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Saturday, January 05, 2013

National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 Signed by President Barack Obama

For the first time since in the 21st century, American companies will be permitted to sell and export communications satellites to foreign companies under the provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 signed by President Barack Obama this week.
Such satellites have been in use since the mid-sixties, but in 1999 a new law passed that defined them as weapons, forbidding their export, following American commercial satellite launch failure incident in China investigated by Congress.
President Obama and Speaker Boehner
As The New York Times reports, President Obama has signed a defense bill that reverts the ban and reclassifies communications satellites as civilian technology, in effect the first ITAR reform in over a decade. 

The provision gives the administration the ability to transfer less-sensitive satellites and satellite components from the United States Munitions List to the less restrictive Commerce Control List, allowing satellite manufactures to sell products to other approved nations. The new law still restricts the export and transfer of technology to China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.
It may take until the end of the year before the new regulations are put in place, and authorities sort out what space-based technologies will be considered “commodities,” and which will remain too sensitive to export, Patricia Cooper, president of the Satellite Industry Association told National Defense.
Cooper said the last decade saw many nations entering the space realm for the first time. More will come. “This is a really powerful signal to those new entrants into the satellite and space world that the U.S. wants to supply them and do research with them,” she added.
ITAR is not going away. Cutting edge space technologies and payloads that the nation is known for will still be restricted. Many of the components on the munitions list, however, were decades old. More from Spaceflight Now.

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-California) discusses the issue of export controls to other countries, including China.

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