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Statement on Signing the Anti-Terrorism and Arms Export Amendments Act of 1989

December 12, 1989

Today I am signing H.R. 91, the "Anti-Terrorism and Arms Export Amendments Act of 1989."

In signing this bill, I wish to reemphasize this Nation's strong determination to oppose international terrorists and the states that support them. Curbing state support to terrorists is essential in reducing the menace of international terrorism.

I am aware that, insofar as the new section 40 of the Arms Export Control Act applies to activities by U.S. persons (including subsidiaries of U.S. firms) in foreign countries, it has thus raised concerns among our Allies regarding the extraterritorial application of U.S. law. Moreover, section 40 makes it clear that all of the prohibitions dealing with foreign subsidiaries and munitions items are applicable to the extent specified in implementing regulations of the Department of State. I consequently direct the Secretary of State to ensure that the appropriate implementing amendments to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) are consistent with applicable international law regarding the extraterritorial effect of U.S. law.

Two provisions of the bill warrant careful construction in order to avoid constitutional difficulties. The new section 40(a)(5) prohibits the United States Government from "facilitating the acquisition of any munitions item" by a country designated by the Secretary of State under section 40(d). The new section 40(b)(1)(D) contains a parallel prohibition on actions by any U.S. person to facilitate such an acquisition. I shall interpret these provisions as placing no limit on our negotiations and communications with foreign governments. This interpretation is supported by the House Committee Report and the colloquy on the floor of the House clarifying that these provisions are not intended to circumscribe my constitutional authority to articulate foreign policy or to discuss with foreign countries arms transfers that they may wish to make.

George Bush

The White House,

December 12, 1989.

Note: H.R. 91, approved December 12, was assigned Public Law No. 101 - 222.

George Bush, Statement on Signing the Anti-Terrorism and Arms Export Amendments Act of 1989 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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