U.S. Allies to Restrict Computer-Technology Exports to Soviet Bloc

The Wall Street Journal

July 23, 1984

Washington -- America's allies have agreed to follow the U.S. lead and ban exports of computer-making technology to the Soviet bloc, the Reagan administration said.

That was one of the major successes of a recent agreement reached by the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls, Richard Perle, assistant secretary of defense for international security, said at a news conference.

The deliberations of Cocom, an export-screening panel run by the U.S., 13 member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Japan, usually are kept secret. But public interest in the pact, concluded July 12 in Paris, prompted the Pentagon to disclose details.

As reported, the agreement freed up more types of computers for sale to the East bloc. But by widening the embargo on the designs and blueprints for making these products, Cocom made it tougher for the Soviets to overtake the Western technology edge.

U.S. producers are tightly restricted from exporting know-how under federal regulations based on the Export Administration Act, but no other Cocom government has similar statutory controls. Now, however, the other member states are expected to enact export regulations reflecting the Paris agreement after the Cocom technical committee meets in September to spell out details.

Mr. Perle and his aides said the other key Cocom decision was to allow computers with greater capacity to be exported to the East bloc. The ceiling is now set at computers with a "processing data rate" of 48, or 50% more computing power than before.

Some versions of International Business Machine Corp.'s 4300 family fall under the new standard and probably are exportable to the Soviet bloc. But Digital Equipment Corp.'s VAX 11/782 "supermini" computer could remain on the list of banned items.

Most widely sold personal computers like Apple Computer Inc.'s Apple II and Hewlett-Packard Co.'s HP 140 series are decontrolled, as are many types of computers attached to, or embedded in, industrial machinery.

The likely consequence of these rules is the elimination of national licensing for low-priced personal computers and effective delicensing for slightly more powerful computers for sale within the Cocom community.

Commerce Department analysts expect U.S. electronics sales to the Soviet bloc to rise markedly. Last year the U.S. sold only $13 million in computers and $2 million in semiconductor devices to the Soviet bloc.

Copyright (c) 1984, Dow Jones & Co., Inc.