The Arms Export Control Act
of 1976 (Title II of Pub.L.
94-329, 90 Stat.
734, enacted June 30, 1976, codified at 22 U.S.C. ch.39
) gives the President of the United States
the authority to control the import and export of defense articles and defense services. It requires governments that receive weapons from the United States
to use them for legitimate self-defense. Consideration is given as to whether the exports "would contribute to an arms race, aid in the development of weapons of mass destruction
, support international terrorism
, increase the possibility of outbreak or escalation of conflict, or prejudice the development of bilateral or multilateral arms control or nonproliferation agreements or other arrangements." 
The Act also places certain restrictions on American arms traders
and manufacturers, prohibiting them from the sale of certain sensitive technologies to certain parties and requiring thorough documentation of such trades to trusted parties.
When the President is aware of the possibility of violations of the AECA, the law requires a report to Congress on the potential violations.