Tuesday, January 16, 2007

ITAR & Dual Citizenship

The Globe & Mail gives us today's dose of how those awful Americans are oppressing the world - this time through ITAR restrictions on military contracts.

The article states:

Despite Charter provisions that prevent discrimination based on nationality, the citizen of Canada and Syria -- along with 23 other dual-national colleagues -- was told he will never be able to work on U.S. military contracts at his workplace in Mirabel, Que.

Mr. Nahas was the latest Canadian to fall afoul of Pentagon rules that prevent people from certain countries from coming into contact with U.S. military data.

"I feel like a second-class citizen. It's discrimination, pure and simple," said Mr. Nahas, a technician who assembles helicopters.

I don't particularly agree with Mr. Nahas's assessment of the situation.

The issue is not that he is a second class citizen at all.
The issue is that he is also a first class citizen - of Syria.

I don't know Mr. Nahas and I have no reason to believe that Mr. Nahas is anything but an honest and upstanding citizen of Canada. His status in Canada is not in question, doubt or jeopardy.

If Mr. Nahas would like to renounce his Syrian citizenship, he would be allowed to perform work on the above mentioned contract. But alas, that option is never discussed when addressing the dual citizenship issue. If one chooses to hold two citizenships, then one should expect to have to play by the rules that apply to each - at the same time. You don't get to "cherry pick" from both sets. If you lose on one, its game over.

The terms of the contract were quite clear going into it. If you want to build US military aircraft, certain nations (and by extension their citizens) need not apply as it will be deemed an unacceptable security risk. Bell knew this going in. The other option is of course, to not bid on US defence work at all and lose the income that Bell Helicopter will get from the contract. If you want to do work for another country's military, you better be ready to play by its rules. That has always been the case and will be for the foreseeable future.

The US has decided that it does not want to share the designs and blueprints for its military helicopters with Syria. Few would have an issue with that decision and fewer still would have an issue with their right to make that decision. US ITAR law is written, for very good reasons, such that a transfer of information to a person is considered a transfer to all countries in which he holds citizenship. Why? Simply because that person any at any time and move to any country in which they hold citizenship and bring that information with them. If one holds a citizenship with a country, there is obviously some sort of tie or allegiance to it.

I am not saying we should do away with dual citizenships.
Sometimes these things have wonderful advantages. Other times that have disadvantages.
Be prepared to accept one with the other.


Anonymous said...

Obviously Gord, you do not understand the full extent of the reach of ITAR. Regardlesss of citizenship, if your were born in certain countries, you will have problems with ITAR.

Gord said...

ITAR divides the citizens of the world into two groups - "US persons" (defined in 22 CFR 120.14) and "foreign persons" (defined in 22 CFR 120.15). A "foreign person" under ITAR, is basically anyone who isn't a "US person". So it applies to everyone.

Nowhere in ITAR does country of birth come into play. I invite a citation of any ITAR law to the contrary.

That said, many countries that the US would prefer not to export ITAR controlled goods & technology to do not allow one to renounce citizenship, thus tieing country of birth to a dual citizenship scenario.

There are procedures for dual citizens to go through to be approved ITAR transfers. They are just more involved than the 126.5 Canadian exemption process. I have done it with several dual citizens.

Anonymous said...

Some governments have made agreements with the US State Department for exemptions to ITAR regulations. Department of Natinal Defence in Canada being one.

Private sector and other Canadian government organizations do not have this exemption. If you were born in a country that is on the list of countries with embargo, you will not be ITAR compliant. Even if you only have a Canadian citizenship.

Since you've gone through the exemption process, I urge you to find a Canadian (who has no other citizenship) that doesn't work for DND and was born in a country that is on the embargo list and see if you can get an exemption.

The definition of "dual national" has been left out on purpose in the regulations of ITAR so that it can be extended to birth place as well.