Authority of the President to Restrict Munitions Imports Under the Arms Export Control Act: Memorandum Opinion for the Special Assistant to the President and Legal Advisor to the National Security Council [February 9, 1996]   [open pdf - 22KB]

"This letter addresses and explains the basis for the oral advice that we provided in early April 1995 regarding the President's authority under the Arms Export Control Act, 22 U.S.C. §§ 2751-2799aa-2, ('AECA') to restrict the import of certain munitions from the Russian Federation in furtherance of United States foreign policy. The question arises in connection with the Administration's plan, as part of a general program of eliminating Cold War restrictions on trade and economic cooperation with Russia, to take steps to remove Russia from the International Traffic in Arms Regulations ('ITAR') list, which provides that it is the policy of the United States to deny licenses for the import of defense articles originating in certain countries, including Russia. […] Russia's presence on the ITAR list means American businesses are not granted licenses necessary to import Russian munitions. Once Russia is off the ITAR list, there would be no general prohibition on gun imports from Russia. We understand that the issue concerns the negotiation of voluntary export restraints with Russia to ensure that, once Russia is removed from the ITAR list, munitions imports from Russia would not jeopardize public safety. The question has been raised whether the President possesses authority under the AECA to limit the import of munitions from Russia. We have concluded that restricting the import of Russian munitions to certain classes of firearms and ammunition is a legitimate use of the President's authority under the AECA to restrict the import of munitions in furtherance of United States foreign policy."

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