Chicago Journal of International Law


As the Cold War began to heat up in the aftermath of World War II, the United States and its allies determined that it would be necessary to coordinate their export of militarily significant equipment to Communist nations, particularly those nations that would eventually make up the heart of the Warsaw Pact. The NATO nations, together with Japan and Australia, created the Coordinating Committee on Export Controls ("COCOM"). For forty-five years, this body served as a clearinghouse for information exchange and consultation among the member nations. However, as the Soviet Union disintegrated and the Cold War came to a close in the early 1990s, the US-Russian relationship saw dramatic improvement. One aspect of the improved relationship took place in the export control arena. In June 1992, the White House announced the creation of an informal "cooperation forum," bringing together the COCOM nations, Russia, and other former Soviet satellites in order to provide the latter nations with access to "advanced Western goods and technology," as well as to create procedures to ensure that transferred technology was not misused. At the Vancouver summit meeting in 1993, Russian President Boris Yeltsin expressed his concern that COCOM was a "relic of the cold war." US President Bill Clinton agreed to review the COCOM system, noting that Russian cooperation on export controls, particularly regarding arms transfers to Iran, remained a major concern for the United States. Soon thereafter, Russia agreed to halt arms sales to Iran, and in March 1994, the United States and its allies terminated the COCOM arrangement. [CONT]