Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 19

Ivanov also used the concluding press conference, however, to reiterate both Moscow’s alarm over recently announced U.S. plans to build an antimissile defense system which might breach the 1972 ABM treaty, and the Kremlin’s contention that Washington’s doing so would greatly complicate future efforts at strategic arms reduction. “We firmly believe that further reduction of strategic missiles can be achieved only on the condition that we are certain this agreement [the ABM treaty] will be preserved and observed as a cornerstone of strategic stability,” he said (Reuters, January 27).

Ivanov’s remarks only underscored the deepening divide between Washington and Moscow on this issue. When Albright scheduled her visit to Moscow late last year, there had been hopes that the Russian State Duma might soon ratify the START II treaty and that the two sides would then be able to move on to a follow-up START III accord to further reduce their nuclear arsenals. Since then, however, U.S. air strikes on Iraq presented Russian lawmakers with one more pretext to again delay the treaty, while Washington’s decision to go forward with development of a missile defense system has alarmed even those in Moscow who have supported ratification of START II.

The Russian-U.S. agreement to tighten controls over technology in American satellites which Russia launches in Kazakhstan was clearly aimed at preventing sensitive technologies from being leaked to Iran or other third countries. Seven such satellite launches are scheduled before the end of 2000, and revenue from them–to be shared by Russia and Kazakhstan–is expected to total at least US$400 million (AP, January 26).

But, despite that seemingly positive step–and yet another Ivanov proclamation on January 25 that Moscow was strengthening its exports controls and working with the U.S. on nonproliferation issues–the two sides seemed to make little or no headway on long-standing U.S. concerns about leaks of Russian missile and nuclear technologies to Iran. Indeed, Ivanov used the concluding press conference to reject once again Washington’s efforts to “pressure” Moscow into curbing its cooperation with Iran (International and Russian agencies, January 26). Moscow reacted furiously to Washington’s decision earlier this month to impose sanctions on three Russian institutes suspected of improperly transferring sensitive technologies to Iran. Russian officials also rejected similar accusations which Israeli Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon leveled at Moscow during a visit there last week.