Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 122

On the evening of June 23, U.S. President Bill Clinton vetoed a bill that imposes sanctions on Russian companies selling ballistic missile technology to Iran–a veto despite overwhelming and bipartisan support for the bill among members of both houses of Congress. There seems little doubt at this time that lawmakers will be able to override the presidential veto.

The bill would require Clinton to report to Congress identifying Russian companies, research institutes or other entities for which there is “credible evidence” that they have transferred missile technology to Iran. Such a report would trigger three types of sanctions: denial of munitions licenses, prohibitions of dual-use licenses or denial of U.S. foreign aid. The president would have the authority to waive the sanctions if he deemed it necessary to protect U.S. national security. (Reuter, The Washington Post, June 24)

Congressional supporters of sanctions argue that the Clinton administration’s diplomatic efforts to stop the flow of missile technology to Iran have been unsuccessful. Stronger measures, they say, are therefore in order. Lawmakers were also peeved when the Clinton administration decided last month to waive sanctions aimed at three companies–French, Russian and Malaysian–which have undertaken a US$2 billion deal to develop a major Iranian gas field. That decision helped drive congressional efforts to pass the missile sanctions bill.