to this provision, the Secretary of State will take into account the likely effectiveness of such measures in furthering the interests of the United States and the costs and benefits of such measures. This approach provides the necessary flexibility to tailor our responses to specific situations. ..."

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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