[amsat-bb] Re: ITAR is interesting to me

Bob McGwier rwmcgwier at gmail.com
Mon Oct 19 06:31:59 PDT 2009

Bruce Robertson wrote:
> On Sun, Oct 18, 2009 at 8:31 PM,  <k0vty at juno.com> wrote:
>> Hi Bob (N4HY)
>> Thanks for taking the time to ponder for the BB and me some of the twists
>> and turns
>> of ITAR issues.
>> I hope the BB apprecaites your time and effort.
>> Here are a few more questions?
> I have a further question, if I may, and Bob needn't feel obliged to answer it.
>  Given that AMSAT-NA is by definition a collaboration between amateurs
> on both sides of the US/Canada border, do we have a clear idea where
> ITAR stands with respect to Canadian collaborators? I know that in
> 1999 the previous exemption was revoked, but that in 2001 there were
> some changes again.
> 73, Bruce
Working with Candians and discussing satellites is a deemed export and 
must be treated as a munition transfer even between Canadians and 
Americans.  We need a technical assistance agreement with our Canadian 
brethren in amateur satellite service work.  The tough part for this is 
that we really need to work out the technical assistance agreement with 
an umbrella organization for our Canadian colleagues to be legal or be 
granted a specific exemption or work out the agreements with 
individuals.  Since Canadians are members of AMSAT-NA what organization 
could easily serve this role?  What individual would do this on their 
own without an umbrella group over them?  You have to agree to go to a 
federal prison or pay a ridiculous fine if you violate this as an 
individual.  Who would expose themselves to this?

If I sound overly negative about ITAR that is simple.  I am truly  
negative about its application to amateur radio satellites with an open 
door and publication policy on what we are doing in a not-for-profit 
mode as a 501c3 educational organization.  If I were to work on a DOD 
satellite, I would expect to keep my mouth shut or go to prison.  I have 
no trouble at all distinguishing the difference.  ITAR and the amateur 
radio and amateur satellite services are confounded in paranoia built in 
a time when the Soviet Union existed and thank goodness those days are 
over.  But what has resulted is a new set of boogie men to take their 
place and it being even harder to see how amateur radio satellites 
contribute to their evil insidious plots against us!

I am unconvinced that even trying to stop commercial companies from 
discussing the technology used in their satellites for non-defense 
purposes serves a serious security need for the U.S. since I believe all 
of the serious potential adversaries on our radar have developed 
rockets, spacecraft, weaponized warheads on the rockets, and more and 
ITAR did NOTHING to prevent it except for a delaying action that allowed 
the potential adversaries to build their own independent means but for 
these purposes, getting the shackles off the ankles of amateur radio,  I 
don't care about this argument.  My primary argument is that it makes 
absolutely no sense to stop AMSAT-NA, AMSAT-UK,  and AMSAT-DL and 
AMSAT-ZL and AMSAT-VK ..... from talking things over to make rational 

More than one of these entities just mentioned is trapped in a dilemma 
for their programs posed by ITAR because we cannot help them without an 
onerous agreement they are unwilling to sign up to.


(Co)Author: DttSP, Quiktrak, PowerSDR, GnuRadio 
Member: ARRL, AMSAT, AMSAT-DL, TAPR, Packrats,
"You don't need to see the whole staircase, just
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