Officials in Moscow continued yesterday to deny allegations that Russia — or Russian officials acting independently — are involved in the development of an Iranian long range nuclear missile. (See yesterday’s Monitor) The Foreign Ministry’s chief spokesman, Valery Nesterushkin, claimed that the "appropriate Russian agencies" had "repeatedly checked out various versions and rumors" of Russia’s alleged involvement in the missile project, and had found them to be groundless. "The Russian side has repeatedly provided exhaustive explanations to its partners," Nesterushkin said. The Russian Space Agency, also accused of involvement, issued a similar denial.
An unnamed expert from one of Russia’s special services made the most pointed comments, arguing that Moscow itself is in no way enthusiastic about the possibility of a country near its southern border acquiring the potential to build long-range nuclear missiles. He also suggested that Russia’s secret services are actively involved in ensuring that the country’s military technology does not illegally fall into foreign hands — including Iran’s. He claimed, finally, that the missile program currently underway in Iran is dependent on cooperation not with Russia, but with China and North Korea. (Russian news agencies, September 11)
The security official’s comments notwithstanding, another report suggests just how spotty Moscow’s ability to oversee its defense complex may be. The Washington Post quotes the results of an investigation carried out by a non-proliferation research group, which said that some 30 gyroscopes from disassembled Russian ballistic missiles had made their way to Iraq in violation of UN sanctions. The gyroscopes were said to have been transferred through middlemen and were ultimately found by UN weapons inspectors near Baghdad in December of 1995. The group concluded that Russia’s export controls failed to stop the transfer of the gyroscopes and that, more generally, the country’s sprawling defense industrial complex remains vulnerable to the loss of sensitive technology and nuclear fissile materials. (The Washington Post, September 12)
Ukraine Introduces Exchange-Rate Corridor.