First, the news: DDTC has just proposed to revise Category XV (Spacecraft Systems and Related Articles) of the USML to describe more precisely the articles warranting control. The revised definition of “defense service” is to include, among other things, details on the furnishing of assistance for certain spacecraft related activities. 78 Fed. Reg. 31444. Meanwhile, across town, BIS published proposed rules describing how these articles would be controlled on the CCL using new ECCNs: 9A515, 9B515, 9D515, and 9E515. For both these changes, interested persons have until July 8, 2013, to submit comments. 78 Fed. Reg. 31431
Now, the relevant back story: The history of these Category XV items is unique. While the items in the new “600 series” were on the USML because they were/are on the Wassenaar military list or because they have inherently military applications, many of the Category XV items were never on the Wassenaar ML and do not have inherently military applications. Instead, they are there because, in 1999, Congress chose to express its ire about some serious leaks of satellite technology by legislating that essentially all civilian satellite-related items, whether or not related to the military, would henceforth be classified on the USML rather than the CCL. This resulted in considerable industry frustration for years. Congress has finally backed off of this and eliminated this exception to the Administration’s classification authority, and the Administration has returned control over non-military satellites and technology to the CCL.
These non-military Category XV items won’t move to the 600 series since that would again subject these items to military-like controls. Instead, a new 515 series has been created to accommodate these items. This does not presage a procession of new series in the coming months. A situation similar to Category XV should not recur in other categories because no others include items that are there for essentially non-relevant reasons.