Published April 1984 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd Protecting Our High Technology The United States enjoys a significant and important edge over the Soviet Union in the production and manufacture of high-technology equipment. That edge is so important, in fact, that the Soviets have developed some underhanded techniques to try to get their hands on our advanced technology. During a recent congressional hearing, for instance, witnesses told senators that U.S. Customs agents had successfully thwarted an attempt to illegally sell a sophisticated computer to the Soviets by shipping it through a third country. Unfortunately, the flow of technologically sensitive equipment from the United States to the Soviet Union has become so severe that a recent report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies stated that the U.S. risks losing its technological advantage unless this situation is brought under control. While I am not inclined to agree that we have totally given up our technological edge, I do think the United States and its allies must take swift action to safeguard and preserve the advanced knowledge that makes our products so valuable to the Soviet Union and other would-be aggressors. Nowhere is that more important than in our defense technology, an area in which the competitive edge we enjoy is a key element to our national security efforts. That was what I had in mind recently when I offered an amendment in the Senate, which was adopted, that would help stem the flow of defense-sensitive technology to the Soviet Union and other foreign rivals. Specifically, this amendment, to the Export Administration Act, calls for review and comment by the Defense Department and other national security agencies on export regulations dealing with military technology. That close scrutiny is aimed at preventing the inadvertent or unlawful transfer of militarily sensitive, "high-tech" equipment to unfriendly countries. Our world today demands that we maintain a strong national defense, and one of the vital elements of that defense effort is the advantage we currently hold in the high-technology field. We must make every effort to protect our technical superiority, and in so doing maintain the military strength that means peace and freedom for our children and our grandchildren.