Around town …

Over at the Export Law Blog, Clif Burns pens on a speech by Commerce Secretary Gary Locke on export control reforms.   While it made a whole lot of sense in the mid 1990s to reform the old export control system – Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls – I still think the current system is pretty darn good.  And while it needs some updating to keep up with new technologies, increase transparency, and make it more efficient to keep the engines of commerce moving, massive structural reform seems like overkill, likely to lead to more regulations and uncertainty.  Like prior administrations, the export reform talisman is making itself felt.  Like Clif Burns suggests, let’s start with the “plastic handcuffs” and the “horses by sea.”

Meanwhile over at the Divest Terror Initiative, Christopher Holton discusses how “America has never had a “tough” policy toward the Islamic Republic of Iran.”  The same would hold on another state sponsor of terrorism, Cuba.  Also at the DTI blog, Sarah Steelman outlines how taxpayer stimulus monies have been given to foreign companies that engage in commercial relations with state sponsors of terrorism. She singles out Siemens:  “Siemens AG has long been listed on as one the “Dirty Dozen” international companies who do business with terrorist-sponsoring governments. Divest Terror points out that Siemens has extensive contracts with the government of Iran involving advanced technology and equipment, which may be easily diverted to terrorist activities jeopardizing American lives.”

At another divestment website, the Western Sahara Resource Watch pens how a “small Irish oil company San Leon Energy has been seeking capital to carry out oil exploration in occupied Western Sahara in collaboration with Moroccan authorities. Now they have obtained Norwegian assistance.” According to WSRW, almost all the blocks that San Leon has obtained from Moroccan authorities lie in occupied Western Sahara. This becomes apparent from maps that the Moroccan state oil company ONHYM has published. I will not attend the United Nations session this year on the Western Sahara, but I am advised that the divestment folks will be there in full force.

Over at the Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security, a few export control violations worth noting including the unauthorized export of optical shooting devices to Zambia,  shotguns to Chile and Canada,  missile technology to Malaysia and Indonesia, and explosive detection systems to South Korea.

The DDTC published guidance on the practice of authorizing “the employment of a foreign person by a U.S. person on a DSP-5 through an exception to the requirement for a technical assistance agreement (TAA) in accordance with 22 CFR 124.1(a).”  Can you say all that in one breath?  Anyhow, “after close review, DDTC has determined this “double” licensing to be redundant. Therefore, all requests for the licensing of a foreign person employed by a U.S. person must be made through the use of a DSP-5 to cover all levels of requested technical data and defense services.”  Is it clear now?

Finally, over at the Office of Foreign Assets Control, new civil penalties were published, both involving Iran.  The one that caught my attention was Gold & Silver Reserve (GSR), a Delaware corporation.  According to the company website, GSR issues “e-gold”  – an electronic currency – 100% backed at all times by gold bullion in allocated storage.  They tout that it is the “world’s first truly global payment option.”  I guess the Iran sanctions were an oversight?  GSR was assessed $2.9 million for violating the transaction regulations by activating 56,739 “e currency” accounts through its websites for people in Iran.

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