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U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Legal Basis for Arms Transfers

Each arms transfer request or third party transfer submitted to PM/RSAT for approval undergoes a legal review to ensure it meets the requirements demanded by the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA) and Arms Export Control Act (AECA).

Both  § 4 of the AECA and  § 502 of the FAA state that defense articles and services shall be furnished or sold solely:

  • for internal security;
  • for legitimate self-defense;
  • to permit the recipient country to participate in regional or collective arrangements consistent with the Charter of the United Nations; or
  • to assist militaries in less developed countries to construct public works and to support economic and social development activities.

Section 3 of the AECA and § 505 of the FAA provide further legal direction to PM/RSAT stating:

  • no defense article shall be sold or leased by the United States any country...and no agreement shall be entered into for any cooperative project unless:

-- the country shall have agreed not to transfer title to, or possession of, any defense article or related training or other defense service so furnished to it, or produced in a cooperative project, to anyone not an officer, employee, or agent of that country, and not to use or permit the use of such article or related training or other defense service for purposes other than those for which furnished unless the consent of the President has first been obtained;

-- the country shall have agreed that it will maintain the security of such article or service and will provide substantially the same degree of protection afforded to such article or service by the United States Government.

And for defense articles transferred by grant:

  • the country shall have agreed that the net proceeds of sale received by such country in disposing of any...implement of war received under this chapter will be paid to the United States Government.


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