Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 155

Three days of talks between Russia’s chief security official and Israeli government leaders have apparently resolved some of the differences between the two countries on the subject of alleged Russian missile cooperation with Iran. But Russian Security Council Secretary Andrei Kokoshin, in Israel on an official visit, was also told that Moscow needed to do more to stop the flow of missile technology to Tehran.

During his stay in Israel, Kokoshin met with Israel’s Minister of Industry and Trade, Natan Sharansky, as well as with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai. The Russian security chief also held what were described as “intensive discussions” at Israel’s Foreign Ministry. Little information was available on those last talks, but in all other cases, Israel was reported to have raised anew what it said was ongoing cooperation between Moscow and Tehran in the development of Iranian ballistic missiles. Mordechai was quoted yesterday as saying that Iran’s acquisition of modern military technologies and materials “jeopardizes Israeli and regional security.” (Russian agencies, August 10-11)

Kokoshin reportedly disputed some of the specific Israeli charges, but did not issue the sort of sweeping denials heard from then Russian Federal Security Service head Nikolai Kovalev during his own visit to Israel in July. Kokoshin also suggested that Israeli officials had presented a more comprehensive picture of Russian-Iranian missile cooperation than the United States has done. In addition, Israel was reported to have told Kokoshin that two of nine Russian enterprises investigated by government authorities last month on suspicion of transferring missile technologies to Iran are still involved in such activities. Israeli officials also named companies involved in technology transfers to Iran not on that list of those being investigated.

Natan Sharansky, who coordinates the government’s relations with Russia, summed up the Israeli view of current Russian-Iranian missile cooperation. He said that there was no doubt that Russia had taken a number of steps in recent months to combat the problem of technology links. He added, however, that Israel was nevertheless not satisfied with the concrete result of Russian policies. He warned that Iran would have its own missiles in a year if foreign assistance for its missile program were not halted. He expressed Israel’s willingness to consider a three-way research and development program with Russia and the United States that would help make up for any economic losses suffered by Russian companies which give up cooperative activities with Iran.

Israeli officials suggested that Kokoshin’s visit was intended, at least in part, to ensure that the upcoming summit meeting between Russian President Boris Yeltsin and U.S. President Bill Clinton does not founder on the issue of Russian-Iranian missile cooperation. Moscow is also concerned, they said, by the possibility that U.S. congressional sanctions over the Russian-Iranian cooperation could mar the summit. (Ha’aretz, August 10)