In an official statement released to news agencies, Russia’s Defense Ministry vowed yesterday to work with other government agencies both to ensure reliable and tougher control over the export of sensitive military technologies. The ministry would also do its part, the statement read, to improve cooperation between its own export control committee and the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s main counterintelligence agency. The statement, however, provided few additional details about the ministry’s plans in this area. (Reuter, Itar-Tass, July 28)
Yesterday’s announcement appears to be an official restatement of a policy first enunciated by General Staff chief Anatoly Kvashnin on July 15. That day, a Russian government commission on export control, which is chaired by Economics Minister Yakov Urinson, announced that it would investigate some nine Russian organizations suspected of improperly exporting dual-use technologies (those with civilian and military applications). The move has been applauded by the Clinton administration as proof that Moscow is finally moving to shut down improper military technology leaks to Iran. (See the Monitor, July 16-17)
The same subject, moreover, was on the agenda during U.S. Vice President Al Gore’s visit to Moscow on July 24, and again during talks between U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov in Manila on July 27. Yesterday’s announcement appears timed to demonstrate Moscow’s seriousness on the issue in the wake of those talks and in the lead-up to the Russian-U.S. summit scheduled for later this year. Russian military cooperation with Iran is to be a major topic of discussion when Presidents Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton meet in Moscow on that occasion.
In Russia, meanwhile, a top official of the Baltic State Technical University yesterday denied what he said were accusations from the U.S. State Department that the university has contributed to Iranian efforts to develop ballistic missiles. The Baltic State Technical University was among the nine institutions listed by the Russian government on July 15 as under investigation. The official from the university clamed that some twenty-five Iranian scientists who had been in training there had been sent home some two years ago. He also said that the training they received prior to departure had not constituted a violation of Russia’s international obligation to the nonproliferation of missile technologies. (Itar-Tass, July 28)