Technology transfer provisions of UNCLOS could be used to acquire militarily significant dual-use technologies
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At issue is not only technology useful for seabed mining. Dual-use technologies with military applications, for instance, might also fall under ISA requirements. Peter Leitner, a Department of Defense adviser, points out that those technologies might include “underwater mapping and bathymetry systems, reflection and refraction seismology, magnetic detection technology, optical imaging, remotely operated vehicles, submersible vehicles, deep salvage technology, active and passive military acoustic systems, classified bathymetric and geophysical data, and undersea robots and manipulators.”42 Acquisition of those and other technologies could substantially enhance the undersea military activities of potential rivals, most notably China, which already has purchased some mining-capable technologies from U.S. concerns. The justification for granting U.S. government approval for past transfers to China, explains Leitner, was Beijing’s status as a miner under the LOST.43
Although the 1994 treaty modifications have toned down some of the most direct mandatory technology transfer requirements, the treaty still places at risk some very sensitive, and militarily useful, technology which may readily be misused by the navies of ocean mining states.