Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 136

In a move quickly applauded by Washington, a Russian government commission announced yesterday that it was investigating nine Russian organizations suspected of having violated laws governing the export of dual-use technologies. The government commission on export control, which is chaired by Economics Minister Yakov Urinson, threatened administrative or, possibly, criminal charges against the nine. The organizations under suspicion are the INOR scientific center, the Grafit and Polyus research institutes, the Tikhomirov institute, Glavkosmos, the Komintern plant in Novosibirsk, the MOSO company, Baltic State Technical University and Europalace 2000. They are being investigated for possible violations “of the established state system of export control and of attempts to export dual-purpose goods and services connected with weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery by missile.” The commission also decided yesterday to complete drafting of a bill that would reportedly enhance export controls over private companies not presently subject to direct state oversight. (Itar-Tass, July 15)

Although the news report of yesterday’s actions by the government export control commission made no mention of Iran, at least some of the organizations under investigation undoubtedly find themselves in that position because of their dealings with Tehran. Both the U.S. and the Israeli governments have repeatedly accused Russia–or Russian organizations–of aiding an Iranian program to develop ballistic missiles. The issue has been a particularly contentious one for Washington and Moscow, and has been the object of numerous intense consultations. In addition, the alleged secret Russian missile dealings with Iran last month prompted U.S. lawmakers to overwhelmingly approve legislation to impose sanctions on Russian companies suspected of such activities. That vote was opposed by the Clinton administration. It claimed that is own diplomatic efforts, aimed at getting the Kremlin to increase its control over dual-use exports, were beginning to bear fruit. (See Monitor, June 25)

Against that background, the Clinton administration yesterday took note of the Russian actions with predictable approval. A White House statement said that, where appropriate, the United States would itself “suspend immediately any U.S. government program or assistance to entities” on the Russian government list. The statement also said that the United States would “proceed expeditiously to impose trade restrictions on such entities.” Finally, the White House statement said that the Russian commission’s actions “demonstrate the growing effectiveness of U.S.-Russian cooperation in halting the proliferation and transfer of dangerous weapons technology and materials.” (U.S. Newswire, July 15)