Select Committee on Defence Seventh Report


87. In June 2000 the EU Council agreed a Joint Action on the control of technical assistance for WMD programmes.[143] The existing proposals meet the UKs obligations.[144] The Joint Action also obliged member States to consider applying such controls to conventional military end-uses. Cm 5091 therefore consults on the introduction of control of technical assistance to conventional military end-uses in any embargoed destination, including those subject to a national embargo.[145] Some UN and EU embargoes already provide for controls covering technical assistance; some apparently do not. As we have noted in the past, there are a range of embargoes, interpreted differently by different Member States.

88. Some concern was expressed in evidence from the DMA that the Government was contemplating the introduction of something equivalent to the US-style Technical Assistance Agreements (TAAs).[146] These seek to restrain the passage of information to foreign nationals, even if employed by the company concerned, and present problems for UK companies.

89. Cm 5091 also raises the possibility of controls on technical assistance preventing companies from meeting contractual obligations entered into before the embargo was imposed.[147] The introduction of controls means that a licence would be required for technical assistance, not that it would be refused. For example, the UK is reported to have continued to supply equipment to China for which there was a contract in force after the 1989 EU embargo. Technical assistance is no different. We were indeed surprised to learn that such assistance to embargoed countries is not already licensable. The DMA told us that technical assistance was often part of a package requiring licensing and that they were uncertain as to the significance of the proposal. [148] We recommend a clearer exposition in response to this Report of the current situation on technical assistance controls, so that the House will be in a better situation to assess the proposals now being made.

143  2000/401/CFSP Back

144  Para 45 Back

145  Paras 46-8 Back

146   Qq73-4 Back

147  Para 47 Back

148   Q 79 Back

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