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Commerce Tightens Controls to Prevent Support of Foreign Military-Intelligence and WMD Activities


Today, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) in the Department of Commerce (Commerce) imposed new controls on any U.S. technologies and specific activities of U.S. persons who may be supporting foreign military-intelligence end uses and end users in China, Cuba, Russia, and Venezuela, as well as in terrorist-supporting countries.  BIS is also enhancing controls to prevent U.S. persons from supporting unauthorized weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs, including weapons delivery systems and production facilities.

“We cannot allow the foreign military-intelligence organizations of our adversaries in China, Cuba, Russia, Venezuela, Iran, and other terrorist-supporting nations to benefit from U.S. technology or U.S. services to support their destabilizing activities,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.  “We must ensure our controls prevent U.S. persons, wherever located, from supporting unauthorized WMD activities around the globe.  Today’s important updates to the U.S. export control system achieve these two goals and enhance our national security.”

The new controls prevent U.S. persons from supporting certain foreign military-intelligence services, such as through brokering the sale of foreign-origin items or providing maintenance, repair, or overhaul services.  BIS is also expanding the license requirement for exports, reexports, and transfers (in-country) to military-intelligence end uses and end users in China, Russia, and Venezuela beyond enumerated items subject to existing military end-use and end-user (MEU) controls to apply to all items subject to the Export Administration Regulations.  These controls will also apply to terrorist-supporting and embargoed countries. 

“These new strict controls will inhibit China’s Intelligence Bureau and Russia’s GRU from leveraging U.S. technology and services to support espionage, intelligence collection and operations, and other activities contrary to U.S. national security interests,” added Ross.

Similarly, BIS is revising end-use controls related to chemical and biological weapons, rocket systems, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to ensure that any U.S. activity related to the operation, installation, maintenance, overhaul, repair, or refurbishing of such weapons, rocket systems, or UAVs triggers a catch-all license requirement, as outlined in the EAR.  BIS also is establishing a framework for informing exporters, re-exporters, and transferors of items subject to the EAR that a license is required for specific transactions intended to circumvent Entity List-based license requirements, or for specific foreign parties assisting listed entities in circumventing such license requirements.

Both of these actions, which go into effect March 16, 2021, are directed by the Export Control Reform Act of 2018. 

The foreign military-intelligence organizations impacted by today’s action are:

  • Cuba’s Directorate of Military Intelligence (DIM) and Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (CIM)
  • China’s Intelligence Bureau of the Joint Staff Department
  • Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Intelligence Organization (IRGC-IO) and Artesh Directorate for Intelligence (J2)
  • North Korea’s Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB)
  • Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU)
  • Syria’s Military Intelligence Service

Venezuela’s General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM).

Bureaus and Offices