Government agencies, as interim steps toward creating the single unified list, have worked their way through the 21 categories of the U.S. Munitions List administered by the State Department to see what items can be moved to the Commerce Department’s Commercial List, Hursch said.
“We’ll see what happens in November and what the victors of that election want to do to move forward on that,” Hursch said.
Beth McCormick, deputy assistant secretary for defense trade and regional security, said she hoped the reforms would continue whether President Barack Obama is reelected on November 6 or Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
“Regardless of what happens in November, we should continue this work and bring it closure,” McCormick said.
The Obama administration has already put proposed revisions to nine categories of the munitions lists out for public comment and faces some hard decisions moving ahead.
“There are some categories that by their basic nature are very, very difficult,” including one that encompasses both night-vision technology and fire control, she said.
In deciding what items to move to the commercial list, “we obviously have to think about the type of technology that we use on the battlefield, where obviously the control of the night has been something that’s been very, very important to us,” McCormick said.
Kevin Wolf, assistant secretary of Commerce for export administration, said moving an item from the munitions list to the commercial list did not mean it was “decontrolled.”
It does give the U.S. government more flexibility in allowing exports to close allies, while maintaining a strict arms embargo on other countries such as China, he said.
(Reporting By Doug Palmer; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)