Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 137

The July 15 Russian government decision to investigate some nine organizations suspected of leaking dual-use technologies to foreign countries was foreshadowed earlier this week in remarks by the director of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB). The launching of the Russian investigations was warmly applauded by the Clinton administration, which saw it as an indication that Moscow was finally heeding Washington’s calls for a crackdown on the export of Russian missile technology to Iran. (See the Monitor, July 16)

Two days before the Russian government announcement, FSB director Nikolai Kovalev told reporters that he considered it inadmissible that some Russian businessmen and high-ranking officials were attempting to circumvent export controls on dual-use technologies (that is, technologies with both civilian and military applications). Kovalev also claimed that an awareness of such controls, and their importance, had yet to make an impression on many Russian businessmen and officials.

According to Kovalev, the FSB is currently carrying out a major operation to prevent leaks of “sensitive technologies.” In addition, he claimed that the FSB has already uncovered several attempts to transfer missile-related technologies to Iran. In order to better prevent such occurrences, Kovalev called for the adoption of a special law to rationalize government oversight of military exports in a fashion consistent with the control regimes found in other leading democracies. The Russian government commission on export controls is currently drafting such a law. Kovalev said that Russia’s other special services had also recently stepped up their activities aimed at stopping illegal technology exports. He claimed that better coordination of the various security services’ actions, carried out under the auspices of the Russian Security Council, had begun to produce results. (Itar-Tass, July 13)

Like the FSB and Russia’s other security services, the country’s armed forces said on July 15 that they, too, were stepping up efforts to stop illegal leaks of military technology. General Staff Chief Anatoly Kvashnin told reporters that the Defense Ministry’s own commission on export controls had strengthened its cooperation with other law-enforcement agencies in order to improve Russia’s efforts in this area. But Kvashnin also made clear that such efforts would not be allowed to interfere with what he called Russia’s “traditional military-technical cooperation” with foreign countries–including its trade in conventional weaponry. (Russian agencies, July 15) That statement indicated that Moscow will continue to seek arms sales in such countries as Iran. The United States has tried to stop illegal missile technology transfers to Tehran, but has also sought to isolate Tehran more broadly for its sponsorship of terrorism.