Last week, in violation of  United Nations sanctions against North Korea, Panamanian Customs officials detained the North Korean flagged vessel Chong Con Gang en route from Cuba to North Korea carrying what the Cubans called “obsolete defense weapons”.

Photo credit: The Times of Asia

The North Korean crew did everything in their power short of scuttling the ship to make it difficult for Panamanian Customs to locate, unload and examine the cache of weapons which includes a few disassembled Russian-made MIG fighter jets. The Captain even attempted suicide as the vessel was being boarded.

The relevant piece (aside from the part that governments do catch and enforce embargoes through a variety of different means) is that trade in all matter of articles, including defense, are regulated by multiple government entities.

In the United States, exports are regulated and policed by a variety of entities, including Customs and Border Protection, the Census Department and the Bureau of Export Administration (BXA). There are licensing requirements with State and Defense as well. Chief among the things that must be taken into account is the State Department’s  ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations), a set of US government regulations that control import and export of items on the United States Munitions List.

A host of considerations need to be taken into account by a US exporter, including an awareness of their end user, whether or not the product or technology exported is considered “dual-use” (for both civilian and military application) and how it is properly classified and does it need permission to be exported.

If your company is looking to increase business through exporting new products or to new markets and your goods may fall under the jurisdiction of one of these entities, contact us to help you develop a compliance plan and process to insure these sales meet the regulations imposed by US law.