Today, President Donald J. Trump is taking action to improve the standards for exporting Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). While the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) is critical in slowing proliferation and promoting peace and security, it is in dire need of modernization as it applies to UAS. In a sector of rapidly evolving technology, the MTCR’s standards are more than three decades old. Not only do these outdated standards give an unfair advantage to countries outside of the MTCR and hurt United States industry, they also hinder our deterrence capability abroad by handicapping our partners and allies with subpar technology. More than two years of discussion with MTCR partners were unable to produce consensus on this overdue reform. Therefore, the President has decided to invoke our national discretion to treat a carefully selected subset of MTCR Category I UAS, which cannot travel faster than 800 kilometers per hour, as Category II. As such, the United States has determined that it will overcome the MTCR’s strong presumption of denial for this UAS subset.
This action, which is consistent with MTCR Guidelines and the objectives of the April 2018 UAS Export Policy, will increase our national security by improving the capabilities of our partners and increase our economic security by opening the expanding UAS market to United States industry. It also sets a strong example for other MTCR partners to adopt the same standard.
United States UAS exports continue to be subject to the rigorous review criteria outlined in the UAS Export Policy, the Conventional Arms Transfer Policy, and the Arms Export Control Act, as well as the specific nonproliferation criteria identified in the MTCR Guidelines. Likewise, approving or denying a UAS sale to any country is a whole-of-government decision and takes into account our national security, nonproliferation, and foreign policy objectives, as well as the purchasing country’s ability to responsibly use and safeguard United States-origin technology. The United States looks forward to all MTCR nations joining us in adopting this new standard.