Arms Transfer Policies and Treaties

Forum hall in Geneva, Switzerland

United States Conventional Arms Transfer (CAT) Policy

DTSA is the Office of Primary Responsibility within DoD for the U.S. Conventional Arms Transfer (CAT) Policy. In 2013, the President approved a comprehensive policy to govern the transfer of conventional arms based on two fundamental tenets: to support transfers that meet the legitimate security requirements of our allies and partners in support of our national security and foreign policy interests; and to promote restraint, both by the United States and other suppliers, in transfers of weapon systems that may be destabilizing or dangerous to international peace and security.

The new policy improved the clarity of U.S. goals for arms transfers and the criteria used in making arms transfer decisions in support of those goals. It highlights the value the United States places on human rights and international stability, our focus on homeland security priorities, counter-terrorism, combating transnational organized crime, and support for nonproliferation, and it broadened the scope of the policy to include not only arms, but the provision of services and the transfer of technical data related to arms.

During the review of the previous policy and its update, DTSA coordinated all of the relevant issues with the Joint Staff, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the Office of the Undersecretary for Acquisition, Transportation and Logistics and the appropriate offices with the Office of the Undersecretary for Policy. Key players in the Interagency who contributed to the final policy included the Departments of State, Homeland Security, Justice, and the National Security Staff.

Arms Trade Treaty (ATT)

DTSA is the office of primary responsibility within DoD for the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).

The ATT establishes a common international standard for the national regulation of the international trade in conventional arms. The Treaty can help improve both U.S. national security and global security by reducing the risk that international transfers of conventional arms will be used to carry out the world’s worst crimes, including genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

In particular, countries that are party to the Treaty are required to establish national export and import controls for tanks, combat vehicles and aircraft, warships, missile and artillery systems, small arms and light weapons. This will require States Parties to establish export and import control systems closer to the high standard the United States already sets with its own national system. Joining the ATT would not result in any additional U.S. export or import controls.

Defense Trade Cooperation Treaties (DTCT) with Australia and the United Kingdom

The DTCTs provide a comprehensive framework for exports and transfers to Australia or the U.K. of classified and unclassified defense articles without a license or other written authorization. DTSA has primary responsibility within the Department for establishing requirements for the proper marking, transfer and control of classified information shared with Approved Community members and Intermediate Consignees established under the Treaties and for reviewing and updating the Exempted Technologies Lists. The Office of Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L) has primary responsibility within DoD for DTCT issues.

DTSA works closely with the Services, AT&L, the Department of State, and the Australian and U.K. governments in identifying technologies that can be shared with our Allies, under the auspices of the DTCT, to further our close defense cooperation.