In a historic visit to Vietnam President Obama announced today the removal of the U.S. arms embargo on Vietnam. Dating back to the early years of the Cold War and the U.S. intervention in Vietnam in the 1960’s, the removal of the arms embargo marks the end of a long era in strained U.S. Vietnamese relations. As an effort to counteract Chinese military buildup in the South China Sea, U.S. policy is now shifting towards one in which the U.S. will likely support a Vietnamese military build-up as a counterbalance to aggressive Chinese behavior in the region. A posting on Today’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) website at http://www.pmddtc.state.gov reads as follows:
Industry Notice: Change in Policy on Exports of Munitions to Vietnam (05.23.16)
Pursuant to a decision made by the Secretary of State and effective immediately, the Department of State’s policy prohibiting the sale or transfer of lethal weapons to Vietnam, including restrictions on exports to and imports from Vietnam for arms and related materiel, has been terminated. Consequently, in accordance with the Arms Export Control Act, the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) will review on case-by-case basis applications for licenses to export or temporarily import defense articles and defense services to or from Vietnam under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). DDTC will soon publish a rule in the Federal Register to implement a conforming change to ITAR §126.1.