Israel to Ease Restrictions on Military Weapons Exports

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The Defense Ministry is increasing the number of countries for which arms exporters will not be required to receive a special license for marketing nonclassified weaponry and defense equipment.

Until recently, there were 39 countries for which Israeli arms exporters were exempted from having a license from the Defense Export Control Agency to sell weapons, security equipment systems or defense-related information that was defined as not classified. The recent decision by the Defense Ministry and its director general, Maj. Gen. (res.) Dan Harel, significantly increases the number of countries for which no DECA license is required.

Ministry officials did not say which countries are on the list of those exempt from the requirement, and explained that the purpose of the decision is to increase and encourage security exports from the State of Israel.

“It is not our intention to loosen supervision or change the parameters according to which we make it easier to export,” Harel said. “We will promote the taking of larger controlled risks to open new global export markets, and we will streamline our methods. We have already begun the change in giving marketing and export licenses for new markets, and there are even some industry successes.”

The annual DECA conference took place Tuesday in the Avenue Conference Center at Airport City, near Tel Aviv. Defense Ministry officials did not allow journalists to attend. Instead, they issued a press release at the end of the conference.

Harel and Beth M. McCormick (head of the Defense Technology Security Administration at the U.S. Department of Defense) took part in the conference, which was also attended by hundreds of defense industry exporters.

Defense Ministry officials presented statistics related to DECA’s work, noting that, in 2013, the agency received more than 27,000 new applications for marketing licenses for 190 countries. More than half the applications were requests for licenses to market equipment that is considered not classified.

A marketing license is the first step in security exports. To obtain one, the company or private individual who wishes to sell arms or defense equipment to clients abroad lists the item to be exported, together with all the countries to which the company or individual believes they can export to in the future. Once the defense deal has been signed, the exporter must obtain an additional license – a license to export – before supplying the arms or defense equipment.

During 2013 there was an increase in the number of suspected violations of the Defense Export Control Law. Defense Ministry officials said there were 172 cases of suspected violation of the law – the highest number of cases in recent years.

DECA officials fined two large defense industry companies that engaged in illegal marketing activity, and fined security exporters more than NIS 4 million – the highest amount since the agency was established.

During the conference, DECA head Col. (res.) Dubi Lavi said that Defense Ministry officials would hold more frequent inspections of defense industry companies. “We will look into ways to make the inspections and enforcement more effective,” he said, “so we can be sure that the products leaving Israel meet the conditions and restrictions of the marketing and export license, and to meet one major goal: to protect the security interests of the State of Israel.”

An Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron (Machatz-1) drone is pictured at the Singapore Airshow, February 14, 2012.Credit: Reuters

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