The Clinton administration last month reportedly moved to spotlight some twenty Russian agencies suspected of leaking missile technology to Iran. The administration’s action appears to be preliminary, however. It apparently does not involve any sanctions.
That is the conclusion suggested, at least, from reports published yesterday. (UPI, AP, April 16) They say that the State Department last month alerted managers of U.S. programs currently financing commercial ventures for various Russian agencies involved in defense work. The alert reportedly identified some twenty of those agencies. It described them as suspected providers of missile technology to Iran and said that they might eventually be targeted for sanctions. According to one report, U.S. officials said that Washington would hold off on sanctions for the time being, out of concern that the leveling of sanctions could harm Russian-U.S. cooperation on other proliferation issues.
Yesterday’s developments continue the long saga of recriminations between the United States and Russia (and between Russia and Israel — see yesterday’s Monitor) over allegations that various Russian agencies are guilty of secretly providing Iran with ballistic missile technology. As a result of such accusations, the U.S. Congress has threatened to approve a measure that would require economic sanctions against Russia. Lawmakers have also accused the Clinton administration of failing to move forcefully enough against Russia on the proliferation issue. The administration, in turn, has cited recent pledges by Russia to tighten its export controls as proof that it is making progress with Moscow on that score. But even administration officials concede they have a long way to go on the issue.
Some Russian officials have conceded that Russian agencies may be involved in the Iranian missile effort, but have suggested that the agencies are operating without the sanction of the Russian government. Other top officials, including spokesmen for Russia’s intelligence agencies, have downplayed such reports. They have insisted instead that they have the situation well under control.
Moscow Still Looking at Cuban Nuclear Power Plant.