ITAR and Printed Circuit Boards (Part 1).

ITAR is an acronym for the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. The purpose of ITAR is to safeguard and control the export and import of defense related information and technology related to and that appear on the United States Munitions List (USML). ITAR is a set of regulations that came into being in order to implement provisions of the Arms Export Control Act of 1976 (AECA). The United States Department of State Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) interprets and enforces ITAR. The mission statement of the DDTC is as follows…

The U.S. Government views the sale, export, and re-transfer of defense articles and defense services as an integral part of safeguarding U.S. national security and furthering U.S. foreign policy objectives. The Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), in accordance with 22 U.S.C. 2778-2780 of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) (22 CFR Parts 120-130), is charged with controlling the export and temporary import of defense articles and defense services covered by the United States Munitions List (USML).

The USML in its entirety may be found here. The list is segregated into 21 categories. Most categories cover specific technologies, equipment or applications. The important classification that you need to be aware of is category 21 titled “Miscellaneous Articles”. The category reads as follows…

(a) Any article not specifically enumerated in the other categories of the U.S. Munitions List which has substantial military applicability and which has been specifically designed, developed, configured, adapted, or modified for military purposes. The decision on whether any article may be included in this category shall be made by the Director, Office of Defense Trade Controls Policy.

(b) Technical data (as defined in §120.10 of this subchapter) and defense services (as defined in §120.9 of this subchapter) directly related to the defense articles enumerated in paragraph (a) of this category.

Essentially this means that any item used specifically by the US military either by design intent or as a dual purpose design for both commercial and military applications may be considered as being ITAR restricted. The item is even considered as being ITAR restricted if it is used as a component in an item that is ITAR restricted.

What do we mean by ITAR restricted?

Any item determined to be on the USML, an item designed specifically for use by the US military or is a commercially designed item used by the military either specifically as an item or as part of a whole item is regulated by ITAR. Once an item is deemed regulated under ITAR the import and export of the item and the technical data for that item is controlled and monitored by the DDTC.

  1. A digital camera designed by a company to be sold in the commercial market would not be considered ITAR restricted.
  2. A digital camera designed by a company to be sold to the military would be considered ITAR restricted.
  3. A digital camera designed by a company for commercial applications and later bought by the US military would be considered ITAR restricted after being purchased by the US military.
  4. A digital camera designed by a company for the military but later sold commercially would still be considered ITAR restricted.
  5. A digital camera designed by a company for commercial applications but is later incorporated into an assembly for military applications would be considered ITAR restricted.

How do I know if my item is not ITAR restricted?

Commercial items are not considered ITAR restricted. They may be restricted by EAR, but that’s a blog topic for another day. If your item falls under examples 2, 3, 4 or 5 listed above then the item is considered ITAR restricted by default. The originator of the item cannot arbitrarily say that their item is not ITAR restricted if it is covered under the USML or used in any military application whatsoever. That is not their call to make. The regulation does not give them the authority to do that. The decision on whether an item is not covered or not by ITAR per section 21 of the USML rests with the Director of the Office of Defense Trade Control Policy of the DDTC. The threshold is the item is ITAR restricted unless the DDTC says its not. Verification of ITAR restriction by the DDTC Office of Defense Trade Control Policy is either a phone call or email away. If you are not sure then ask.

What’s the worst thing that can happen?

Fines ranging between $50,000 to $100,000 and jail time are the penalties.

Is the DDTC serious about enforcement?

Absolutely! This is serious business and the people at the DDTC take their responsibilities very seriously.

Records of convictions may be found here.

Records of consent (penalty) agreements may be found here.

Records of on going cases may be found here.

What does ITAR have to do with Printed Circuit Boards?

A lot. Practically everything has a circuit board in it.

In my next post I’ll write about ITAR compliance and how it applies to printed circuit boards.

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