FILE ID:95063002.POL

(U.S.-Russia, Bosnia) (1060)

NEWS BRIEFING -- Spokesman Nicholas Burns discussed the following


"We've resolved now completely the issue of Russian arms sales to
Iran," the spokesman told reporters who asked about Vice President
Gore's just concluded visit to Russia. Gore met with President Boris
Yeltsin June 30 following two and a half days of discussions with
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin.

"We were able to work through and make progress on a number of issues
that have been at play for a number of years," Burns said. Resolving
the issue of Russian arms sales to Iran allows the United States to
support the immediate participation of Russia in the Missile
Technology Control Regime and the regime that will be announced and
established soon that will replace COCOM, a Cold War institution that
was set up to contain Russia, he said.

Russia will be "a lead participant" in the successor regime to COCOM
in the "fight against the problem of proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction and of sensitive technologies," the spokesman said.

Gore and Chernomyrdin also made "a lot of progress" on the issue of
highly enriched uranium (HEU) which is at the heart of the trilateral
agreement between Russia, Ukraine and the United States that will
result in the removal of the nuclear warheads of the former nuclear
arsenal from Ukraine by next year, Burns said. There were agreements
reached on nuclear security, investment, and some specific oil and gas
energy deals, he said.

Russia had agreed earlier that it would not contract for any new sales
of military equipment to Iran, the spokesman pointed out. The
Gore-Chernomyrdin talks achieved Moscow's commitment to end existing
contracts with Iran "within a few years, and they will not provide
Iran with new weapon capabilities or alter the military balance in the
region," Burns said.

The issue of existing contracts has been under active discussion since
last September's Washington summit between Yeltsin and President
Clinton. The United States wanted to know the extent, breadth, and
depth of Russia's arms relationship with Iran. This involved questions
like: "How much money is at stake? What kind of weapons are you
selling? How long do those contracts last? Will it alter the military
balance?" the spokesman explained.

"We now have resolved, to our satisfaction, that the fulfillment of
the existing contracts will not alter the existing military balance
and will be limited in the future," Burns declared. "What I don't have
here, frankly, is a breakdown of all of the weaponry that was under
discussion in the pipeline," he told questioners.

On the issue of Russia's possible future nuclear sales to Iran, Gore
and Chernomyrdin had been asked by their two presidents to take
responsibility for the issue, and they had "an initial discussion" on
the topic, the spokesman said. While Chernomyrdin said there could be
no question of Russia giving Iran a nuclear capability, there were
many issues to be discussed.

"So we've got work to do; we've got a ways to go with the Russians,"
Burns said, noting that Secretary of State Christopher has said on a
number of occasions this is a high priority in the U.S.-Russian

"We intend to pursue this dialogue with the Russian government," the
spokesman said.

On another subject, Burns noted the announcement that President
Yeltsin has accepted the resignations of the Russian minister of
internal affairs, the minister of nationalities, and chief of the
federal security service.

"This is a decision that the Russian government has made and it would
be inappropriate for us to comment on it," the spokesman said. "I
would say, however, that we continue to have a very deep interest in
stability in Russia, and in seeing the democratic and economic process


The spokesman emphasized that the Clinton administration is determined
to go ahead with its plans to provide support to three allied
countries that will form a Rapid Reaction Force designed to strengthen
the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) in Bosnia.

House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole
sharply criticized the plan to provide up to $95 million in cash and
in-kind support for the Rapid Reaction Force in a June 29 letter to
President Clinton.

"I think you know what the response of the administration is," Burns
told reporters. "We're going forward. We're going to support our
allies. We're going to do what we can to strengthen UNPROFOR."

The president's decision to establish a fund "to help the Rapid
Reaction Force get on its feet is an indication of the fact that we're
with our allies," the spokesman said. "We understand that one of the
essential obligations that we have is to support our allies when they
are in a tight position, and they are in a tight position."

Under the plan, the United States will provide military equipment,
airlift capability, communications gear and other in-kind serves
valued at up to $60 million and up to $35 million in cash
contributions to help fund part of the force.

The spokesman declined comment on remarks attributed to an unnamed
senior French Defense Ministry official who reportedly criticized the
United States for allegedly backing military action by the Bosnian

"We have not heard from the French government privately and have
certainly not seen any other French government statements that are
consistent with the press reports," Burns said.

The United States has not heard any criticism of its policy toward
Bosnia, public or private, from the European allies during a series of
high-level consultations over the past three weeks, beginning with the
NATO foreign ministers meeting in the Netherlands early this month, he

The spokesman rejected as "nonsense" an allegation by the unnamed
French official that U.S. reserve offers are training and arming the
Bosnian Army.

But, he said, "we understand certainly the frustrations of the Bosnian
government at this time, when Sarajevo is being shelled, when little
kids are being killed in the streets of Sarajevo, when food convoys
aren't reaching Sarajevo or the enclaves. We understand the
frustration that a lot of people in Bosnia must feel. We have always
had a great deal of sympathy and friendship for the Bosnian
government," Burns said.