RealNews

House panel rips plan to relax arms-export rules

A congressional committee will release a report Friday offering stinging criticism of a Bush administration effort to relax controls on weapons exports to two close U.S. allies, citing concerns that armaments might be diverted to terrorist groups. The administration negotiated agreements more than a year ago to drop a licensing requirement for sales of non-classified weapons and military technology to companies in Britain and Australia. But Congress must first change a law that requires the export licenses. The proposed changes cover exports of such equipment as military explosives, large-caliber automatic weapons, mortars, flame-throwers, operational flight simulators, and some battlefield-gun and missile-fire control systems. There would be no relaxation in controls over biological, chemical or nuclear weapons, or for weapons systems classified secret. The strong and public opposition by the House International Relations Committee, which has jurisdiction over export controls, suggests the administration will have difficulty winning congressional approval. Full Story

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