U.S. Presses Russia on Nuclear, Missile Cooperation with Iran
Wagner, Alex, Arms Control Today
IN TWO RECENT high-level meetings in Moscow, U.S. officials pressed Russia to stop nuclear and missile cooperation with Iran.
John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, met with Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Georgy Mamedov on February 19. Although the talks focused on announced reductions in U.S. and Russian offensive nuclear forces, Bolton also raised the issue of Russian assistance to Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Calling the issue "a very high priority" for the administration, Bolton acknowledged that the two sides "had a disagreement about the extent of [Russia's] involvement" in those areas. He further questioned how "any Russian citizen [could] see any benefit whatever in a nuclear-equipped, ballistic missile-capable Iran." In a February 11 interview with Arms Control Today, Bolton cited Russia's proliferation behavior as one of the top priorities for the Bush administration, just after missile defenses and offensive nuclear reductions. (See p. 3.)
Earlier this year, Assistant Secretary of State John Wolf also met with Mamedov in Moscow to discuss the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery vehicles, as well as export control issues. The January 21-22 meetings represented the first round of formal U.S.-Russian nonproliferation consultations, a new biannual forum established during the November 2001 presidential summit in Crawford, Texas.
In the January discussions, the United States and Russia again locked horns on whether Russia's continued assistance to Iran's nuclear program and other "military technological cooperation" posed a proliferation risk. Russia is helping Iran build two civilian nuclear power reactors at Bushehr-assistance the United States says will help Iran build nuclear weapons-and the United States sanctioned several Russian entities in 1999 for providing ballisticmissile assistance to Iran.
According to a Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs press statement, Russian assistance is carried out "in strict compliance" with export controls and international nonproliferation accords. …