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Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
April 15, 2019

Russian Export Controls Fail to Stop Steel for Iranian Missile Program

April 1998

By Howard Diamond

Russia announced on April 7 that its Federal Security Service (FSB) had arrested three foreign citizens in connection with the attempted transfer of 22 tons of special alloy steel reportedly destined for Iran's ballistic missile development effort. Discrepancies in export documents accompanying the metal led Azerbaijani customs officials in the town of Astara (near the Iranian border) to impound the shipment on March 25. Employees of the Moscow warehouse where the shipment began claimed the steel "had been acquired from abroad," according to an April 8 FSB statement.

The incident again raises questions about Russia's ability to enforce its own export laws, including the "catch-all" export decree issued in January by former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. According to a State Department official, the steel falls "just on the other side" of the material restrictions in the Missile Technology Control Regime's (MTCR) technical annex, but remains controlled under the January "catch-all" provision because of its intended end-use.

Azerbaijan gave a sample of the steel to the United States for analysis which confirmed the material to be a specialized corrosion-resistant alloy suitable for use in fuel tanks for liquid-fueled missiles such as Iran is reported to be developing. On April 28, State Department spokesman James Foley said in spite of "significant progress over the last few months" in ending Russian cooperation with Iran's missile program, "[W]e believe important work remains to be done. We don't believe the file is closed."

According to an April 25 report in The New York Times, U.S. intelligence officials passed information describing the impending steel transfer to Moscow several days before the truck carrying the shipment began its trip to Iran. However, Russian authorities maintain that the intelligence lacked enough specificity to enable them to intervene. The New York Times reported the individuals subsequently arrested by the FSB were from Tajikistan.

Russian entities are believed to be a key source of advanced technology for Tehran's 1,300-kilometer-range Shahab-3 and 2,000-kilometer-range Shahab-4 missile programs. CIA Director George Tenet testified in January that Russian missile-related transfers have reduced the completion time of Tehran's programs which already acquired significant technical assistance from the North Korean Nodong missile program to only two or three years. Since January 1997, Russian firms are alleged to have provided Iran with special materials, wind-tunnel testing equipment, missile engine and guidance technology, and various types of advanced aerospace training and expertise. The FSB has even been alleged to have arranged exchanges of Russian and Iranian missile experts.

The State Department confirmed on April 16, that in March it circulated to U.S. government program managers a list of 20 Russian companies and entities believed to be connected with Iran's missile development effort that must now receive special permission from the State Department in order to proceed with joint non-proliferation projects.

The United States currently has in place two programs the Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention through the Energy Department, and the International Science and Technology Centers (in Russia and Ukraine) organized by the State Department that arrange non-military cooperative projects to keep former Soviet weapons experts engaged in peaceful activites.

Under the new guidelines, program proposals involving any of the 20 firms will be reviewed by the State Department to "[ensure] that assistance is not provided to entities that may be engaged in activities of proliferation concern," said State Department spokesman James P. Rubin on April 16. Since March, three projects have been denied funding according to USA Today which first reported the list on April 16. The three canceled projects included the Baltic State Technical University in St. Petersburg, TsAGI (Russia's Central Aerodynamic Institute), and the Moscow Aviation Institute.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) has scheduled a vote in late May on a bill that would impose sanctions on any entity that assists Iran's missile program. The House passed the measure, which also contains the implementing legislation for U.S. obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention, on a voice vote in November 1997. The Clinton administration, which believes the sanctions bill uses too low an evidentiary standard and would interfere with diplomatic efforts, has promised to veto the measure. In response to the news about the steel blocked in Azerbaijan, Lott told The New York Times the Senate would adopt the sanctions bill "if there's not major progress made in the next 30 days."

Russian Export Controls Fail to Stop Steel for Iranian Missile Program

U.S., Russia Take New Steps to Control Technology Transfers to Iran

March 1998

By Howard Diamond

With the threat of congressionally imposed sanctions on Russia hanging over their discussions, Vice President Al Gore and Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin agreed to increase bilateral efforts to prevent Russian ballistic missile and other types of dangerous technology from leaking to Iran. Meeting in Washington March 10 and 11 for the 10th meeting of the so-called Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission (GCC), the two leaders agreed to deploy "joint teams" to monitor the implementation of the "catch-all" executive order issued by Chernomyrdin in January to block the transfer of technology for weapons of mass destruction not specifically regulated in Russian laws. (See ACT, January/February 1998.)

Gore told reporters, "By working together on export controls on weapons, weapons materials, and dual-use goods, I believe we can—and we will—strengthen existing international non-proliferation regimes and promote regional stability." Gore also described Russia's policy on non-proliferation as "exactly correct."

The Clinton administration has been pressing Moscow to crack down on transfers of Russian ballistic missile expertise and technology to Iran since January 1997. CIA Director George Tenet testified in January that due to acquisition of Russian technology, the estimated deployment dates of Iran's two medium-range missiles in development, the 1,300-kilometer Shahab-3 and the 2,000-kilometer Shahab-4, have been moved up from 10 years or less, to only two or three years.

Since July 1997, Washington has tried to improve cooperation with Moscow in preventing missile technology transfers by sharing intelligence in meetings between U.S. special envoy Frank Wisner and Yuri Koptev, chief of the Russian Space Agency. Wisner's fifth meeting with Koptev took place one week before the March GCC meeting and included Robert Gallucci (negotiator of the 1994 U.S.-North Korean Agreed Framework), who is replacing Wisner.

Although U.S. officials claim the intelligence-swapping sessions together with increased Russian enforcement efforts are making a difference, reports of on-going cooperation between Russian firms—and allegedly even Moscow's intelligence service—and Iran's missile development program continue to surface. Moscow's Federal Security Service was reported by The Washington Times in February o be involved in arranging exchanges of Russian and Iranian missile experts. A subsequent Washington Post story on March 23, citing Russian sources, reported that Moscow will end the intelligence service's role in procuring Russian missile specialists for Tehran.

In addition to providing information through the Wisner-Koptev mechanism, Washington has pushed Moscow to adopt the "catch-all" controls issued by Chernomyrdin in January. Moscow had previously claimed that the gaps in Russian export control laws provided Iran and Russian firms with loopholes they used to export sensitive missile technologies.

The new "catch-all" measure requires Russian businesses to cooperate with Moscow in preventing sales of material and technology where there is reason to believe the sale could lead to proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons or ballistic missiles. U.S. officials have praised the "catch-all" decree as an important step in the right direction, but have insisted that its true value will depend on its implementation.

U.S. concern about how the decree is put into effect spurred the new arrangement on "joint work pursuant to export controls." The latest Gore-Chernomyrdin agreement will allow U.S. officials to be involved in Russian efforts to improve their export control system. Specifically, Washington is planning to share software and hardware used in the United States to prevent proliferation-sensitive exports.

While continuing to insist it has done nothing wrong, Moscow faces two substantial incentives to cooperate with Washington. First, Congress is near passing the "Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act," which would effectively bar U.S.-Russian cooperation on the $21 billion international space station and impose penalties on Russian firms that have been linked to Tehran's missile program. The Journal of Commerce reported on February 27 that, at the request of the CIA, a provision was added to the sanctions act that exempts from sanctions any foreign entity that "has engaged in a transfer or transaction, or made an attempt, on behalf of, or in concert with, the government of the United States." The sanctions measure, which passed the House on a voice vote in November and has 82 Senate co-sponsors, has been held up in the Senate in order to give the Clinton administration time to make progress at the March Gore-Chernomyrdin meeting.

The Senate's forbearance, however, may not last. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ben Nighthorse Cambell (R-CO), together with 45 colleagues, sent Gore a letter prior to his meeting with Chernomyrdin specifying steps they expect Russia to take in order to hold off the sanctions bill. The senators' letter called for a public campaign by Moscow against transfers of dangerous technology, the arrest of Russians and Iranians involved in such deals, and passage of new export control laws by the Duma.

In addition to the stick of sanctions, U.S. officials are also holding up the carrot of increasing the number of foreign satellites that can be launched on Russian rockets. In 1996, Moscow and Washington agreed to limits on the use of Russian boosters to protect U.S. space companies. Since then, U.S. firms have embraced international consortiums as a model for the space industry and are now pushing to increase the use of Russian launchers for commercial satellites. Last year, 18 of Russia's 48 satellite launches carried payloads for U.S. firms, each worth $60 million to $100 million. Just prior to the GCC meeting, U.S. officials briefed reporters on Washington's willingness to reconsider the quotas on Russian launch vehicles, but cautioned that progress on the space issue would depend on Russia's ability to control transfers of missile technology to Iran.

U.S., Russia Take New Steps to Control Technology Transfers to Iran

Russia Issues New Export Decree To Stem Missile Transfers to Iran

By Howard Diamond

Following a A year of steady high-level U.S. diplomatic pressure, Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on January 22, issued a new "catch-all" regulation to cut off the flow of Russian technology and materials to Iran's ballistic missile development effort. The edict will—if fully implemented—close an important gap in Russian export laws and regulations that Iran has used to acquire technologies not explicitly listed for control, according to an administration official. The decree, which took effect immediately, could also provide the Clinton administration with the leverage it needs to halt congressional efforts to sanction Moscow for past transfers of missile technology.

The new regulation requires Russian businesses to forgo transactions of dual-use nuclear, chemical, biological or missile technology or services when they know or have reason to know of a proliferation end-use, and report to Moscow all proposed contracts of restricted dual-use materials and technology. The decree is similar to parts of the 1991 Enhanced Proliferation Control Initiative (EPCI) in the United States and like measures in other countries that require industry cooperation in controlling potentially dangerous exports. Such measures, however, depend heavily on government efforts to advise businesses of customers to avoid, as well as the willingness of companies to abstain from illegal but often lucrative deals.

The U.S. official said that over the long term, the effectiveness of the decree will depend on whether Moscow puts up the money to support a solid export control regime—something the United States will be watching closely. He added that Moscow appears to be taking new steps to end the transfer of missile technology by limiting access for Iranian students to advanced aerospace training and warning both Russian companies and Tehran that leaks of Russian ballistic missile technology will not be tolerated.

The Clinton administration has made stopping Tehran's drive to acquire nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, as well as ballistic missiles for their delivery, one of its highest priorities, and has won pledges from both Russia and China to either cut off or limit their cooperation with Iran. Beijing has promised Washington that it will end its nuclear cooperation and sales of anti-ship cruise missiles to Iran. (See page 30.) Moscow, on the other hand, while pledging not to sell weapons or nuclear enrichment and reprocessing technologies to Iran, has rejected White House requests not to finish the German-origin 1,000-megawatt (electric) light-water reactor project at Bushehr on the Iranian coast.

Iran's Missile Efforts

Washington believes Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons in spite of its membership as a non-nuclear-weapon state in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and is concerned Tehran is now developing missiles that could deliver nuclear warheads. News reports based on U.S. intelligence claim Tehran is trying to produce two types of medium-range missiles: the 1,300-kilometer Shahab-3, based on the North Korean Nodong missile, with a 750-kilogram payload; and the 2,000-kilometer Shahab-4, alleged to be based on the Soviet SS-4 missile, with a 1,000-kilogram payload.

CIA Director George Tenet told the Senate Intelligence Committee on January 28 that much of Iran's progress in moving up the deployment dates for the two missiles—from the 1997 estimate of 10 years or less to the current estimate of only two or three years—is due to assistance from Russian companies. Leaked U.S. and Israeli intelligence reports have suggested widespread Russian cooperation with Iran on engine technology, guidance systems and special materials, and have named several entities including Rosvoorouzhenie, the state arms-export agency; the Bauman Institute, an advanced technical education center; the companies NPO Trud, Polyus and Inor; as well as the Russian Space Agency (RSA) and its director, Yuri Koptev.

Koptev's name has sparked special concern because he has been leading the Russian side in bilateral efforts to address U.S. concerns about the missile technology leaks. According to the administration official, however, the accusations about him and the RSA are not accurate. Koptev's and the RSA's involvement with Iran, he said, has been limited to discussions of peaceful space cooperation and satellites.

Since July 1997, Koptev has met four times with U.S. special envoy Ambassador Frank Wisner as part of an ongoing diplomatic mechanism to assess U.S. intelligence showing possible technology transfers to Tehran and to discuss ways of preventing them. Koptev told reporters on January 30 that out of 13 warnings, Washington's intelligence has produced only two cases in which Russian officials found illicit activities. Wisner's last visit to Moscow, on January 13, was described by U.S. officials as his most productive trip yet. Wisner is expected to make another trip to Russia prior to the March 9-11 meetings in Washington of the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission which has also been addressing the missile technology issue.

Signs of progress through the Wisner-Koptev mechanism and Moscow's recent promulgation of the export decree have put the Clinton administration in a delicate position with regard to punishing Russian entities for past cooperation with Iran's missile program. U.S. laws enforcing the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) require sanctions if entities in a member-state violate the regime's prohibition on selling missiles or missile technology for systems capable of delivering a 500 kilogram payload over 300 kilometers without the member-state taking adequate investigative or enforcement action. Sanctions could also be imposed under the EPCI at the president's choosing. According to the administration official, however, discretionary sanctions under the EPCI would be counterproductive. The administration has yet to make a determination with regard to the companies' legal culpability under U.S. sanctions laws.

Congressional Action

Its apparent reluctance to "get tough" on Moscow and impose sanctions has been critically received on Capitol Hill and has prompted new legislation aimed at sanctioning Russia. Prior to ending its last session on November 12, the House of Representatives adopted, by a voice vote, the Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act of 1997, intended to punish any entity that provides technology or assistance to Tehran's ballistic missile program.

Senate Democrats blocked a move to quickly adopt the House bill and, at the administration's request, the Senate has held off further consideration of the measure. According to one Hill staffer, even with 84 co-sponsors, Senate action on the measure is unlikely until after the GCC meeting in March in order to give the administration time to work with Moscow on concrete steps to stop the missile technology leaks.

In addition to sanctioning entities found to be assisting Tehran's missile program, the legislation also includes the implementation language for the Chemical Weapons Convention, making the bill harder for the president to veto. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and National Security Advisor Samuel Berger have already stated, however, that the president will not accept the measure as it now stands.

The administration's chief objections are that the proposed statute will undermine the diplomatic efforts that are showing signs of success and that, unlike other U.S. laws, the new sanctions bill doesn't require a high-standard of evidence or even an exporter's awareness of complicity in proliferation efforts to be liable for punishment. Sanctions would also have to be imposed within 30 days of receiving "credible evidence" of an entity's involvement in Iran's missile program, opening the possibility of sanctions being imposed erroneously. The bill does allow for a presidential waiver, but only where doing so is "essential to the national security of the United States."

Russia Issues New Export Decree To Stem Missile Transfers to Iran

U.S. Buys Moldovan Aircraft to Prevent Acquisition by Iran

THE UNITED STATES purchased 21 MiG 29 fighter aircraft from Moldova during October, pre empting Iran's efforts to acquire potential delivery systems for weapons of mass destruction. The capability of 14 of the Russian made aircraft to deliver nuclear weapons, although disputed by Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev, allowed the acquisition to be carried out under the Defense Department's Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program.

Under an agreement finalized on October 10, the United States acquired 14 MiG 29Cs, described by U.S. officials as wired to permit delivery of nuclear weapons, six MiG 29As, one MiG 29B, 500 air to air missiles and all the spare parts and diagnostic equipment present at the Moldovan air base where the aircraft were stationed. In return, Moldova will receive a cash payment, humanitarian assistance and non lethal excess defense articles such as trucks. Although the value of the package was not disclosed, Reuters reported on November 5 that Moldovan Finance Minister Valeriu Chitan said the cash payment equaled about $40 million. New aircraft of comparable capabilities cost approximately $20 million to $25 million apiece.

The MiG 29Cs would have qualitatively improved Iran's air force by providing it with a more advanced fighter than its older model MiG 29s, a goal Tehran has sought since the Gulf War. With about 30 Russian made Su 24s, a sophisticated low altitude bomber, and both Scud and Scud variant missiles, Iran already possesses other systems more suited to deliver nuclear weapons than the MiG 29Cs.

Moldova informed the United States in late 1996 of Iranian inquiries regarding the availability of the fighters and subsequently of an Iranian inspection of the aircraft. The Clinton administration, which considers Tehran to be vigorously pursuing the acquisition and development of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, initiated negotiations with Moldova in February 1997 to prevent the sale.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright certified Moldova (along with the former Soviet republics of Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) on March 4, 1997, as eligible for the CTR program, which provides assistance to states of the former Soviet Union in implementing denuclearization initiatives, securing fissile materials and preventing proliferation. The United States and Moldova concluded on June 23 a CTR "umbrella" agreement authorizing future cooperative activities.

According to a report in Ria Novosti, a Russian newspaper, Sergeyev claimed that the Soviet military had removed the "hardware" permitting delivery of nuclear weapons in 1989. The difference between the U.S. and Russian definitions of "nuclear capable" is apparently largely semantic, reflecting whether the appropriate arming hardware has to accompany the necessary connecting wiring for the equipment.

In late October, U.S. crews partially dismantled the fighters and transported them aboard C 17 cargo jets to Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, where the fighters will be reassembled, analyzed and used for training purposes. The MiG 29Cs are the first ever obtained by the United States and U.S. officials expect these models will provide additional insights into the capabilities of the MiG 29 class, which remains an important element in the active air forces of many former Eastern bloc nations and their client states.

Moldova retained six MiG 29C fighters, but intends to sell them to a state not considered "rogue" by the United States, thereby eliminating its entire air force in an effort to cut costs. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies' The Military Balance 1997/98, the states of the former Soviet Union (not including Russia) currently have 284 MiG 29s in their active forces, but a Defense Department (DOD) official estimated that the newer model MiG 29Cs number in the "tens." DOD officials said the United States is not starting a MiG buying spree, but will continue to take steps to prevent rogue states from buying advanced weapons.

Russia and Iran Join CWC; Membership Total Reaches 104

IN EARLY NOVEMBER, the reach of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) extended considerably when Russia, possessor of the world's largest stockpile of chemical weapons, and Iran, suspected by the United States of pursuing offensive weapons programs, deposited their instruments of ratification with the UN secretary general.

President Boris Yeltsin deposited Russia's instrument November 5 after nearly eight months of parliamentary deliberations. On October 31, the Duma (lower house of Parliament), had approved the treaty by a vote of 288 75, with two abstentions. The upper chamber, the Federation Council, unanimously approved the accord five days later.

Iran's November 3 ratification, which surprised some observers, leaves several Middle Eastern countries, including Egypt, Iraq, Israel and Syria, still outside of the regime.

Under the terms of the treaty, Russia and Iran are required to submit data declarations on their chemical weapon stockpiles and relevant facilities within 60 days from their dates of ratification. They must also be prepared to accept intrusive inspections by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)—the treaty's implementing body—at any site which a state party suspects of housing chemical weapon activities.

The CWC, which bans the production, stockpiling, transfer and use of chemical weapons and mandates their destruction, will enter into force for Russia on December 5. Thus, instead of being a full voting member for the entire second Conference of States Parties (CSP) from December 1 to 5, Russia will only be able to vote on the last day of the meeting. The CSP reviews compliance with the treaty and is expected to take up several substantive matters, including how much financial responsibility a state will bear for inspections on its territory, a primary concern for Russia.

Because Russia was not among the 87 "original states parties" (those ratifying before the treaty's April 29 entry into force), Russian participation in the OPCW will, initially at least, be limited. Moscow will not immediately gain a position on the Executive Council—the governing body of the OPCW. Unless one of the five council member states from Russia's region (Eastern Europe) relinquishes its seat, Moscow will have to wait until the next election cycle in May 1998 to gain representation on the council.

During the six months of treaty operation prior to Russian ratification, Russian inspectors and staff were absent from the ranks of the OPCW. In November, processing for employment of Russians will be initiated by the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW, which is responsible for the treaty's inspection regime.

Russia's membership adds a degree of legitimacy to the OPCW and substantially advances the universality of the treaty. President Bill Clinton, in a November 5 statement released by the White House, called the completion of Russian ratification, "an important step forward in achieving our mutual arms control objectives." By joining the CWC, Russia brings the total number of states parties to 104 (64 signatories have yet to ratify), and commits itself to destroying its 40,000 ton stockpile of blister and nerve agents within 10 years—with an option for a five year extension—at an estimated cost of $5 billion to $6 billion, according to Russian officials.

The Duma's ratification contained language reflecting a Yeltsin administration pledge that roughly 20 percent of destruction costs would be offset by international assistance. According to Russian officials, The Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Italy and the European Union have indicated a willingness to assist with the destruction program.

The United States has allocated $171.9 million through fiscal year 1998 for chemical weapons destruction projects and an additional $22.2 million through fiscal year 1998 for demilitarization of chemical weapons production facilities in Russia. Germany has also assisted with Russian chemical weapons destruction, contributing an estimated $20 million by the end of 1997.

Russian-Iran Ties Remain Issue At Gore-Chernomyrdin Meeting

THE CLINTON administration's ongoing campaign to convince Russia to sever its civil nuclear ties with Iran was rebuffed once again by Moscow during the latest session of the Gore Chernomyrdin Commission September 22 23. Russian officials also rejected, at least publicly, continuing U.S. and Israeli claims that Iran's ballistic missile programs are advancing with the help of illicit Russian technology transfers, although Moscow has agreed to continue a high profile joint investigation into the alleged transfers that utilizes sensitive U.S. intelligence.

The administration is under increasing pressure from congressional critics to adopt a tougher stance toward Moscow for its continuing nuclear relationship with Tehran and its inability, or unwillingness, to control missile related exports by the country's vast military industrial complex. On September 30, a bipartisan group of nearly 100 senators and representatives sent a letter to President Clinton stating that the Russian transfers pose "a direct threat to U.S. security," and that Congress is "moving to mandate a cutoff of assistance to Russia if these dangerous activities do not cease." The letter was drafted by Senator Jon Kyl (R AZ) and Representative Jane Harman (D CA).

In 1995, Russia signed a $800 million contract with Iran to complete the construction of a 1,000 megawatt (electric) light water reactor at the Bushehr nuclear complex on the Persian Gulf coast, where the German company Seimens had suspended work on two reactors following the 1979 revolution. Iran, a signatory of the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, reportedly has already paid Russia $80 million for the project, which is scheduled to be completed by 2001. Installation work at the reactor site may begin in mid 1998.

Despite the fact the facility will be under safeguards, the United States has long pressed the Yeltsin administration to pull out of the Bushehr project, arguing that any support for Iran's civil nuclear power program will indirectly assist Tehran's covert drive to acquire nuclear weapons. During their meeting in Moscow, Vice President Al Gore and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, the commission's co chairmen, held extensive discussions on the Bushehr project but Moscow again refused to give ground.

The latest controversy involving alleged Russian missile related transfers emerged in January, when the White House was informed of an Israeli intelligence report identifying several Russian entities that had aided Iranian programs aimed at developing intermediate range ballistic missiles (IRBMs). Since the Israeli intelligence report first surfaced, Russian officials have repeatedly denied claims that Russia is assisting Iran's nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs. Gore raised the issue of Russian missile related transfers at the previous Gore Chernomyrdin Commission meeting in February, as did Clinton during his March summit with Yeltsin in Helsinki.

In Moscow, Gore and Chernomyrdin were briefed by Frank Wisner, the president's special envoy on the missile issue and former U.S. ambassador to Egypt and India, who is heading the joint investigation, which was launched in August, along with Yuri Koptev, director of the Russian Space Agency. Interestingly, Koptev was identified in the Israeli intelligence report as one of only two senior Russian officials directly linked to Iran's missile programs. Wisner and Koptev are scheduled to meet again in early November.

Following his meeting with Chernomyrdin, Gore said, "[O]ne of the new lessons of this report [by Wisner and Koptev] is that it is obvious that there is a vigorous effort by Iran to obtain the technologies that it needs to build a ballistic missile and to build nuclear weapons." Gore, who also met with President Boris Yeltsin during his Moscow visit, said "there is no doubt in my mind" that the two countries "share the same concern" about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. Russian officials, however, continued to deny the supply link. At a September 26 Kremlin news conference with French President Jacques Chirac, Yeltsin said, "There is nothing further from the truth. I again and again categorically refute such rumors."

According to the Israeli assessment, which was first reported in The Washington Times on September 10 and the gist of which has largely been confirmed by U.S. intelligence agencies, several Russian entities have provided Iran with key missile technology and know how. The named entities include the Russian Space Agency; Rosvoorouzhenie, the country's principal arms exporting agency, and its unidentified aerospace director; the Bauman Institute; NPO Trud; and Polyus. The Israeli report also identified China's state owned Great Wall Industries Corporation as a supplier.

According to Israeli intelligence, Iran is developing two IRBMs¾referred to as the Shahab 3 and the Shahab 4—that are based on North Korea's 1,000 kilometer range Nodong missile. Iran reportedly has provided financial support for North Korea's missile development programs, and according to one Israeli intelligence report has received at least a dozen of the missiles from Pyong yang. The Shahab 3's estimated range of 1,300 to 1,500 kilometers would put parts of Israel within its reach, and its estimated payload capability of 750 kilograms would allow the delivery of a nuclear warhead. Reports suggest this missile could enter production as early as 1999. The Shahab 4 has a reported range of 2,000 kilometers with a payload of 1,000 kilograms. Some observers believe that the Shahab 4 is based on Russia's SS 4 IRBM, the technology for which Russia has been accused of transferring to Tehran. Gore raised the SS 4 issue at the February meeting of the commission, but Chernomyrdin denied any such transfers had taken place.

During his September 23 press conference with Gore, Chernomyrdin reiterated Russia's commitment to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the 29 nation export control forum which Moscow formally joined in 1995. "We are not diverging from our commitments and even if somebody wishes to diverge from these commitments, they will not have their way," Chernomyrdin said. "There is no question of any missile deliveries."

Should the Clinton administration determine that the missile related transfers took place, the Russian entities could only be sanctioned under U.S. laws enforcing the MTCR if Russia, as an MTCR member, failed to take judicial or other enforcement action against the entities after confirming the violations had occurred. The sanctions, if applied, would bar the entities from doing any business with the U.S. government, as well as competing for contracts for future work.

The Russian Space Agency, in particular, is under close scrutiny because of its extensive contractual ties to U.S. agencies. In the last several years the U.S. government has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the Russian space program, funding that may become the target of congressional critics of the administration's approach to ending Moscow's nuclear and missile related ties with Iran.

Senate Calls for Sanctions on China

Following Iranian tests of a new air-launched anti-ship cruise missile acquired from China, the Senate, on June 18, approved a non-binding "sense-of-the-Senate" resolution offered by Senator Robert Bennett (RUT) urging the Clinton administration to enforce the Iran-Iraq Arms NonProliferation Act of 1992 and sanction China for selling the missiles to Iran.

Testifying in April, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Robert Einhorn said the law "does provide for a substantial list of actions" against anyone providing Iran or Iraq with destabilizing numbers or types of conventional weapons, or assisting them in the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction. The administration has maintained since March 1996 that China's sale of the C802 Silkworm land and sea-launched anti-ship missile to Iran are not sufficiently destabilizing in numbers or type to trigger sanctions. That judgment, however, was called into question by the Senate after Defense Secretary William Cohen's June 17 announcement of Iran's successful tests of the C801 Sardine, a variant of the Silkworm.

According to a senior defense official, U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf now face "a 360degree threat which can . . . come up on you very, very quickly." Iran has deployed the C802 on its coast and on more than 20 patrol boats and frigates; the addition of the air-launched C801 variant provides Iran with an additional anti-ship capability that can be launched from any direction. The official pointed out, however, that the U.S. Navy "can certainly track and engage any cruise missile in the Gulf today."

CIA, DIA Provide New Details on CW, BW Programs in Iran and Russia

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