23 September 1997
(Text: White House Release) (470) (The following statement was released September 23, 1997 by the White House Office of the Vice President following the ninth meeting of the U.S.-Russian Joint Commission on Economic and Technical Cooperation, also known as the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission) U.S.-Russian Joint Commission on Economic and Technological Cooperation GORE-CHERNOMYRDIN COMMISSION Defense Conversion Committee Vice President Al Gore is pleased with the Defense Conversion Committee (DCC)'s continuing progress in the conversion of Russian excess defense industry to commercial endeavors. The DCC has encouraged private U.S. investment in Russian defense conversion and the involvement of regional leaders in the restructuring of defense-dependent economies. The Vice President commends the DCC-sponsored economic development initiative in the town of Reutov, citing it as an excellent model for other community-based economic development projects in Russia. He stresses the continuing importance of defense conversion project finance, insurance, and project feasibility study support from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, calling the involvement of these U.S. agencies critical to the long term success of our conversion efforts in Russia. Finally, he congratulates the Defense Enterprise Fund on its excellent conversion investment performance in Russia to date and encourages the Fund to move ahead energetically with the creation of a new, private fund which will also support conversion and high technology ventures in Russia. Vice President Gore strongly urges the U.S. and Russian sides of the DCC to demonstrate progress on the conclusion of a cooperative agreement on military-technical and dual-use technologies. He charges the committee to have an agreement in this promising new area in place by the tenth meeting of the GCC. Vice President Gore welcomes the signature by Deputy Secretary of Defense Hamre and Minister of Atomic Energy Mikhailov of the Core Conversion Implementing Agreement. This agreement supports the nonproliferation goals of both nations expressed in the Plutonium Production Reactor Agreement, and represents one of the Vice President's highest priorities. U.S.-Russian collaboration to convert the reactor cores means that Russia will join the U.S. in no longer producing weapons-grade plutonium. The U.S. Defense Department has committed up to $10 million for this new Cooperative Threat Reduction project, and will provide additional funding as it is appropriated by the Congress. A comprehensive and encouraging report on the DoD's Cooperative Threat Reduction Program has been submitted to the Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation and the Vice President. That program continues to advance our mutual security goals including: accelerated and safe reduction of nuclear materials, chemical and nuclear weapons; and the safety and security of remaining nuclear weapons and materials.