Two ranking Reagan administration officials yesterday urged U.S. allies to tighten their export control laws and offered as a sweetener to drop all licensing requirements for the sale of militarily sensitive technology within the Western alliance.
The officials, just back from a trip to Tokyo to sell the idea to the Japanese, will leave next week on a 14-nation tour of European capitals to gain support from allies there for a strengthening of laws against the diversion of technology to Soviet bloc nations and an upgrading of the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (Cocom).
Cocom is the Paris-based organization that includes Japan and all NATO allies except Iceland. It coordinates Western export control efforts.
The new plan was revealed at a press briefing by Allan Wendt, senior State Department representative for strategic technology policy, and Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Stephen Bryen.
The new plan was put forward as Congress moves to ease U.S. export control laws, which increasingly are seen as hurting U.S. high-technology sales abroad more than they hurt the Soviet military. Furthermore, the Senate has approved the ban on U.S. sales by Toshiba and a Norwegian state-owned arms company for selling computerized milling machines to Moscow that allowed the Soviets to make their submarines quiet enough to avoid U.S. detection.
As a result of the Senate action, Japan, long considered the weakest link in Cocom, has started to upgrade its export control efforts.
"If we can get all the countries of Cocom to have a really effective level of protection ... we can then look toward the total elimination of licensing within this group of countries," Wendt said.