Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 3

In an apparent effort to address America’s continuing concerns, Russian President Boris Yeltsin has reportedly moved to tighten government controls over the export of sensitive Russian military technologies. According to the Kremlin press service, Yeltsin has signed two decrees which amend and broaden the list of export items and technologies subject to government control. Although few details of the decrees were released, they reportedly introduce changes and additions to the national control lists, compiled by the Russian government, which regulate the export of dual-use products and of goods and technologies used in manufacturing missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction.

The latest decrees reportedly modify two earlier decrees–both of which Yeltsin issued in August 1997–aimed at improving Russia’s system of overseeing the export of sensitive military items. The Russian presidential press service said yesterday that the Kremlin’s latest measures are “aimed at ensuring the implementation of Russia’s international obligations as a member country of the Wassenaar agreements on export control over conventional arms,” and various dual-purpose goods and missile technologies. The press service statement also described yesterday’s decrees as “additional evidence of Russia’s adherence to a policy of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and [Russia’s] course toward strengthening the country’s national system of export control” (Reuters, Russian agencies, January 5).

Yesterday’s decrees would appear to represent one more effort by the Russian government to prove to Washington that it is moving seriously to stem the flow of Russian military technologies to Third World countries, and to Iran in particular. The United States has repeatedly complained about what it says is continued cooperation between Russian missile experts and Iranian agencies seeking to develop ballistic missiles. More recently, reports in the Western press have alleged that Russian specialists may also be involved in efforts by Iran to develop both nuclear and biological weapons.