Final Rule on Military Electronics Covered by ITAR Implements IPC Advocacy for Enumeration of PCBs

Today, the U.S. Department of State published a final rule that enumerates printed circuit boards (PCBs) in Category XI for Military Electronics of the United States Munitions List (USML).

This is a significant win for IPC which has advocated for the enumeration of PCBs on the USML. The specific listing of PCBs in Category XI clarifies and highlights the importance of International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) on PCBs in ITAR-controlled defense articles. This clarity addresses concerns of the sourcing of printed boards for ITAR items from non-ITAR facilities, and thereby protects national security. The State Department rule states that PCBs “specially designed” (see definition of this term in this rule) for articles in USML Category XI, as well as for articles in all other USML categories, are controlled in USML Category XI and their related designs or digital data are controlled as technical data, per ITAR § 120.10.

It is expected that the enumeration of PCBs will begin to address current confusion in the defense industry about ITAR controls on PCBs by establishing a clearer standard for contractors who design, manufacture or source PCBs for military use, reducing the inappropriate sourcing of ITAR controlled PCBs from non-ITAR compliant facilities.
The rule is effective December 30, 2014 . The State Department’s Initial Implementation Rule FRN can be viewed at: https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2014-14681.pdf and the State Department’s press release is available at: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2014/06/228578.htm.

Over the past three years, IPC met with key officials at the Departments of State and Defense, filed formal comments on proposed revisions to Category XI, launched a six-month educational initiative , “Follow the Law, Protect the Board,” published a white paper, “Applicability of U.S. Defense Trade Controls to Printed Boards,” and testified before the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Since the President’s 2009 announcement on export control reform, IPC intensified its advocacy campaign for clearer and more explicit ITAR controls on PCBs as part of a revised USML. IPC’s position is clear: PCB designs should remain under the jurisdiction of ITAR when the end product for which the board is designed is a USML item. PCBs and their designs hold valuable and specific information about the workings of the underlying defense articles. In its January 2013 comments on the proposed rule, IPC stated, “In order to fully protect defense electronics and the defense articles into which they are integrated, PCBs must be controlled in the same manner as the defense electronics for which they are designed.”

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