PENTAGON ACTS TO EASE TRADE IN COMPUTERS

PENTAGON ACTS TO EASE TRADE IN COMPUTERS

In a major policy switch, the Defense Department announced Friday it would no longer block the export of many U.S. computers to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, allowing the decision to be made solely by the Commerce Department.

The Pentagon previously had jointly reviewed hundreds of such export requests along with the Commerce Department, and the agencies had clashed publicly over whether technology involved might be used by the Soviet military.But the Pentagon announcement said the Commerce Department will now have unilateral authority to approve exports of computers up to a previously set level for the Soviet Union.

The Bush administration said in January that it would work to open the eastward door to technology under intense pressure from American business and West European allies.