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– Lord Des Browne
Vice Chairman, Nuclear Threat Initiative
Iran

Congress Levies Accusations on Gore-Chernomyrdin Deal

Wade Boese

Just weeks before the presidential election, Republican legislators alleged that Vice President Al Gore concluded a secret June 1995 deal with Moscow whereby Russia was permitted to transfer arms to Iran without the United States imposing sanctions called for by U.S. non-proliferation laws. The Clinton administration denied that the deal required ignoring U.S. law, and it staunchly defended the agreement, arguing that it was responsible for Russia not signing any new "advanced" conventional arms contracts with Iran after 1995. Though Russia has not strictly abided by its commitments not to sell additional weaponry to Iran, its pre-1995 deals do not appear to be sanctionable under U.S. law. (See p. 25 for coverage of nuclear-related accusations.)

Building on a September 1994 statement from then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin to President Bill Clinton that Moscow would end arms sales to Iran, Gore secured a written agreement, officially referred to as an "aide memoire," from then-Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin in June 1995 that Russia would not sign any new arms deals with Iran and would complete delivery of all existing weapons orders by the end of 1999. In exchange, Washington supported Russian participation in founding a new arms trade regime—what would subsequently become the 1996 Wassenaar Arrangement. Lynn Davis, then-undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs, publicly elaborated on the deal in a July 12, 1995, speech to a Washington think tank audience.

As part of the agreement, Russia provided the United States with an accounting of all pending arms deals that it expected to fulfill with Iran, thereby preventing Russia from modifying its deals or adding sales in the future and then claiming they had been concluded before 1995. Reportedly, the supplied list of deals in the pipeline—the bulk of which were signed in 1991 or earlier—included battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, a Kilo-class submarine, torpedoes, and aerial bombs.

Last year, Russia informed the United States that delivery of some of the pre-1995 deals would not be completed by the agreed 1999 deadline and asked for an extension. The United States objected, but Russia has continued to transfer arms to Iran this year. Department of State spokesman Richard Boucher said October 13 that the administration has "made clear in no uncertain terms in our discussions [with Russia] that we don't approve of that extension." Boucher noted earlier that "to the best of our knowledge" Russia has "signed no new contracts for the sale of advanced conventional arms to Iran for the last five years."

An August report issued by the Congressional Research Service, however, claims that between 1996 and 1999 Russia agreed to arms sales with Iran worth roughly $200 million. Anthony Cordesman, who served as an assistant on national security matters to Senator John McCain (R-AZ), wrote in an October 15 report that "violations of U.S. and Russian agreements have been minor, have had little military meaning, and been more technical than substantive." Early this year, Iran started taking delivery of five Mi-17 combat transport helicopters, which were reportedly not on the 1995 agreed list.

 

GOP Senators Air Charges

At an October 5 joint subcommittee hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee devoted to Russian involvement in Iranian weapons programs, Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) grilled Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation Robert Einhorn on Russian arms sales to Iran. Brownback, citing a recently released CIA report on proliferation which charged that Russia "remains an important source of conventional weapons and spare parts for Iran," asserted that Russia had not lived up to its "negotiated" 1995 deal to end its Iranian arms trade. The senator further explained that in return for the 1995 Russian commitment the United States had "pledged to avoid any sanctions."

Eight days later, The New York Times ran a front-page story on the 1995 aide memoire, quoting sections of the classified document. The article named the 1992 Iran-Iraq Arms Non-Proliferation Act as the law the Gore-Chernomyrdin agreement "appeared to undercut," though it erroneously stated that the legislation calls for sanctions to be applied to all countries that transfer weapons to state sponsors of terrorism. Cosponsored by McCain and Gore, when he represented Tennessee in the Senate, the 1992 legislation calls on the United States to impose sanctions on countries supplying Baghdad or Tehran with "destabilizing numbers and types of advanced conventional weapons." The act lists specific types of weapons defined as "advanced" but leaves it to the president's discretion to determine what would be "destabilizing" or to expand the list by adding additional weapon systems.

(A separate U.S. law prohibits the United States from providing foreign assistance to countries that deliver "lethal military equipment" to states sponsoring terrorism. This specific legislation was first enacted on September 30, 1993. The law only applied to contracts entered into after the law took effect and would therefore not apply retroactively to any Russian deals in the aide memoire concluded prior to that date. This language was later amended to the Foreign Assistance Act on April 24, 1996.

Against a backdrop of rising press attention, Senators Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Brownback held an October 19 press conference to announce that they would hold a hearing the following week to investigate the 1995 agreement. Brownback, who had earlier noted in the October 5 hearing that the United States had pledged to avoid sanctions in return for Russia halting its arms deals with Iran, declared at the press conference that "the first I knew about this agreement was when the story broke in The New York Times." A Senate Republican staffer explained in an October 26 interview that the senator meant the Times article was the first he had heard of a "written" deal.

As further evidence that the Clinton administration "willfully" intended to "ignore U.S. statutes," at the press conference Brownback cited a secret January 13, 2000, letter from Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov—also excerpted in press accounts—that stated "without the aide memoire, Russia's conventional arms sales to Iran would have been subject to sanctions based on various provisions of our laws." The senators called on the administration to turn over all relevant documents.

The Administration Response

Appearing October 15 on NBC, National Security Adviser Samuel Berger noted that the Russian deals reported under the 1995 aide memoire did not match the types defined as "advanced" by the Iran-Iraq Act. On October 13, the day The New York Times article appeared, Richard Boucher stated that before Gore signed the aide memoire, the Pentagon reviewed the Russian arms sales and concluded that "none" would be destabilizing or would threaten the military balance in the Persian Gulf. The State Department spokesman also asserted that none of the contracts were "sanctionable by law because they predate the effective date of the various lethal military equipment sanctions laws and because they did not meet the threshold for advanced conventional weapons, as defined in the Iran-Iraq Nonproliferation Act of 1992." A Gore aide, interviewed on October 23, further stated that "In no way did the Vice President pledge to forgo sanctions that would be applicable under U.S. law."

Testifying before a joint hearing of Senate subcommittees on October 25, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation Controls John Barker provided the administration's fullest explanation of the deal. Barker stated the U.S. government only gave the assurance that it would take "appropriate steps" not to sanction Russia for its pre-1995 deals "after a careful review to ensure that they did not in fact trigger mandatory sanctions under the Iran-Iraq Act or other potential applicable sanctions laws." The intelligence community, Pentagon, Department of State, and the Joint Staff, according to Barker, all participated in the review before a "conclusion of non-sanctionability was reached."

Barker, who started his testimony by warning that U.S. negotiating strategy with Russia was "being compromised by discussing these matters in public," emphasized the administration made "no promise" not to impose U.S. law. "It has always been the case that the transfers subject to the aide memoire do not trigger U.S. sanctions laws. There were no sanctions to impose," he said.

Addressing Russia's transfer of a Kilo-class submarine in 1997, which GOP senators have repeatedly highlighted as an example of a sanctionable transfer, Barker stated that the submarine did not fall within the 1992 act's definition of an advanced conventional weapon. He added that he assumed "[President George Bush's] administration must have reached the same conclusion" since a Kilo was first delivered to Iran in 1992 without eliciting sanctions. Tehran signed the contract for three Kilos in 1988; deliveries took place in 1992, 1993, and 1997.

Barker also dismissed an accusation made in an October 24 letter by 11 former high-level government officials that the United States had "acquiesced" to sales of Russian fighter aircraft to Iran. "Advanced military aircraft" are on the sanctionable list of the 1992 Iran-Iraq Act, but Barker stated, "We believe that Iran's Russian aircraft were supplied before 1995," meaning they would not have fallen under the purview of the Gore-Chernomyrdin agreement.

Explaining the Albright letter, Barker said that it was "intended to deliver a stern warning that failure to abide by the restrictions embodied in the aide memoire regarding arms sales to Iran could have serious consequences." He said the letter was sent at a time when the administration was looking for Russian clarifications on their compliance with the aide memoire. "We felt it appropriate to stress the maximum consequences they might face, depending on further disclosures about Russian export activity," he said. Barker claimed the approach worked in that Russia reaffirmed its "commitment to limit the scope of the conventional weapons transfers to those items covered by the aide memoire."

Speaking to the issue of whether the administration kept the deal secret, Barker testified that the "thrust of these documents was widely telegraphed to both the Congress and the American people." He noted the administration released a fact sheet at the time and has frequently made reference to the deal, including in congressional testimony. Prior to the hearing on October 19, White House spokesman Jake Siewert said the House International Relations Committee had received a briefing in 1995 and remarked the upcoming hearing was "more about the election season than about the real substance here."

After the Senate hearing, which went into closed session, Senator Brownback released a statement saying that until the administration turns over the full text of the aide memoire, questions will remain whether the administration broke U.S. law. That afternoon, senior GOP senators demanded the administration hand over the documents, which it had so far refused to do, by noon October 30 or face the possibility of a subpoena to release the aide memoire. On the day of the deadline, the State Department proposed allowing only the congressional leadership access to the relevant documents, but GOP leaders rejected the offer as inadequate.

Iran Tests

Alex Wagner

Iran announced July 15 that it had successfully conducted its second test of the Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile, demonstrating Tehran's continued interest and progress in missile development. The test comes amid continuing debate in the United States over the need to deploy a national missile defense.

Defense Secretary William Cohen stated in a July 17 press conference that the launch did "not come as a surprise" to the United States but rather confirmed the Pentagon's "anticipation" of continued progress in Iran's ballistic missile capabilities. In a 1999 report to Congress, the CIA had noted that Iran probably already had the capability to deploy a "limited number of the Shahab-3 prototype missiles in an operational mode."

While the Pentagon remains uncertain how many tests Iran would need to completely develop confidence in the Shahab-3, on July 18 spokesman Kenneth Bacon told reporters that for Iran the test was "clearly…a success" that moves it closer to having the confidence necessary for full deployment.

In early July, Iran announced the creation of five ballistic missile units under the command of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)—an elite military organization that is responsible for the country's strategic military programs. Any deployment of the Shahab-3 would be administrated by the IRGC, which is directly controlled by Iran's supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The Shahab-3 is a 53-foot long, liquid-fueled, road-mobile missile derived from both the North Korean Scud-C and No Dong-1 and constructed with significant Russian technological and material assistance. With an estimated range of 1,300 kilometers and payload of 700 kilograms, it is the pre-eminent missile in the Iranian arsenal, capable of targeting all of Israel and U.S. bases in Saudi Arabia, in addition to portions of Russia and Turkey.

The first test, conducted on July 22, 1998, was shown on Iranian state-run television and exploded 100 seconds after launch. Although Iran claimed it was a success, both U.S. government officials and regional analysts maintain that the 1998 test was a failure.

The latest test comes as the Clinton administration nears a decision on whether to proceed with the deployment of a limited national missile defense system. The development of advanced, long-range missiles by "states of concern," including Iran, has been used as the primary rationale for the system.

In February 1999, Iran's defense minister, Admiral Ali Shamkhani, announced that Iran was in the process of testing and developing motors for a Shahab-4 missile with a space-launch-vehicle capability. Derived largely from the Russian SS-4, the Shahab-4 is expected to have a range of approximately 2,000 kilometers. Cohen emphasized that he expects Iran will "continue to develop a longer-range missile range capability."

Iran, DPRK Sanctioned for Missile Transfers

According to an April 14 announcement, the Clinton administration has imposed sanctions on four firms in Iran and one in North Korea for "missile technology proliferation activities." The targeted firms are Changgwang Sinyong Corporation in North Korea; and the Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics, Aerospace Industries Organization, Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, and Sanam Industrial Group, all in Iran.

While State Department officials would not identify the exact nature of the transfers, spokesman James Rubin said that they involved Category I items as defined by the Missile Technology Control Regime. Category I items include complete rocket systems that exceed range and payload guidelines of 300 kilometers and 500 kilograms, production facilities for such systems, individual rocket stages, re-entry vehicles and related technologies, certain types of rocket engines, and advanced guidance systems.

Rubin also implied a connection between the North Korean and Iranian firms. Iran has a long history of receiving missile technology assistance from North Korea, first receiving Scud-type missiles during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. In his April 14 remarks, Rubin reiterated continuing U.S. concerns about North Korea's export of Scud missiles, which are the basis for its Nodong short-range ballistic missile. Citing U.S. intelligence sources, The Washington Times reported in February that North Korea had transferred several Nodong rocket engines to Iran last November.

The five firms will be denied U.S. government contracts, export licenses for certain controlled items, and the ability to sell any products in the U.S. market for two years. The sanctions' economic impact will be limited, however, as the U.S. government currently does no business with any of the targeted organizations.

The official Korean Central News Agency responded vehemently to the sanctions April 19, noting, "We cannot but take a serious view of this as it is a virulent challenge to the process for the normalization of the D.P.R.K.-U.S. relations." Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Assefi denied any cooperation with the North Koreans. "Our missile program is made locally without any foreign assistance," he said in a statement on Tehran radio April 16.

 Iran, DPRK Sanctioned for Missile Transfers

Clinton Signs 'Iran Nonproliferation Act'

Matthew Rice


ENDING A TWO-YEAR dispute with Congress, on March 14 President Clinton signed the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000, which authorizes him to take punitive action against individuals or organizations known to be providing material aid to weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs in Iran. The legislation (H.R. 1883) also substantially cuts U.S. funding to Russian space agencies responsible for the joint U.S.-Russian space station project, absent a determination that Russia "has demonstrated and continues to demonstrate a sustained commitment to seek out and prevent" aid to Iran's weapons programs.

Clinton vetoed a 1998 version of the bill that focused on missile proliferation to Iran because it required the imposition of sanctions on Russian entities unless the president determined that a waiver of sanctions was "essential" to U.S. national security. The administration argued that the legislation, the Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act of 1998, would harm the administration's effort to garner Russian cooperation on a wide range of proliferation issues.

However, to demonstrate his commitment to stopping Russian aid to Iran's WMD efforts and to avoid an override of his veto, Clinton amended Executive Order 12938, the 1994 order that declared a national emergency with regard to WMD proliferation, to allow the executive branch to impose financial penalties on proliferators. Clinton immediately exercised this new authority, sanctioning seven Russian entities in June 1998 for their assistance to Iran's ballistic missile program. Three more were sanctioned in January 1999 for the same reason. (See ACT, June/July 1998 and January/February 1999.)

The language of the new law is substantially less restrictive than the 1998 legislation. It requires the president to submit to Congress every six months a list of entities known to be providing material assistance to Iranian WMD programs. The president is then authorized and encouraged to utilize Executive Order 12938 provisions, arms export prohibitions, and dual-use export prohibitions on those entities. But the onus for action remains soundly with the president. Should the president decide not to take action against a particular entity, congressional notification and a written explanation is required, but a waiver is not.

Apart from expanded reporting requirements, the legislation will not require any demonstrable action by the administration against Russian entities. Russian officials nevertheless responded angrily to the suggestion that Russia was aiding Iranian programs.

"Why are we considered fools?" Sergei Ivanov, secretary of the Russian Security Council, asked in an interview with the Interfax news agency. Russia, he said, has no interest in giving Iran "a grenade with a pulled-out pin" that could then "be hurled back" at Moscow.

The Russian Foreign Ministry also balked at the legislation. In a March 15 statement released to Interfax, the Foreign Ministry noted that, depending on the administration's use of the authority granted in the legislation, the bill "may significantly undermine…Russian-American interaction in the field of non-proliferation and export control."

The bill's strong bipartisan support (the measure was passed unanimously in both houses) sent a message to the White House that Congress is concerned about Russian involvement in Iranian proliferation activities. Congressional sources said that many members see the legislation as a gentle reminder to the president that Capitol Hill is watching the administration on this issue.

Clinton Signs 'Iran Nonproliferation Act'

Russia Reaffirms Nuclear Aid Commitment to Iran

January/February 2000

On January 14, Russia reaffirmed its intention to expand nuclear cooperation with Iran. Following a meeting between high-level Russian and Iranian defense officials, Russian Vice Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov announced that Iran may order an additional three nuclear reactors to supplement the existing light-water reactor project at Bushehr. Russian Energy Minister Yevgeny Adamov initially announced plans to conduct a feasibility study on the three additional reactors in November 1998, estimating that the proposed reactors would cost $3-4 billion. Iran is considering the offer, Adamov said January 26.

U.S. officials have expressed concern that civilian nuclear cooperation with Russia could aid Iran's efforts to clandestinely develop a military nuclear capability. Russia maintains that the projects pose no threat, citing Iran's compliance with IAEA safeguards as a state-party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The United States secured agreement in 1995 from then-President Boris Yeltsin to abandon any militarily useful nuclear cooperation with Iran, specifically the transfer of a centrifuge enrichment plant originally guaranteed in the 1995 Bushehr protocol with Tehran.

Shortly following the Russian announcement, The New York Times reported that CIA Director George Tenet had briefed administration officials on a change in the agency's assessment of the advancement of Iran's nuclear weapons. Sources cited in the January 17 Times article stated that the change acknowledged an inability to confidently track Iranian clandestine acquisition of nuclear material and technology. As a result, the CIA can no longer rule out the possibility that Iran has acquired nuclear weapons, the report said.

Concern about the pace of Iran's nuclear program is not new. In his annual threat assessment before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February 1999, Tenet urged vigilance "against the possibility of a proliferation surprise" in Iran. U.S. intelligence estimates, including the 1998 report of the Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States (the "Rumsfeld Report"), have projected a 10-year timeline for the indigenous production of adequate fissile material stocks for a few weapons should Iran abandon IAEA safeguards. However, acquisition of such material from outside sources could substantially speed the weaponization process.

Russia Reaffirms Nuclear Aid Commitment to Iran

Confrontation and Retreat: The U.S. Congress and the South Asian Nuclear Tests

In May 1998 was not a good month for U.S. non-proliferation efforts. On May 11 and 13, India detonated five nuclear devices, its first nuclear tests in nearly a quarter century. Not to be outdone, its bitter rival Pakistan conducted six nuclear tests of its own toward the end of the month. These sudden developments, long feared but nonetheless catching American officials and intelligence analysts by surprise, effectively blew U.S. policy toward the South Asian subcontinent to smithereens and laid down a direct challenge to the global non-proliferation regime.

Within the U.S. Congress, non-proliferation advocates like Representative Edward Markey (D-MA) and India-bashers such as Representative Dan Burton (R-IN) voiced outrage and called for the immediate triggering of sanctions under Sec. 102(b) of the Arms Export Control Act, universally known as the Glenn amendment. New Delhi's actions were "reckless, shameful and irresponsible," Markey insisted. Burton urged his House colleagues to "stop subsidizing India's nuclear progress" by cutting U.S. economic assistance to New Delhi. "India took a terrible, terrible step yesterday," Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) told the Senate the day after India's first round of tests. Paraphrasing Franklin Roosevelt, the Iowa Democrat declared that "yesterday is a day that will live in infamy for the Nation of India."<1>

Of greater interest was the response of those who earlier had been among India's most vocal supporters. Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ), perhaps New Delhi's leading champion on Capitol Hill, expressed regret at the tests but insisted they should not derail the U.S.-India relationship. But other lawmakers usually sympathetic to India were less supportive. Many of the leading members of the House's India caucus remained noticeably silent, and some privately suggested that the caucus publicly condemn India. Several legislators, including House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-MO), canceled plans to visit India. "In light of the nuclear tests," a Gephardt spokesman explained, "we did not want there to be the appearance of business as usual."<2>

The situation was exacerbated 17 days later, when Pakistan conducted its own tests. Aside from the expected condemnations of Pakistan and criticism of the Clinton administration for allowing events to get so out of hand, a number of members voiced anxiety that South Asian tensions could spiral out of control. "This is the most serious situation since the Cuban missile crisis," Senator John McCain (R-AZ) warned, a judgment seconded by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY).<3>

Only days after the tests, President Bill Clinton responded as he was legally obligated under the Glenn amendment, slapping wide-ranging economic and military sanctions on New Delhi and Islamabad. Yet no sooner had Washington taken this stand on behalf of global non-proliferation norms than it began to walk back from its position. Within 18 months, the U.S. Congress swung from applauding strict sanctions to urging the president to waive not only the Glenn amendment, but also the Pressler and Symington amendments, which mandate further penalties for states engaged in certain nuclear activity. (For more information on this legislation, see sidebar.) Earlier convinced of the need to maintain a tough stance as an object lesson for other nuclear threshold states, by the end of 1999 U.S. lawmakers had completely turned their backs on sanctions as a tool of non-proliferation policy. Congressional anger over the South Asian tests had given way to acceptance, even understanding. Congress, it would appear, had abandoned 25 years of non-proliferation activity.

The U.S. Congress was trying to achieve multiple objectives that were not entirely compatible. Concerned about proliferation and wanting a voice in foreign policy that would compete with the executive branch, it had mandated the sanctions. But when faced with post-Cold War national interests, the growing influence of the domestic South Asian-American community and an increasing interest in the subcontinent by U.S. business, the legislators moved non-proliferation to the back burner and renounced with dizzying speed the sanctions on India and Pakistan they had so recently supported. The impact of these steps on the non-proliferation regime is not yet clear. But what is apparent is that Congress' love-hate relationship with sanctions as a tool of foreign policy is far from over.

The Retreat

Discomfort with the Glenn amendment sanctions surfaced shortly after they were imposed on Pakistan and served to trigger a broader discussion of the utility of sanctions in general. It was time "to engage in a serious debate on the merits of using unilateral economic sanctions to achieve foreign policy goals," Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) declared. Observing that the threat of sanctions had deterred neither India nor Pakistan from testing, he worried that U.S. sanctions could destabilize a Pakistan already burdened with enormous economic and political problems. "An unstable Pakistan with nuclear weapons," he added, "is not in our interests."<4>

Other comments focused more narrowly on U.S. economic interests. "Pakistan is not a trading partner we can afford to lose," cautioned the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, Robert Smith (R-OR), reflecting sentiment especially pronounced in wheat-growing areas of the Pacific Northwest. "There is no leverage in cutting off our sales," complained Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY). "It does not make a difference on the dinner table in Islamabad, but it sure will in Topeka."<5>

Recognizing this widespread dissatisfaction with sanctions, the Senate leadership created a special 18-member task force, headed by McConnell and Joseph Biden (D-DE), to examine both the way the India and Pakistan sanctions were working, and the larger question of how effective sanctions are in influencing the behavior of other nations. "There's a feeling on both sides of the aisle that perhaps the proclivity to place economic sanctions on countries around the world and with not a clear way of ending those has become a problem," explained Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) in what was clearly an understatement.<6>

It did not take long for this uneasiness over the Glenn amendment sanctions to translate into congressional action. The initial breach in the sanctions regime came in early July, less than two months after the first Indian test. The impetus behind this move was readily apparent. Pakistan was the leading foreign buyer of U.S. white wheat, and the third largest overseas purchaser of all U.S. wheat. But unless Congress acted to permit export financing, U.S. farmers would be unable to participate in winter wheat auctions in Pakistan, scheduled for mid-July.

"We are six days away from a disaster," warned Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) in early July. "Farmers around the country are staring an economic train wreck in the eye."<7> The full Senate apparently agreed, rushing through legislation without the normal committee review and voting 98-0 to give both India and Pakistan a one-year exemption from Glenn amendment restrictions on Department of Agriculture financing for the purchase of agricultural commodities from U.S. farmers.<8> The Senate bill originally contained authority for the president to waive other sanctions as well, but a filibuster threat by Senator John Glenn (D-OH), author of the Glenn amendment and perhaps the Senate's leading non-proliferation expert, succeeded in getting this provision dropped.

Action in the House was equally swift and revealing of congressional priorities. Representatives Robert Livingston (R-LA) and David Obey (D-WI), the chairman and ranking minority member, respectively, of the House Appropriations Committee, urged a more considered approach, but not even these senior power brokers could slow the stampede. This legislation, its supporters argued, did not indicate any lessening of the U.S. commitment to non-proliferation. To the contrary, by crafting a more focused sanctions policy, it would help secure the domestic base for maintaining sanctions.

Such elaborate rationalizations could not hide the actual intent of most members, however. Hardly a word about non-proliferation figured in the House debate. No one displayed anger at India or Pakistan for violating long-standing international norms against testing. Instead, the debate was all about helping the U.S. farmer, about not losing markets or penalizing American wheat growers. The House's leading non-proliferation proponents were noticeably absent during the debate. Not surprisingly, the House followed the Senate's lead and adopted the measure in time for American farmers to take part in the Pakistani wheat auction.<9>

This modest step was quickly followed by others. The day after the House's approval of the wheat relief bill, the Senate, with the blessing of the administration, adopted the Brownback amendment. The Brownback amendment-named for its author, Kansas Republican Sam Brownback, chairman of the Senate subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian affairs-provided the president with the authority to waive, for a period of one year, Glenn, Symington and Pressler amendment sanctions, except for those pertaining to military assistance, dual-use exports and military sales.

Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, complained that the Senate had "rushed forward, willy nilly," without adequate review or committee hearings, but chose not to block passage.<10> Glenn, who might have been expected to protest this gutting of his namesake legislation, was conveniently away from Washington training for the space shuttle flight he was to make later in the year. Recalling Glenn's absence sometime afterward, one insider conceded that while not deliberately planned, Senate action on the legislation at the very moment its primary opponent was preoccupied with other matters was more than simply a happy coincidence.

The Brownback amendment (formally known as the India-Pakistan Relief Act of 1998) was incorporated into the fiscal 1999 omnibus appropriations bill and signed into law in October 1998. Following its adoption, President Clinton quickly restored funding for U.S. military training programs in India and Pakistan, as well as government-backed financing and credit guarantees for U.S. firms doing business there. Clinton also lifted restrictions on U.S. commercial loans and credits to both countries and announced that Washington would support a pending Pakistani request before the International Monetary Fund. Encouraged by the absence of opposition to these steps, Clinton then moved to eliminate another long-standing irritant in the U.S.-Pakistani relationship by agreeing to pay Islamabad $325 million in cash and $140 million in goods as compensation for 28 F-16 aircraft that Pakistan had earlier bought, but whose delivery had been prevented by the 1990 triggering of the Pressler amendment. Once more, Capitol Hill acquiesced virtually without dissent.

In October 1999, Congress took a further step by adopting, as part of the defense appropriations bill, another, more sweeping Brownback amendment-sometimes called Brownback II. This measure gave the president permanent authority to waive, with respect to India and Pakistan, all the provisions of the Glenn amendment. In addition, it authorized the president to waive the Symington and Pressler amendment sanctions, which had prohibited almost all U.S. economic and military assistance to Pakistan since 1990. Finally, the legislation stated that the "broad application" of export controls on Indian and Pakistani government agencies and private companies suspected of having links to their country's nuclear or missile programs (the so-called "entities list") was "inconsistent" with U.S. national security interests. Instead, the lawmakers urged the executive branch to apply U.S. export controls only to those agencies and companies that made "direct and material contributions to weapons of mass destruction and missile programs and only to those items that can contribute to such programs."

Brownback II represented an extraordinary reversal of American policy. The measure handed the president the authority to lift all sanctions imposed upon India and Pakistan as a result of their 1998 nuclear tests. More remarkably yet, Congress abandoned even those sanctions it had placed upon Pakistan prior to Islamabad's tests. Seventeen months after its nuclear detonations, Pakistan found itself far better off vis-à-vis American nuclear non-proliferation law than it had been at any time since 1990. Finally, with its statement on export controls, the U.S. Congress appeared to condemn rigorous steps to prevent the transfer of sensitive technology that might be used in the nuclear weapons or missile programs of India or Pakistan, and implicitly authorized the export of materials that might indirectly assist those programs. It was a stunning retreat from Capitol Hill's decades-long reliance on punitive measures to block the spread of weapons of mass destruction.<11>

Never happy about being forced in 1990 to trigger the Pressler amendment, the executive branch saw Brownback II as the achievement of a long-desired objective. Administration officials were pleased with the measure in another respect as well. An earlier draft of the legislation would have suspended for five years the Glenn, Symington and Pressler sanctions, whereas Brownback II, as finally adopted, gave the president the latitude to lift the sanctions only when and if he saw fit. This flexibility, the State Department believed, would strengthen the president's hand in subsequent negotiations with India and Pakistan.

The timing of these proceedings also merits mention. A House-Senate conference committee adopted the defense appropriations bill containing Brownback II on October 11, 1999. The following day the Pakistani military dismissed the civilian government in Islamabad and seized power. On October 13 and 14, the House and Senate respectively took up the defense bill. Both houses adopted the measure by substantial majorities. The military coup in Pakistan was all but ignored during debate over the bill, with only one member of either house troubling to go to the floor to express skepticism about the wisdom of a wholesale abandonment of sanctions against Pakistan at the very moment the Pakistani military was throwing out a democratically elected government. True, Brownback II was but one small provision in a huge bill appropriating over one-quarter of a trillion dollars. Nonetheless, this silence about contemporaneous events in Islamabad suggests just how far Congress had traveled since the South Asian tests 17 months earlier.

South Asia in the Congressional Mindset

All in all, it had been a remarkable year and a half. The United States had imposed extensive sanctions and then just as quickly lifted not only Glenn amendment sanctions, but Symington and Pressler amendment restrictions as well. Initially expressing concern for the global non-proliferation regime, Congress, in less than 18 months, had moved to the position that it should not jeopardize other interests in pursuit of unobtainable non-proliferation objectives. How does one explain this dramatic transformation in congressional attitudes and actions?

The Indian-American community

Part of the explanation is political. As the 1990s unfolded, South Asia, and India in particular, gained increasing prominence on the congressional agenda. This new politically inspired concern for the region partly reflected changes in the Asian-American community. As recently as 1980, there were only 387,000 Indian-Americans in the United States. But the next two decades saw a dramatic increase in the size of this community. By 1997, this number had more than tripled, to 1,215,000. (The total U.S. population during the same period grew by 17.8 percent.) By the later date, the Indian-American community comprised the third largest Asian-American population in the country, surpassed only by Chinese- and Filipino-Americans.

Numbers tell only part of the story. The Indian-American community is also highly educated and prosperous. Fifty-eight percent of the adult community has at least a bachelor's degree. A larger percentage of the Indian-American work force holds a managerial or professional position than any other group in the country, with especially high representation among well-paid doctors, engineers, scientists, architects and computer professionals. As a result, the Indian-American per capita income exceeds that of every other group in the country, including whites.<12>

Until recently, this wealth and status had not translated into political clout, but that is rapidly changing. Since the community is widely and relatively evenly distributed throughout all parts of the country, few congressional districts are without at least a handful of Indian-American families. Even in states such as Kansas, where the Indian-American community is negligible, Senator Brownback notes that they make their presence felt.<13> The largest concentrations, however, reside in the major industrial-urban states of New York, New Jersey, California, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Texas, Florida and Massachusetts. As a whole, the community has avoided identification with either of the two major political parties and gives generously to both. Indian-Americans raised $4 million on behalf of political candidates for the 1992 election, and the figures are almost certainly significantly higher today.<14> "By their engagement and their aggressiveness," Brownback has observed, "they're able to influence things beyond their numbers."<15>

Indian-American organizations now deliberately reach out to their Washington representatives. Professional groups, such as the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, increasingly invite leading congressional supporters to address their meetings. The Indian American Friendship Council-to take but one example-sponsors a legislative conference in Washington each year, which prominent U.S. lawmakers are invited to address. The July 1999 conference, for instance, was attended by nearly 40 U.S. lawmakers and featured speeches by House Minority Leader Gephardt; House International Relations Committee Chair Benjamin Gilman (R-NY); and Doug Bereuter (R-NE), chairman of the House Asia subcommittee.

These congressional addresses do not always feature careful or measured discussion of U.S.-Indian ties. Instead, these events encourage an outpouring of praise for India, condemnation of Pakistani policies and devotion to strong Indian-American ties. The U.S.-Indian relationship, Gephardt told council members at the 1999 conference, is possibly the most important bilateral relationship in the world. Though perhaps harmless, such exuberance may serve to mislead members of the Indian-American community about the current state or future direction of U.S. policy.

An important development for the clout of the Indian-American community on Capitol Hill occurred following the 1992 elections. That autumn, Representative Stephen J. Solarz (D-NY) fell victim to redistricting and lost his congressional seat. The influential chairman of the House subcommittee on Asia had been widely regarded as India's most energetic advocate in the Congress, and over the years had, almost alone among his congressional colleagues, raised large sums of money in the Indian-American community. Solarz's defeat opened the door for a junior New Jersey Democrat, Frank Pallone, who up to this time had displayed no particular interest in either American foreign policy or the Indian-American community.

At first the loss of Solarz was seen as a blow to the community's influence, but Pallone was a shrewd politician who had a need and recognized an opportunity. The need arose from the vicissitudes of redistricting, which had thrown a large Indian-American population into his new congressional district. The opportunity arose from the vacuum created by Solarz's departure. A few weeks after the 1992 elections, Pallone enlisted six other Democrats and Florida Republican Bill McCollum to organize the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans. One of the first congressional caucuses devoted to promoting relations with a single country, the group grew far more rapidly than Pallone could have envisioned in even his wildest fantasies. By mid-1999, the India caucus, as it was invariably called, boasted a membership of 115 members, over a quarter of the entire House of Representatives.

Galvanized by Pallone's energetic leadership and considerable skills for publicizing both the caucus and his own role in Indian-American affairs, the organization aggressively argued the case for better U.S.-Indian relations. Pallone's office established an effective information and communications network and made certain that caucus members knew whenever the House was slated to vote on issues of interest to the Indian-American community. The caucus distributed talking points, enlisted floor speakers and lined up votes. It provided India, for the first time, with an institutional base of support on Capitol Hill and, according to one analyst, an "anchor to windward."

The Pakistani-American community

The Pakistani-American population is only one-tenth the size of the Indian-American community. Not surprisingly, it lags far behind its larger rival in its visibility and its clout on Capitol Hill. Pakistan has no congressional equivalent of the India caucus. Various efforts to organize a Pakistan caucus have foundered on congressional indifference and the hard political reality that publicly aligning themselves with Pakistan holds few political incentives for most members of the U.S. Congress.

Throughout the 1980s and the close Pakistani-American partnership against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, Texas Democrat Charlie Wilson was an energetic and effective advocate for Islamabad in the House of Representatives. But since Wilson's retirement from Congress in 1996, no one has stepped forward to take his place. The situation is slightly more favorable for Pakistan in the Senate, where several members, including Brownback, Harkin and Robert Torricelli (D-NJ), are viewed as particularly sympathetic to Islamabad. Pakistan's marginally stronger position in the Senate has influenced the legislative strategy of the Clinton administration as it has sought statutory relief from congressionally mandated sanctions against Islamabad. In both 1998 and 1999, with Brownback I and II, the administration focused its efforts on securing adoption in the Senate. Since the equivalent House measure contained no comparable provision, a Senate-House conference committee resolved the issue, neatly sidestepping the potential obstacle represented by a separate House vote and a mobilized India caucus.

The U.S. business community

Constituent pressure, of course, constitutes only one of many sources of influence on members of Congress as they deal with South Asian issues. In recent years, since India began opening up its economy in 1991, economic considerations and the American business community have also assumed a larger role on matters pertaining to the subcontinent. Although its promise still far exceeds its actual performance, the Indian market, with its alluring prospect of several hundred million middle-class consumers, has increasingly attracted the attention of both Wall Street and Main Street.

This new business interest has been reflected on Capitol Hill. Many members of Congress, constantly on the lookout for fresh sales and investment opportunities-which can mean more jobs for constituents and greater profits for local businesses-find their gaze more and more drawn to South Asia and to India above all. Paeans to India's economic reforms have replaced denunciations of Nehruvian socialism as standard congressional rhetoric. Traveling legislators, who once shunned the subcontinent, now regularly pass through New Delhi, the financial center of Mumbai (Bombay) and the Indian Silicon Valley in Bangalore.

Private groups such as the U.S.-India Business Council and the India Interest Group lobby individual members of Congress on behalf of sanctions relief and U.S. government credits and investment guarantees. According to several of Capitol Hill's most knowledgeable South Asia experts, U.S. business and agricultural groups were "key" to the July 1998 rollback of some of the Glenn amendment sanctions.<16> These same organizations also supported the 1998 and 1999 Brownback amendments that further loosened legislative restrictions on India and Pakistan. Combined with a larger, more politically active Indian-American community, American business interests over the past seven or eight years have pushed the U.S. Congress to pay more attention to South Asia and, most strikingly, to foster a more cordial U.S.-Indian relationship.

New threats to American security

Security considerations have contributed as well to this newfound interest in U.S.-Indian partnership. For many years, most members of Congress saw the region primarily in terms of the Cold War competition with the Soviet Union. Pakistan was a valued ally, while India, for reasons most legislators found utterly inexplicable, was entirely too cozy with Moscow. With the disappearance of the Soviet threat, however, congressional anxieties have increasingly centered on two other potential challenges to American security: China and Islamic fundamentalism. The result has been a shift in attitudes toward India and Pakistan.

Confronted with the grim scenes from Tiananmen Square at the very moment the Cold War was coming to a close, many members of Congress, both conservatives and liberals, almost effortlessly replaced their concerns about a Soviet threat to American ideals and interests with similar worries about the People's Republic of China. In the eyes of some, India took on a new importance as a hedge against a China turned aggressive. Others asked if the world's largest democracy and its most powerful democracy did not share a value system fundamentally at odds with that espoused by the communist regime in Beijing. Brownback, for one, is outspoken in his criticism of the manner in which the Clinton administration has handled relations with China and India. The White House, he charged in a speech to the U.S.-India Business Council in June 1999, has consistently rewarded China, "a country that has openly and continually challenged U.S. interests and values," while "first ignoring, and now punishing" India. "The inequity in this situation," he contended, "is both striking and counterintuitive. Why reward the country which is aggressively working against everything we stand for, and at the same time punish and blackmail a country with which we share basic values and interests?"

A growing concern about terrorism sponsored by radical Islamic groups matched this uneasiness about the future course of U.S. relations with China. And fears about Islamic terrorism served to promote anxieties about Muslim Pakistan and, in some quarters, new support for India. More and more, U.S. legislators equated Pakistan with an Islamic fundamentalism that, in their view, posed a serious threat to American interests at home and abroad. Islamabad's support for the anti-Indian insurgency in Kashmir and, even more, for the radical Taliban in Afghanistan only reinforced such concerns.

Congressional backing for Israel entered into the equation as well. Some of Israel's friends on the Hill voiced concern that Pakistan might share its nuclear know-how with Iran or other Arab states hostile to Israel. Shortly after Pakistan's nuclear tests, a group of legislators circulated news reports highlighting a visit to Pakistan by Iran's foreign minister, and pointedly speculated whether the trip, coming on the heels of Islamabad's nuclear tests, was mere coincidence. "We believe it is vital for the Congress to learn the full story about Pakistan's nuclear weapons program and any possible illegal transfers of information and technology to Iran," they wrote. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) warned his House colleagues that "Pakistan's decision to test a nuclear weapon has raised the frightening specter of an 'Islamic bomb' being directed at Israel."<17>

Limits to U.S. Sanctions

The net effect of this rapid shift on sanctions policy toward South Asia is difficult to determine. At the most basic level, it is hard to escape the conclusion that U.S. non-proliferation policy toward South Asia-the policy of the executive branch as well as of the Congress-has utterly failed if success is defined as keeping nuclear weapons out of the region. A quarter century of American threats, blandishments and exhortations deterred neither India nor Pakistan from moving forward on a nuclear weapons program. The certainty of sanctions did not stop either country from conducting nuclear tests. And having crossed that nuclear Rubicon, neither New Delhi nor Islamabad was compelled to roll back its weapons program because of U.S. sanctions.

These bald judgments, however, demand qualification. The fact that U.S. policy ultimately failed to keep nuclear weapons out of South Asia does not mean that it was without impact. Absent U.S. opposition, India and Pakistan might well have accelerated their weapons programs. The South Asian nuclear race might have heated up far sooner, and with results far more dangerous, had the United States not invested considerable time, energy and diplomatic capital in trying to prevent the spread of nuclear weaponry to the subcontinent. In truth, definitively evaluating the success or failure of America's non-proliferation policies in South Asia is not as easy as it may first appear.

Moreover, in gauging the effectiveness of U.S. sanctions-both the threat and their actual imposition-in influencing the behavior of Islamabad and New Delhi, one must also recognize that the United States never attempted to wield the full force of its economic might. Glenn amendment sanctions were perhaps more notable for their gaps than their comprehensive nature. India, for instance, had been scheduled to receive $54.3 million in development assistance in fiscal year 1998. Of this total, $36.3 million was for activities exempt from the Glenn amendment sanctions-child survival projects, health and family planning programs, environmental projects, and related programs. U.S. food aid to India, which totaled approximately $92 million a year, was also permitted under the Glenn amendment. Ultimately, India lost only $12 million in direct aid and $9 million in housing loan guarantees from its 1998 aid package, and $4-5 million in deobligations from money appropriated in earlier years. Even U.S. opposition to World Bank loans was hedged, as Clinton administration officials argued that the ban did not extend to humanitarian assistance. Pakistan similarly escaped many of the more draconian aspects of a full aid cutoff.<18> For all the hue and cry about inflexible sanctions, the Glenn amendment proved remarkably flexible.

In part, this reluctance to use all the means at its disposal to wreck the economies of India and Pakistan reflected a U.S. recognition that as important as non-proliferation was, the United States had other critical interests in South Asia that deserved protection as well. India and Pakistan occupy a strategic corner of the globe, and regional instability could threaten American political and security interests in the Middle East, central Asia and the Indian Ocean. Important U.S. economic interests required safeguarding. Washington sought to promote economic development for the region and to address pressing social needs. Good governance and the strengthening of democratic institutions were key American objectives. Fostering regional cooperation and combating terrorism and narcotics trafficking were other priorities. In other words, no one objective, no matter how worthy, was so vital as to justify jeopardizing Washington's ability to pursue its many interests in the region.

Pakistan's precarious political and economic situation also placed limits on how hard Washington could lean on Islamabad. Ever mindful of the fact that an economic or political collapse in Pakistan might contribute to the rise of Islamic radicalism, U.S. officials drew back from actions that might push Pakistan over the edge. Augmenting these fears, moreover, was the concern that an impoverished Islamabad might look for ready cash by selling its nuclear technology to Iran or other "rogue" nations, thereby contributing to the very proliferation Washington sought to block.

Finally, the refusal of the international community to follow the American lead in imposing penalties on India and Pakistan undercut the impact of U.S. sanctions and reduced congressional incentives for plugging the loopholes in the American sanctions regime. Japan and several European nations did suspend loans and grants or apply other economic sanctions following the May 1998 tests, but like U.S. sanctions, the global regime was noteworthy more for its exceptions than its inclusiveness.

This combination of circumstances has led most South Asian experts-though not necessarily non-proliferation specialists-to conclude that a U.S. policy built around the threat or use of sanctions has failed to advance the American national interest.<19> This judgment reflects the congressional consensus as well. In a speech on April 3, 1999, Representative Gary Ackerman (D-NY), who had replaced Pallone as the Democratic co-chair of the Indian caucus earlier that year, spoke for many of his congressional colleagues when he observed, "Sanctions are too blunt a weapon to be used by us against a sister democracy such as India. Sanctions aren't good for India; and they aren't good for America either."

Not even new Indian and Pakistani provocations slowed Capitol Hill's headlong repudiation of sanctions. The publication by India in mid-1999 of a draft nuclear doctrine envisioning the creation of a nuclear triad of air-, sea- and ground-launched nuclear weapons-a plan roundly condemned by the Clinton administration and a handful of legislators-had absolutely no effect on congressional support for Brownback II. Instead, India partisans such as Pallone took the publication of the draft doctrine as another indication of New Delhi's transparency and political maturity. India, Pallone insisted, had good reason to seek a credible deterrent, considering the provocations of Pakistan and China.<20>

Similarly, Pakistan's reckless involvement in and responsibility for the Kargil incursion, which in the summer of 1999 briefly revived fears of a full-scale conflict between South Asia's nuclear-armed rivals, failed to derail congressional approval for Brownback II. Tests of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles by both countries went largely unnoticed on the Hill. Finally, the October 1999 coup in Islamabad did not halt the drive to free Pakistan from Pressler as well as Glenn amendment restrictions. Congress, it would seem, was hell-bent on lifting sanctions on its South Asian friends, come what may.

The Sanctions Paradox

Given the remarkable backpedaling that so rapidly followed the imposition of the Glenn amendment sanctions, one might reasonably ask why Congress adopted legislation mandating such sanctions in the first place. Few regional specialists believe Washington's nuclear-related sanctions have worked. Most contend that congressional legislation has produced faulty policy based on a failure to understand South Asia's regional dynamics. Sanctions, many would add, have even been counterproductive to the achievement of U.S. non-proliferation objectives. So has the South Asian experience disillusioned Congress about the utility of sanctions as a foreign policy tool?

On the contrary, there has been a dramatic increase in sanctions legislation in recent years. From a congressional perspective, sanctions and the threat of sanctions are not the illogical or misinformed initiatives many foreign policy experts assume. Such measures meet various congressional needs. First, they give Congress a voice in determining U.S. foreign policy, in a sphere in which the executive branch wields most of the power. To complain, therefore, that sanctions are a blunt instrument, as many critics do, misses the point. They are better than no instrument at all.

Second, sanctions can represent a legitimate effort to warn foreign governments not to take particular actions or cross certain lines. Few people in 1985 thought that the Pressler amendment would ever be triggered. Its principal purpose was to caution Islamabad not to push its nuclear development too far.

Third, sanctions sometimes reflect a congressional distrust of the executive branch. Congress might legislate non-proliferation sanctions, for instance, because it believes that the White House is not giving this issue sufficient priority.

Finally, the enactment of sanctions can serve political or partisan needs. By including a presidential waiver in sanctions legislation, Congress can in effect have it both ways. Legislators can appear to be taking a tough stand on an issue while actually placing ultimate responsibility upon the president for imposing sanctions and for the negative consequences the sanctions might produce.

Although South Asian developments suggest that some members of Congress have now begun to rethink the wisdom of this wholesale reliance on sanctions, particularly those of a unilateral nature, legislation threatening sanctions meets too many congressional needs to be removed from the legislative arsenal in the near future. Indeed, in the very month that Clinton imposed Glenn amendment sanctions on India and Pakistan, the House adopted the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, which by some estimates could result in new sanctions on as many as 75 countries.<21>

So we are left with something of a paradox. Congress appears to have little stomach for maintaining sanctions against India or Pakistan, either to punish them for their tests, to coerce them into reversing the direction of their nuclear programs, or more generally, to send a message to other nuclear threshold states that may be tempted to emulate the Indian and Pakistani examples. Nor does the Hill appear prepared to hold out for a deal in which the United States would lift sanctions in exchange for specific Indian or Pakistani steps short of a complete nuclear rollback, such as signing and ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Legislators are unwilling to pay the domestic price sanctions frequently entail, particularly since sanctions hold no assurance of success in achieving U.S. non-proliferation objectives. Members, moreover, have a legitimate fear that a punitive approach toward Islamabad and New Delhi will preclude the achievement of other important U.S. objectives in South Asia, strain Washington's relations with friends and allies, or push Pakistan over the precipice into the clutches of Islamic radicalism.

Nonetheless, members of Congress will almost certainly continue to insist on their right and responsibility to exercise a voice in the conduct of the nation's foreign policies, as indeed they should. With different political constituencies and constitutional duties than the president, they will frequently disagree with the executive in their definition of the national interest, and in their judgments as to the best means for preserving and promoting that interest. And they will remain attracted by the apparent advantages sanctions legislation offers.

So the paradox is likely to remain, recalling the old adage that everybody wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die. Congress will continue to encroach upon the executive's freedom of action, to mandate sanctions-and to recoil at the consequences. U.S. policy, in short, is likely to replay the strange gyrations that marked congressional efforts in 1998 and 1999 to fashion a policy to meet both the new nuclear realities of South Asia and the new political realities of Washington. Whether American policy will also advance the global non-proliferation agenda is rather more in doubt.


NOTES

1. Edward Markey, draft letter to President Clinton, May 12, 1998; Dan Burton, Dear Colleague letter, May 12, 1998; Tom Harkin, Congressional Record, May 12, 1998, p. S4680.

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2.Congressional Record, May 12, 1998, p. H3081; Eliza Newlin Carney, "Another Kind of Arms Race," National Journal, June 6, 1998, p. 1306.

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3. Jim Abrams, "Asia: U.S. Says Situation Serious, Calls for Global Efforts," Associated Press, June 1, 1998.

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4. Richard Lugar, Dear Colleague letter, June 4, 1998.

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5. Robert Smith, Congressional Quarterly, June 6, 1998, p. 1544; Mitch McConnell, Congressional Quarterly, July 11, 1998, p. 1891.

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6. Tom Raum, "Senate Panel to Study Effectiveness of U.S. Sanctions," Associated Press, June 27, 1998.

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7.Congressional Quarterly, July 11, 1998, p. 1891.

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8. In addition, the legislation permanently removed medicines, medical equipment and fertilizer from the application of sanctions.

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9. Public Law 105-194, the Agriculture Export Relief Act. U.S. wheat farmers won the contract.

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10.Congressional Record, July 15, 1998, p. S8184.

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11. The export control provision of this measure was even more startling for coming at a time when congressional Republicans were inflamed over possibly illegal transfers to China that might have assisted Beijing's missile development efforts.

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12. Sharon M. Lee, "Asian Americans: Diverse and Growing," Population Bulletin, June 1998; Karen Isaksen Leonard, The South Asian Americans (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1997). The author is indebted to Joanna Yu for her research assistance in compiling these statistics.

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13. Author interview with Senator Sam Brownback, August 3, 1999.

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14. Carney, "Another Kind of Arms Race," p. 1306.

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15. Brownback interview.

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16. Barbara Leitch LePoer, et al., "India-Pakistan Nuclear Tests and U.S. Response," CRS Report for Congress, November 24, 1998, p. 35; Brownback interview.

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17. Gary Ackerman, et al., Dear Colleague letter, June 11, 1998; Robert Menendez, Dear Colleague letter, June 16, 1998.

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18. LePoer, et al., pp. 22-26.

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19. See, for example, Richard N. Haass and Gideon Rose, eds., A New U.S. Policy Toward India and Pakistan (New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1997); and Richard N. Haass and Morton H. Halperin, eds., After the Tests: U.S. Policy Toward India and Pakistan (New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1998).

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20. Aziz Haniffa, "Pallone Hails New Delhi's Transparency," India Abroad, August 27, 1999.

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21. Public Law 105-292.

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U.S. Sanctions Russian Entities for Iranian Dealings

 Howard Diamond

AGAINST A BACKDROP of deteriorating U.S.-Russian relations, the Clinton administration on January 12 announced the imposition of economic sanctions on three Russian entities for sharing nuclear and missile technology with Iran. National Security Adviser Samuel Berger announced the sanctions on the Moscow Aviation Institute, the Mendeleyev University of Chemical Technology, and the Scientific Research and Design Institute of Power Technology (known as NIKIET) at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's annual non-proliferation conference in Washington. "The administration has authority to act against entities that violate international nonproliferation standards," stated Berger, "and we will use this authority to protect our security."

The sanctions, which indefinitely block all trade with, U.S. government assistance to, or U.S. government procurement from the three entities, were applied under a July 1998 executive order that broadened the range of both sanctionable activities and sanctions. In that month the Clinton administration sanctioned seven other Russian entities as part of a successful effort to block sanctions legislation in Congress that the administration regarded as excessively rigid. (See ACT, June/July 1998.)

Moscow, already angered over U.S. air strikes on Iraq in December, harshly criticized the U.S. announcement, with Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov describing Washington's decision as "counterproductive to U.S.-Russian relations." A Foreign Ministry statement on January 14 declared the U.S. allegations "completely groundless" and said the three entities' activities are "fully consistent with Russia's domestic legislation and its international obligations in the area of missile and nuclear non-proliferation." On January 23, however, First Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Maslyukov, Russia's economics chief, was quoted in The Washington Post as saying, "Some of the cases [the Americans] have presented turned out to be true."

State Department spokesman James Rubin acknowledged on January 13 that initial Russian efforts to prevent illicit technology transfers—including the adoption in January 1998 of a "catch-all" export rule—had produced "a significant amount of success." However, said Rubin, "movement in the right direction has stopped, and there has been a steady deterioration in this area."

Ambassador Robert Gallucci, the U.S. special envoy for non-proliferation, said at the Carnegie conference that Moscow has failed to prosecute either the seven firms previously sanctioned by Washington or two other firms named by Moscow in July 1998 as being under investigation.

In December 1998 a U.S. delegation led by Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott went to Moscow to press for stronger enforcement of Russia's non-proliferation commitments. At the time, Rubin warned that failure by Moscow to crack down on missile technology transfers to Iran would prevent the United States from raising the quota of U.S. satellites that can be launched on Russian rockets from 16 to 27. Each launch is worth between $40 and $100 million.

Two of the newly sanctioned entities, NIKIET and Mendeleyev University, are alleged to have provided technology helpful to Iran's drive to acquire nuclear weapons. NIKIET was previously run by Minister of Atomic Energy Yevgeny Adamov, a strong advocate of civil nuclear cooperation with Iran. Moscow agreed in 1995 to complete Iran's 1,000-megawatt light-water Bushehr nuclear power plant for $800 million, but at the request of the United States promised not to sell Iran uranium enrichment or spent fuel reprocessing technology. Adamov traveled to Tehran in November 1998 to discuss accelerating construction of the Bushehr reactor and possibly building an additional three reactors at the site.

A December 15 story in The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. intelligence community believes Russian entities are trying to sell Tehran a 40-megawatt heavy water research reactor and a uranium conversion facility, while Russian scientists are alleged to be advising Iran on how to produce heavy water and nuclear-grade graphite. Coupled with technology for reprocessing spent fuel to extract plutonium, these technologies could enable Iran to produce one or two bombs' worth of fissile material per year.

The Moscow Aviation Institution, the third sanctioned entity, is alleged to have provided assistance in flight control for Iran's ballistic missile program. Addressing the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 2, CIA Director George Tenet stated that "Russia has continued to assist the Iranian missile effort" and that "Iran will continue to seek longer range missiles and to seek foreign assistance in their development." The CIA's biannual report, "Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction," said that Iran has begun production of its 1,300-kilometer-range Shahab-3 missile, first flight-tested in July 1998.

Yet Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani said on February 7 that the Shahab-3 will be the "last military missile Iran will produce." According to Shamkhani, the Shahab-4, which is alleged to have a range of 2,000 kilometers and may be based on the Soviet SS-4, will be used only as a space-launch vehicle.

NMD Bill Stalled in Senate; New Bill Introduced in House

FOR THE SECOND time this year, on September 9, Senate Republicans fell only one vote short of forcing a floor vote on the "American Missile Protection Act of 1998." The bill (S. 1873), introduced in March by Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), states that it is U.S. policy "to deploy as soon as is technologically possible an effective National Missile Defense [NMD] system capable of defending the territory of the United States against limited ballistic missile attack (whether accidental, unauthorized, or deliberate)." Even though all 55 Senate Republicans and four Democrats—Daniel Akaka (HI), Ernest Hollings (SC), Daniel Inouye (HI) and Joseph Lieberman (CT)—voted to end debate on the Cochran bill and bring it up for a floor vote, the measure failed because 60 votes are required for a motion of cloture.

Earlier, on August 5, Representative Curt Weldon (R-PA) introduced a one-sentence bill stating "That it is the policy of the United States to deploy a national missile defense." Because the Weldon bill (H.R. 4402) does not contain the controversial language that created problems for earlier bills, such as a specific date for NMD deployment, it has already gained 63 co-sponsors, including 24 Democrats. The Clinton administration, which thus far has only committed the United States to the development of an NMD system, has not yet officially commented on the new bill, which may come up for a floor vote before the House adjourns in October.

 

The Cochran Bill

On May 13, the Senate defeated a motion of cloture on the Cochran bill by a vote of 59-41. (See ACT, May 1998.) Since then, a series of key domestic and international events inspired Senate Republicans to bring S. 1873 up again. On July 15, the Rumsfeld Commission concluded that the United States may have "little or no warning" before facing a long-range ballistic missile threat from so-called "rogue states," such as North Korea, Iran and Iraq. Just one week later, on July 22, Iran tested its 1,300-kilometer-range Shahab-3, which will be capable of reaching Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Then, on August 31, North Korea tested the Taepo Dong-1, which, with its range of 1,500 to 2,000 kilometers, could strike targets throughout Japan. In the September 9 floor debate on the Cochran bill, Senate Republicans pointed to these events as evidence that the ballistic missile threat is growing and that the United States must now deploy an NMD system.

The 41 Democrats who voted against cloture countered by citing an August 24 letter to Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) by General Henry Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, challenging the Rumsfeld Commission's assessment of the missile threat. Shelton wrote, "[The Chiefs and I] remain confident that the Intelligence Community can provide the necessary warning of the indigenous development and deployment by a rogue state of an ICBM threat to the United States." Furthermore, he stated that rogue states are "unlikely" to acquire an ICBM capability in a short period of time through foreign assistance and high-risk development programs while avoiding detection by the intelligence community. Shelton argued that rogue nations might also employ "unconventional, terrorist-style delivery means" in an attack against the United States and that the United States should address the full range of possible threats.

Accordingly, Shelton reiterated his support for the administration's "3+3" program, under which the United States is developing an NMD system by 2000 that could be deployed by 2003 if three criteria have been met: a specific missile threat has been identified, the technology has proven to be effective and the system is deemed affordable. If the United States decides not to deploy an NMD system in 2000, it will continue to refine the elements of its system, always remaining three years away from actual deployment.

 

The Weldon Bill

In an August 5 press conference, proponents of the Weldon bill charged that the administration is using the "3+3" program to conceal its opposition to NMD deployment. Calling instead for a commitment now to deploy an NMD system, they argued that this would send a clear signal to Russia that the United States is serious about missile defense and might also deter rogue states from expending the vast resources necessary to acquire ballistic missiles capable of reaching U.S. territory.

H.R. 4402 is likely to pass because it seeks to find a common ground between those who favor immediate NMD deployment and those who prefer a more cautious approach. Unlike Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott's "National Missile Defense Act of 1997," the Weldon bill does not mandate NMD deployment by a certain date. Weldon's bill also does not identify a specific NMD architecture, does not base a deployment decision solely on the technical feasibility of the system (as does the Cochran bill) and is silent on the issue of U.S. compliance with the ABM Treaty.

Clinton Vetoes Sanctions Bill; Sets, Imposes New Sanctions on Russia

Howard Diamond

HOPING TO avert an override of President Bill Clinton's June 23 veto of a bill to sanction entities aiding Iran's ballistic missile program, the White House announced on July 15 that it would impose new proliferation-related sanctions on seven Russian firms for transfers to Iran and other countries. The U.S. decision followed a Russian announcement earlier that day naming nine companies to be investigated (including the seven targeted for sanctions) by a new Export Control Commission for violations of Russian export control laws. Following the U.S. and Russian announcements, the House of Representatives postponed an override vote scheduled for July 17. Congress will reconsider a vote when it returns from summer recess the second week of September.

The Clinton administration has been seeking ways to cut off the flow of missile technology from Russian firms to Iran since January 1997. Russia's latest attempt to strengthen its export control system came on July 19, when President Boris Yeltsin signed into law new regulations on military-technical cooperation with foreign states. Under pressure from the United States, Moscow adopted a "catch-all" decree in January to regulate exports of all technology usable in weapons of mass destruction. Two additional presidential orders followed in May requiring Russian exporters to determine the end-use of their products, and to give overall regulatory authority for the Russian commercial space industry to the Russian Space Agency. Each of the Russian decrees occurred just ahead of scheduled congressional action on the Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act, which administration officials repeatedly warned would be vetoed.

After several delays at the administration's request, the Senate approved the sanctions bill on May 22. (See ACT, May 1998.) On June 9, the House adopted the Senate's version of the bill, which also contained the implementing legislation for U.S. obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention. Both chambers adopted the legislation by overwhelming—ostensibly veto-proof—margins (392-22 in the House and 90-4 in the Senate).

In his June 24 veto message to Congress, Clinton asserted that the bill set too low an evidentiary standard for imposing sanctions and could result in indiscriminate punishment, thus diminishing U.S. credibility in seeking cooperation on non-proliferation from other governments. The president pointed out that the automatic application of sanctions called for in the bill would hurt U.S. diplomatic efforts to work with supplier states, particularly Russia, on improving their own export-enforcement mechanisms. Clinton also cited steps that have been taken by Moscow as evidence of the success of the administration's approach that would be jeopardized by the proposed legislation.

On July 28, the administration announced the issuance of a new executive order (No. 13094) that broadens the range of both sanctionable activities and of sanctions. The new order, which amends a 1994 executive order (No. 12938) that authorized the imposition of sanctions for proliferation of chemical and biological weapons technology, now covers technology for nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction. The amended order will no longer require a finding that a foreign person "knowingly and materially" contributed to sanctionable activity. Now, only a material contribution is necessary to invoke sanctions, dropping the standard that exporters have knowledge of the end-use of their products. In addition, the new order allows the imposition of sanctions in the event of an attempted transfer, instead of only when a transfer has occurred. The amended order also expands the list of possible sanctions by including a ban on U.S. government assistance to the entity.

In his July 28 message to Congress on the new order, Clinton said the amendment gives the United States "greater flexibility and discretion in deciding how and to what extent" to impose penalties. Under the new guidelines, the secretary of state will take into account "the likely effectiveness of such measures in furthering the interests of the United States and the costs and benefits of such measures" when deciding whether to impose sanctions.

Utilizing the authority of the new executive order (which became effective July 29), a July 29 revision of the Commerce Department's "Entity List" (naming foreign end-users involved in proliferation activities), and provisions of the Arms Export Control Act and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, the Clinton administration imposed sanctions on Baltic State Technical University, Europalace 2000, Glavkosmos, Grafit, INOR Scientific Center, MOSO Company, and Polyus Scientific Production Association. Each is barred indefinitely from all exports to the United States; all U.S. government assistance, procurement and contracts (including termination of all existing contracts and assistance); and importation of all defense items or defense services. The firms have also been added to the Entity List, requiring them to obtain a license for all products (not just dual-use and Munitions List items) imported from the United States—with a presumption of denial for all licenses. The two firms that are under investigation by Moscow but have not been sanctioned by Washington are the Tikhomirov Institute and the Komintern plant in Novosibirsk.

 

Iran Tests Shahab-3

On July 22—only days after Clinton announced his new sanctions policy—Iran flight tested its 1,300-kilometer-range Shahab-3 missile. The Shahab-3 is a liquid-fueled road-mobile missile that, according to the State Department, is "largely derived" from North Korean technology. Based on Pyongyang's 1,000–1,300-kilometer-range Nodong missile, the Shahab-3's rapid development has been widely ascribed to illicit transfers of Russian technology, materials and expertise. Iranian Defense Minister Rear-Admiral Ali Shamkhani, however, was quoted by Agence France-Presse on July 25 asserting the Shahab-3 was produced "entirely by Iran" and "without assistance." Iran is also believed to be developing a 2,000-kilometer-range missile known as the Shahab-4, which is believed to incorporate technology from the Soviet SS-4.

If deployed, the Shahab-3 would give Tehran the ability to strike all of Israel and portions of Russia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Iran is already capable of producing Scud-B and -C missiles, which have ranges of 300 kilometers and 500 kilometers, respectively. Describing the test as a "worrisome development," Defense Department spokesman Kenneth Bacon said July 23 that "this was one test. It does not give them a capability." But coming on the heels of the Rumsfeld Commission report on the ballistic missile threat to the United States, the Iranian test is likely to energize missile defense advocates and undermine efforts to defend the president's veto.

Clinton Vetoes Sanctions Bill; Sets, Imposes New Sanctions on Russia

Senate Approves Sanctions Legislation Aimed at Russian-Iranian Missile Cooperation

May 1998

By Howard Diamond

Signaling its dissatisfaction with the Clinton administration's efforts to get Moscow to rein in transfers of ballistic missile technology to Iran, the Senate on May 22 passed the Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act by a vote of 90-4. In the weeks prior to the Senate vote, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and national security advisor Samuel Berger warned of a presidential veto due to the measure's low evidentiary standard for imposing sanctions, and the anticipated negative effect on diplomatic efforts underway with Russia.

The House of Representatives adopted a nearly identical version of the bill on a voice vote in November 1997, and will now take up the Senate's version of the bill. The key difference between the House and Senate measures is an amendment by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) that made the bill's provisions effective for acts occurring after January 22, 1998, when former Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin issued a "catch-all" decree to provide additional control over proliferation-sensitive exports. Before Chernomyrdin issued the January decree, Russian officials had claimed that their ability to prevent technology transfers was limited by the absence of sufficient legal authority. The previous effective date in the sanctions bill was August 1995, which corresponded to Russia's entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

Moscow has been under pressure from the United States to control transfers of ballistic missile technology to Iran since January 1997, when reports of Russian involvement first emerged. Subsequently, news reports based on leaked intelligence have alleged that Russian firms have provided Tehran with key technology and technical assistance for missile engines, aerodynamic problem solving, wind-tunnel testing, special materials and metals, guidance system components, and solid rocket fuel development. The Russian Space Agency (RSA) and Moscow's Federal Security Service have also been accused of aiding in technology transfers, but U.S. officials have cleared the RSA of any wrong-doing.

Eight days before the Senate vote, Russian President Boris Yeltsin issued two new executive orders detailing how the January decree will be put into effect. The first of Yeltsin's decrees requires the creation of an export control unit in all Russian businesses dealing in nuclear or missile technology, and lays out procedures—including a list of so-called "red-flags"—to guide exporters on how to avoid illicit buyers. The second decree gives the RSA overall control and responsibility for Russia's policy on missile technology, including the ability to block sales by other government agencies and institutes to suspect end-users.

Russia's Foreign Ministry attacked the U.S. legislation on May 25, describing the measure as an attempt "to hamper legitimate trade and economic ties with Iran" under the cover of non-proliferation. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeniy Primakov warned on May 12 that if the United States imposed sanctions on Russian firms, chances for winning Duma ratification of START II would be set back.

 

The Legislation

The sanctions legislation requires the president to make a series of reports listing entities for which there is "credible evidence" showing assistance or attempted assistance in transferring ballistic missile components or technology to Iran. Unlike all other U.S. export control and non-proliferation measures, the Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act does not require an entity to be aware of its involvement in prohibited trade to be in jeopardy of punishment. Although sanctions on the entities listed in the president's reports are automatic, the president can waive the sanctions if he certifies that doing so is "essential to the national security," or if he produces additional information proving a party's innocence.

Sanctions under the new measure can also be avoided if an entity is being punished under another U.S. non-proliferation law or if the entity engaged in proscribed actions on behalf of the U.S. government. Sanctioned entities are ineligible for at least two years to either import dual-use or munitions list items, or to receive any form of U.S. government assistance. Additionally, the sanctions bill includes the implementation legislation for the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which will make a veto decision more difficult for the president. (See "CWC Implementing Legislation...".) Without passing the CWC legislation, the United States will be in technical non-compliance with its treaty obligations.

Tehran is believed to be developing two intermediate-range ballistic missiles: the 1,300-kilometer-range Shahab-3, based on the North Korean Nodong missile, and the 2,000-kilometer-range Shahab-4, based on the Soviet SS-4. The United States also believes that Iran is intent on acquiring nuclear weapons and is using civil nuclear technology as both a cover for illicit procurement activity and as a training ground for its nuclear specialists. Washington has persuaded China and Ukraine to end their civil nuclear commerce with Iran—which Tehran is entitled to as a non-nuclear-weapon state party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)—but has been unable to similarly convince Moscow.

Russia agreed in 1995 to complete for $850 million a 1,000-megawatt (electric) nuclear reactor in Iran at Bushehr that was left unfinished by the German company Siemens following Iran's Islamic revolution in 1979. Under pressure from the Clinton administration, in May 1995 Yeltsin agreed to limit the scope of Russia's nuclear cooperation with Iran to exclude provision of additional reactors, assistance with uranium mining or enrichment, and technology for spent fuel reprocessing.

In March, however, Russian and Iranian officials reached an agreement in principle to build two additional reactors at Bushehr, which Moscow believes are allowable within its 1995 commitment. According to the March 7 New York Times, work on the additional reactors would not begin until the first reactor is completed in 2001. Tehran also agreed to give Russia greater control over the construction at Bushehr, which has been plagued by engineering and financial delays.

On April 6, Russian Atomic Energy Minister Yevgeniy Adamov announced he would urge Russia's government to support a 1996 agreement with Iran to build a research reactor using low-enriched uranium fuel. Adamov suggested in light of signs of improvement in U.S.-Iranian relations, delay could result in Washington stealing the research reactor deal.

A delegation of Iranian officials led by Gholam Reza Agazadeh, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization met with Adamov in mid-May to discuss accelerating progress on the Bushehr reactor project. Adamov was cited by Radio Free Europe as saying during a May 11 interview that he had no doubt that Iran is trying to acquire the potential to produce nuclear weapons, but he insisted that the technology being transferred by Russia could not be misused for that purpose.

Senate Approves Sanctions Legislation Aimed at Russian-Iranian Missile Cooperation

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