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The US State Department cuts arms licenses to Great Britain and Australia to promote AUKUS

The US State Department cuts arms licenses to Great Britain and Australia to promote AUKUS

The US State Department has unveiled its plan to reduce approval requirements for transfers of military equipment and sensitive technology to Australia and Great Britain under the AUKUS safeguards program.

AUKUS was launched in 2021 to address shared concerns about China's rising power. As part of defense cooperation, Australia will, among other things, purchase nuclear-powered attack submarines. However, the transfer of closely guarded technology is subject to strict US International Trade in Arms Regulations (ITAR).

The Department of Defense's Directorate of Trade Controls (DDTC) will no longer be required to issue licenses or approvals for defense products, under a rule change proposed by the US State Department on Tuesday, reducing administrative burdens for companies seeking to manufacture defense products in Australia. The United Kingdom will decline.

“This waiver is intended to enhance defense trade and cooperation between the United States and two of its closest allies,” the State Department said in its release in the Federal Register.

The State Department said the new rule would still create a list of “excluded” items, so items critical to national security would require approval. A list of authorized users will also be created to ensure sensitive technologies are under lock and key.

The State Department opposes blanket exemptions for Britain and Australia proposed by the Pentagon 25 years ago, said Jeff Bialos, a former senior defense official who is now a partner at the law firm Eversheds Sutherland. There was an office.

The US Commerce Department announced earlier this month that it is easing export control requirements for Australia and the United Kingdom. The Commerce Department is only responsible for licensing certain defense-related items, not the broader range of items covered under the ITAR regime, which is administered by the State Department's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.

Public comment on the rule begins on May 1 and ends on May 31. (Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington, additional reporting by David Brunstrom; Editing by Philippa Fletcher)