Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 3

Reports of that sort appear to have been at least partly responsible for a renewed push by the Clinton administration to compel the Kremlin to take more forceful measures aimed at stemming leaks of military technology. On December 9 U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright used a meeting in Brussels to warn her Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, that Moscow could forfeit millions of dollars in U.S. aid for Russian scientists if the Kremlin failed to halt Russian missile cooperation with Iran. That warning, and others related to nuclear cooperation between Moscow and Tehran, were repeated by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott during a visit to Moscow on December 10-12. Then, on December 16, the United States appeared to up the ante when the Clinton administration warned that it would impose fresh sanctions and curb expansion of lucrative Russian-U.S. space launch contracts if Moscow did not halt its nuclear and missile cooperation with Iran (see the Monitor, December 14, 17).

While U.S. officials have praised Moscow’s efforts to improve the formal regulatory system by which it seeks to control military exports, they have demanded repeatedly that Russia move beyond declarations and decrees, and take concrete actions to stop technology leaks. If Western press and intelligence reports are to be believed, those warnings from Washington have thus far produced scant results. There is little reason to think that Yeltsin’s latest decrees will change the situation significantly.

Moscow may have little more to offer than declarations, however. The Kremlin is desperate for Western financial assistance, but is unwilling to defy the prevailing nationalist sentiments among the country’s political elite, which have locked Moscow into a conflict with the United States over Iraq and Yugoslavia, and over Iran and a host of other issues. Against that background, and in the run-up to a series of high-level Russian-U.S. contacts which Moscow hopes will unlock funding from the International Monetary Fund, the Kremlin can be expected to promise additional progress in two areas of key concern to Washington: greater control over Russian arms exports and ratification of the START II treaty. Whether the Kremlin can deliver on either of these promises remains an open question.