"Dear Mr. President:
"We are writing to you because of our concern over one
of the unintended impacts of the transfer of satellite licensing from
the Department of Commerce to the Department of State two years ago.
We believe that, with your assistance, correction of the situation
should be relatively easy to accomplish.
"As you know, the nation has had a distinguished record
of achievement in the scientific exploration of space since the dawn
of the Space Age over forty years ago. The joint efforts of the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration, America's universities, industry,
and international scientific collaborators have led to an enormous
advance in our knowledge of the universe. Those research activities
have also contributed greatly to the education of generations of American
scientists and engineers, as well as delivering technological spinoffs
that have benefitted the American taxpayers.
"By its nature, fundamental scientific research is best
accomplished in an environment of openness that allows the participation
of the best scientific minds in the world. In the mid-1980s, the Reagan
Administration addressed the issue of how best to balance the need
for openness in international scientific collaboration with the need
to ensure that national security is protected. The result was a policy
consensus that fundamental research should be exempt from the provisions
of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), and that
legitimate national security concerns related to sensitive technologies
employed in the research would best be addressed by classification.
As part of that consensus, scientific satellites were not included
on the Munitions List. President Reagan codified the essence of those
policies in 1985 in NSDD-189.
"Mr. President, the approach developed by the Reagan
Administration served the nation well over the following decade and
a half. We are aware of no national security breaches resulting from
collaborative space science research activities during that period.
However, a system that has worked well is in the process of unraveling
due to confusion about what the rules should be from this point forward,
and conflicting signals about how those rules would be implemented.
As a result, the highly successful framework for collaboration between
NASA, industry, and the universities in the conduct of space research
is in jeopardy.
"We thus would respectfully request that you use your
authority expeditiously to clarify the situation by reiterating the
policy consensus reached during the Reagan Administration, namely
that fundamental research shall remain exempt from the provisions
of the ITAR and scientific satellites shall not be part of the Munitions
List. Such a clarification would remove the cloud of confusion and
uncertainty that currently overhangs our nation's space science research