Carter Signs New Arms Transfer Law

President Carter has signed into law legislation that for the first time authorizes Congress to prohibit a country that buys arms from the United States to transfer them to another country. Previously, the President had simply to notify Congress of his intention to permit transfers of American-made weapons to third countries.

Thus, should Saudi Arabia, for example, wish to transfer arms bought here to an Arab state bordering on Israel, both the President and Congress would have to approve of it to be lawful.

The provision is part of the International Security Assistance Act. It was first proposed in 1975 by Senators Gaylord Nelson (D. Wisc.) and Clifford Case (R. NJ). President Ford vetoed the bill last year which contained the proposal.

Congress first gained a role in the process of selling arms when it adopted the Nelson Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1974. This requires the President to inform Congress of any proposed foreign military sale exceeding $25 million. Congress has 30 days to consider the proposal and can veto it if both Houses agree.

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