Devilish Details; May 1994; Scientific American Magazine; by Beardsley; 2 Page(s)
Export controls on dual-use technologies--equipment and materials that have both military and civilian applications--create tension between manufacturers keen to export to as many countries as possible and proponents of arms control. Arms-control advocates, who fear the spread of weapons of mass destruction, argue that export controls are the main reason that Saddam Hussein has been unable to build a nuclear bomb and that North Korea may yet be prevented from doing so. Industrial managers argue that unilateral controls do little to stop adversaries from obtaining strategic goods, because the products are often readily available from other countries.
Efforts to settle such questions reveal that the devil lurks in the details, and he is likely to get a thorough workout in the coming months. Congress will soon be taking up the Clinton administration's bill to establish an export- control regime to replace Cocom, the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls, which lapsed at the end of March.