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Fact Sheet
Bureau of Nonproliferation
Washington, DC
August 31, 2001

Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies

The Wassenaar Arrangement (WA) is the first multilateral institution covering both conventional weapons and sensitive dual-use goods and technologies. The WA received final approval by 33 co-founding countries in July 1996, and began operations in September 1996.

The WA is designed to prevent destabilizing accumulations of arms and dual-use goods and technologies. The Arrangement encourages transparency, consultation and, where appropriate, national policies of restraint. In doing so, the WA fosters greater responsibility and accountability in transfers of arms and dual use goods and technologies. The Arrangement also provides a venue in which governments can consider collectively the implications of various transfers on their international and regional security interests. This is the principal security benefit of membership.

WA members maintain export controls on the WA Munitions and Dual-Use lists. These lists regularly are reviewed by experts of the Participating States and revised as needed. However, the decision to transfer or deny any controlled item remains the responsibility of individual member states. To facilitate meeting the WA's principal objective of preventing destabilizing accumulations, members report on their decisions to transfer or deny to non-members certain classes of weapons and dual-use technologies.

In order to enhance transparency in arms transfers, Wassenaar members report semiannually on deliveries to nonmembers of weapons in categories derived from the UN Register of Conventional Arms.

In order to promote transparency and like-mindedness, Wassenaar members also report on their transfers to nonmembers of dual-use goods. The Wassenaar Dual-Use List comprises a Basic List of controlled technology, on which members semiannually report aggregated license denials. The Basic List is subdivided into a Sensitive List of technologies on which members report individual denials of licenses within 30-60 days. In addition to these individual denials, members also report semiannually aggregated numbers of licenses issued or transfers made. Finally, the Sensitive List is further subdivided into a Very Sensitive List, consisting of technology subject to extreme vigilance in national licensing decisions.

Although no country is an explicit target of the WA, members are committed to dealing firmly with states whose behavior is a cause for serious concern. There is broad agreement that these states presently are Iran, Iraq, Libya and North Korea. Wassenaar members deal with these "countries of concern" by preventing, through shared national policies of restraint, their acquisition of armaments and sensitive dual use goods and technologies for military end-use.

Wassenaar also provides a forum for discussing security and conventional weapons nonproliferation issues that do not fall within one of the other, more established nonproliferation regimes. Among other topics, Wassenaar has addressed Sudan, North Korea's weapons production programs, Iran's conventional arms procurement objectives, arms flows to areas of conflict in Africa, and the situation in Kosovo. At the December 1996 Plenary meeting, members issued a public statement confirming that they do not transfer arms or ammunition to Afghanistan. In 1997, they indicated that they would exercise maximum restraint regarding arms transfers to Central Africa. At the 1999 Plenary meeting, members agreed to increase their reporting of conventional weapons.

At the December 2000 Plenary, the Participating States agreed to adopt U.S.-proposed export control guidelines, including strict end-user safeguards to prevent unauthorized access, and the use of national means to control the export of MANPADS. This marked the first time the WA agreed to harmonized export controls on any class of weapons. The 2000 Plenary also adopted "best practices" papers in the following areas: Disposal of Surplus/Demilitarized Military Equipment, Extreme Vigilance for Items on the WA Very Sensitive List, and Effective Export Control Enforcement. The U.S. continued to push for increased arms transparency in the Wassenaar, including the addition of a Small Arms/Light Weapons reporting category. Despite near-consensus, the proposal to expand arms transparency further was not approved in 2000.

WA meetings are held in Vienna, where the Arrangement has established a small secretariat. Plenary meetings are held at least once a year. The Plenary has established a General Working Group, an Expert Group, and a Licensing and Enforcement Officers subgroup, which meet periodically.

The 33 Wassenaar Arrangement members are:

Czech Republic
New Zealand
Republic of Korea
United Kingdom
United States

Wassenaar Arrangement Reporting Requirements


Semiannual reporting on deliveries to non-members of conventional weapons in the following categories:

  • Battle Tanks
  • Armored Combat Vehicles
  • Large Calibre Artillery Systems
  • Military Aircraft/Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
  • Military and Attack Helicopters
  • Warships
  • Missiles or Missile Systems

Dual-Use Goods and Technology

Tier One: Basic List of Dual-Use Goods and Technologies

  • Notification of Aggregated License Denials, Semiannually

Tier Two: Sensitive List

  • Notification of Individual License Denials, Within 30-60 Days
  • Also Semiannual Notification of Aggregated Licenses Issued or Transfers Made

Subset of Tier Two: Very Sensitive List

  • Transfer Decisions Subject To Extreme Vigilance by
  • Exporting Government Reporting Requirements Same as Tier Two

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