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Clinton Administration Seeks International Curbs on Arms Exports

July 18, 1994

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Clinton administration will be fighting in Congress this week for a law to set up international control of arms exports and other goods usable for military purposes, Commerce Undersecretary William Reinsch said Monday.

″Our role of leadership is one that is best exercised by bringing everybody along,″ he said.

The United States and its allies have given up as a Cold War relic a system designed over 40 years ago to keep militarily useful machines and materials out of Russian and Chinese hands.

The semi-secret COCOM - Coordinating Committee on Multilateral Export Controls - had its headquarters in Paris. In recent years it had been much concerned with advanced computers and communications equipment.

Now the question arises of what should take COCOM’s place, to prevent dangerous materials reaching countries such as Iraq, Iran, North Korea and Libya, which other governments mistrust.

Reinsch said the Clinton administration has many objections to bills the House of Representatives will take up Wednesday. It especially frowns on one approved by the Armed Services Committee that would give the Pentagon extensive power over U.S. exports.

Reinsch heads the office in the Department of Commerce that deals with U.S. controls. He told a meeting of the Washington International Trade Association that the United States cannot do the controlling by itself.

″The Cold War, ominous as it was, had the beauty of simplicity,″ he said.

″We knew who the bad guys were and over 40 years we developed a pretty good way of finding out what they were doing and how to deal with it. Now we have multiple areas of concern in different parts of the world, pursuing different policies ... . We haven’t had 40 years to figure out what makes them tick and ... how to deal with them.″

Frank Gaffney, who dealt with exports in the Pentagon under former President Bush, objected that the Clinton administration wants Russia and China to be in the new organization

″The former Soviet Union is still very much in the business of diverting strategic technologies to military purposes,″ he said.

China, he added, is an even greater problem.

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