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In addition to undertaking a legal review of each proposed arms transfer and third party transfers, PM/RSAT also applies the Conventional Arms Transfer Policy laid out in National Security Presidential Memorandum (NSPM-10, issued April 19, 2018 ) prior to making a determination. The policy requires that proposed transfers take into account the following criteria:

  • The National Security of the United States.
  • The appropriateness of the transfer in responding to United States security interests.
  • The degree to which the transfer contributes to ally and partner burden-sharing and interoperability in support of strategic, foreign policy, and defense interests of the United States.
  • The transfer’s consistency with United States interests in regional stability, especially when considering transfers that involve power projection, anti-access or area denial capability, or the introduction of a capability that may increase regional tensions or contribute to an arms race.
  • The transfer’s effect on the technological advantage of the United States, including the recipient’s ability to protect sensitive technology; the risk of compromise to United States systems and operational capabilities; and the recipient’s ability to prevent the diversion of sensitive technology to unauthorized end users.
  • The recipient’s nonproliferation and counterproliferation record.
  • The transfer’s contribution to efforts to counter terrorism, narcotics trafficking, transnational organized crime, or similar threats to national security.
  • The Economic Security of the United States and Innovation.
  • The transfer’s financial or economic effect on United States industry and its effect on the defense industrial base, including contributions to United States manufacturing and innovation.
  • The recipient’s ability to obtain comparable systems from competing foreign suppliers.
  • Relationships with Allies and Partners.
  • The degree to which the transfer meets the objectives of bolstering the security and counterterrorism capabilities of our allies and partners and contributes to international peace and security.
  • The degree to which the transfer increases access and influence in ways that support our strategic, foreign policy, and defense interests.
  • The recipient’s ability to field, support, and employ the requested system effectively and appropriately in accordance with its intended end use.
  • The likelihood of the transfer reducing ally and partner dependence on United States adversaries.
  • The risk that the transfer will have adverse economic, political, or social effects within the recipient country.
  • Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.
  • The risk that the transfer may be used to undermine international peace and security or contribute to abuses of human rights, including acts of gender-based violence and acts of violence against children, violations of international humanitarian law, terrorism, mass atrocities, or transnational organized crime.
  • Whether the United States has actual knowledge at the time of authorization that the transferred arms will be used to commit: genocide; crimes against humanity; grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949; serious violations of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949; attacks intentionally directed against civilian objects or civilians who are legally protected from attack; or other war crimes as defined in section 2441 of title 18, United States Code. If the United States has such knowledge, the transfer shall not be authorized.
  • Nonproliferation.
  • The risk that the transfer could undermine the integrity of international nonproliferation agreements and arrangements that prevent proliferators, programs, and entities of concern from acquiring missile technologies or other technologies that could substantially advance their ability to deliver weapons of mass destruction, or otherwise lead to a transfer to potential adversaries of a capability that could threaten the superiority of the United States military or our allies and partners.

This NSPM is the first step in a series of very practical, results-focused initiatives to transform the way the United States Government works to support and grow our defense industrial base. It directs a government-wide initiative to better align our conventional arms transfers with our national security and economic interests. It requires the United State Government to develop, and ultimately implement, a work plan to improve transfers in the most beneficial manner to national security and foreign policy interests, to include maintaining our technological edge, providing capabilities to meet shared objectives, and preventing the proliferation that may be destabilizing and dangerous to international peace and security.

We will be engaging with stakeholders to gain their perspectives on this initiative. We encourage submission of comments via email to

U.S. Department of State

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