ACCESSION NUMBER:320430 FILE ID:ECO106 DATE:01/10/94 TITLE:U.S. STILL SEEKS TO RESTRICT HIGH-TECH TELECOM EXPORTS (01/10/94) TEXT:*94011006.ECO ECTELLD EXP CONTROLS /te U.S. STILL SEEKS TO RESTRICT HIGH-TECH TELECOM EXPORTS (Foreign-availability finding requires negotiations) (580) By Bruce Odessey USIA Staff Writer Washington -- While determining that high-speed telephone equipment made outside the United States is available on the world market, the Clinton administration still seeks to preserve multilateral export controls on it. Under U.S. law, however, unless the United States can persuade other manufacturing countries before May 9 to control the exports as well, it must unilaterally eliminate the U.S. controls, a Commerce Department official said January 10. The Commerce foreign-availability determination has no immediate effect. At issue is synchronous digital hierarchy telecommunications transmission equipment operating at up to 623 million bits per second, capable of handling about 8,000 calls simultaneously. The United States and its allies in the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (COCOM) still control exports of this transmission equipment even though they decided to allow exports of fiber-optic cable capable of carrying 30,000 simultaneous calls. In other words, they still restrict exports of the transmission equipment necessary to make good use of the cable. American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) seeks to sell such equipment to China, Russia and similarly proscribed countries in Eastern Europe. In August it asked Commerce to determine whether the equipment was available outside COCOM and whether the United States should therefore lift its controls. The department announced January 10 that it had found foreign availability of the advanced transmission equipment but, following usual practice, did not reveal where. AT&T had complained that COCOM non-member Israel was already delivering such equipment to China. The Commerce official, who asked not to be identified, said the administration still seeks multilateral controls on exports of the equipment to protect U.S. national security. U.S. intelligence agencies have complained that use of high-tech fiber-optic cable would interfere with their ability to eavesdrop. The official indicated the United States will seek to negotiate over the next four months with its allies -- presumably including Israel and other non-COCOM potential suppliers -- for some export-control agreement. Without such an agreement, he said, U.S. law requires unilateral U.S. decontrol. Complicating the handling of this issue is the imminent demise of COCOM. Comprising Australia, Japan and the NATO countries except Iceland, the Cold War-era group has decided to go out of business March 31. 1he members, now negotiating a COCOM successor regime, are still far from agreeing about which high-technology exports and which destinations should be restricted, the Commerce official said. According to the Commerce Department, the world market for this advanced transmission equipment is expected to increase from about $500 million a year now to about $1,000 million in 1996. U.S. exports of the equipment are already allowed to other COCOM countries and certain other destinations without an export license since Commerce Secretary Ron Brown eliminated restrictions on sales to those countries in October. Even if the United States eliminated national-security controls in May, it could still control the exports for foreign-policy reasons to certain destinations such as Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, North Korea, Vietnam and Cuba. AT&T issued a statement saying it was pleased with the Commerce Department finding. "This finding will lead to the removal of export controls on this equipment, resulting in increased equipment sales by U.S. companies in Eastern Europe, China and the former Soviet Union," the statement said. NNNN .