State Nonproliferation Official on Russian Arms Talks
John P. Barker, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
for Nonproliferation Controls Testimony
Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
October 25, 2000
Mr. Chairman, we are here today under difficult and unhappy
circumstances. Serious accusations have been leveled. Classified
documents are appearing in the press as photo insets (sidebars), and
our negotiating strategy with Russia on sensitive national security
matters is being compromised by discussing these matters in public.
Anthony Cordesman, a respected and very independent authority on
national security matters, and the Near East in particular, has
recently summarized the issues we will address today:
"Political campaigns are a poor time to debate complex military
issues, particularly when the debate is based on press reports that
are skewed to stress the importance of the story at the expense of
objective perspective and the facts. Iran does represent a potential
threat to U.S. interests, but it has not had a major conventional arms
build-up or received destabilizing transfers of advanced conventional
weapons. The violations of U.S. and Russian agreements have been
minor, have had little military meaning, and been more technical than
substantive." (Anthony Cordesman, Iranian Arms Transfers: The Facts,
Center for Strategic and International Studies.)
We are appearing today to say what the administration has done over
the past seven years to address what we agree is a serious national
security problem: Iran's quest to acquire advanced conventional and
nuclear weapons as well as the means to deliver them. But, we also
want to address directly the allegations we have heard about
violations of laws and agreements purportedly kept secret from
Congress. We will address what we can in this statement, but we are
sure you understand that unauthorized disclosure of classified
information does not mean it has been declassified. We still have an
obligation to protect classified national security information. We are
prepared to address detailed questions in closed session.
Preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, the means to deliver
them, as well as advanced conventional weapons, has been a top foreign
policy and national security objective throughout this and previous
administrations. Most Western nuclear and arms exporters were by early
1995 in broad agreement on these matters, but Russia was clearly
central to success. How to keep the collapse of the Soviet Union from
opening up a huge opportunity for Iran to acquire these items by
purchase or theft was one of the most complex and challenging problems
the administration confronted as it took office.
We needed to address three separate challenges. First, we had to
ensure that political and economic collapse did not open the gates to
the loss of control of Russia's expertise, equipment, and technology.
Second, we had to ensure Russia had the legal and enforcement tools to
control its capabilities. But most of all we needed to convince the
Russian government that serious and firm constraints on what it
exported, and to whom, were critical to Russia's own national and
The Soviet Union had been a primary exporter of conventional arms and
nuclear technology, but the end of the Cold War deprived it of its
foreign markets, and domestic military requirements were shrinking at
the same time. In 1991 and 1992, Russia began to pursue the Iranian
conventional arms and nuclear market in earnest. In 1991 Russia
concluded a large, multi-year conventional arms contract. In 1992 it
concluded a nuclear cooperation agreement with Iran. It is these two
agreements - which predate the Clinton administration - that the
administration had to contain and reverse. At the same time, Iran
began to try to exploit the economic chaos and a lack of effective
regulation to end-run the Russian government even when it did want to
block particular transactions.
To achieve these three critical objectives, the administration has
pursued a complex and long-term strategy. We put innovative assistance
programs in place to control technology and prevent the "brain drain"
of Russian scientists and their expertise to other states. We used
diplomacy to build consensus on the importance of restraint in exports
and effective controls to implement policy. We provided training and
advice on sound export controls. Most important of all, we engaged all
levels of the Russian government repeatedly and relentlessly to
persuade them to walk back from arrangements with Tehran that were
threatening not only to our security, but in the end to Russia's own
interests. Where necessary, we used the threat of sanctions, and on
occasion we imposed sanctions. This is not a strategy of immediate
It has been a long and difficult effort, but it has produced
We have substantially constrained the types and quantities of
conventional military equipment Iran is able to obtain. And we have
slowed Iran's acquisition of WMD (weapons of mass destruction) and
delivery systems. Let me give you a one sentence summary of what we
achieved: Russia promised that it would not conclude new contracts for
conventional weapons to Iran and it agreed not to provide to Iran most
of the nuclear technology - including all the most dangerous types of
that technology - that it was proposing to sell. One measure of our
success in restraining Russian export behavior might be the many
complaints from Russians directly, and in the Russian press, that
Russia has lost billions of dollars of conventional arms sales to
Iran, and hundreds of millions of dollars of sensitive nuclear
technology sales, due specifically to our efforts. We know that these
understandings were a good deal for the U.S., in part because of the
Russian media commentators and politicians who argue that they are not
in Russia's interests.
We will discuss in detail the efforts we made on the conventional and
nuclear front, but first we want to address head on the accusations
that have been circulating. The first accusation is that we kept these
actions secret from you and the public. That is incorrect. Our actions
both in the conventional field and the nuclear field in 1995 were
discussed publicly at the May Moscow summit in extensive detail, as
was the fact that the Vice President and Russian Prime Minister
Chernomyrdin would resolve the details. That understanding between the
Vice President and Russian Prime Minister Chernomyrdin on conventional
arms was announced publicly in a fact sheet, also widely distributed,
immediately after the June 1995 Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission meeting.
The understandings the Vice President reached in 1995 on both nuclear
and conventional matters were briefed to Congress. Of course, certain
sensitive documents were classified, and were closely held in the
Executive Branch. This is the common practice for all administrations
on very sensitive diplomatic negotiations, but the thrust of those
documents has been conveyed to both Congress and the American people.
The second accusation is that we reached a deal with Moscow to evade
our own law. This is not true. We agreed to provide assurances that we
would take "appropriate steps" to avoid penalties on transfers in the
pipeline, but only after careful review to ensure that they did not in
fact trigger mandatory sanctions under the Iran-Iraq Arms
Nonproliferation Act or other potentially applicable laws. We will be
prepared to discuss this in considerable detail, but it is important
to state in this open session that the conclusion of
non-sanctionability was reached only after careful review and detailed
analysis by the State Department, the intelligence community, the
Defense Department, and senior levels of the Joint Staff.
Some have cited a sentence in a recently leaked classified letter of
the Secretary of State as being inconsistent with this statement. The
fact is that Secretary Albright's letter was intended to deliver a
stern warning that failure to abide by the restrictions embodied in
the Aide Memoire regarding arms sales to Iran could have serious
consequences, including the possibility of sanctions. Her letter did
not go into the nuances of U.S. sanctions law. We can address this
issue in detail in closed session.
The third accusation is that understandings we reached with the
Russians should have been formally submitted to Congress under the
Case Act because, it is alleged, they are legally binding. We did
discuss with Russia whether to negotiate an agreement that would be
binding under international law, and after consulting agreed instead
to address these matters in an understanding, a political promise by
Russia documented first in a public joint statement. This
understanding was elaborated in more detail in the Aide Memoire. Under
this understanding, Russia has not concluded new contracts for new
weapons. It has not even delivered all the weapons it said it would.
It has certainly foregone billions in sales.
While important elements of our diplomatic efforts have required
confidentiality, key to our success has been the fact that we have
engaged Russia's leadership at the most senior levels to make
authoritative and public statements. Key commitments were made in
joint statements or press conferences after Summits between Presidents
Clinton and Yeltsin in 1994 and 1995. Additional Russian commitments
were articulated in public at the conclusion of meetings between Vice
President Gore and Prime Minister Chernomyrdin.
While the substance of these understandings has been public since
1995, some details were kept confidential. Confidentiality is crucial
to many diplomatic negotiations. The diplomatic process on
conventional arms transfers has fortunately not come to a halt because
of recent leaks. But playing this out in the press can only have a
chilling effect on our ability to continue the process, and could
seriously undermine the U.S. national security interests that are at
stake in these discussions.
The understanding that the U.S. reached with Russia in 1995 to limit
the sale of conventional weapons to Iran was an important gain for
U.S. security, as well as for our friends and allies. The collapse of
the Soviet Union in 1991 led to the rapid opening of new markets for
conventional arms. Russia was quick to sign a contract with Iran for
the sale of a broad range of conventional arms. This administration
inherited the situation of an expanding arms relationship between
Russia and Iran. The question was how to constrain it.
The 1992 Iran-Iraq Arms Nonproliferation Act urged the President to
"urgently seek the agreement of other nations" to constrain arms sales
to Iran and Iraq. We did just that, securing important commitments
from all countries that joined the Wassenaar Arrangement. They agreed
not to supply arms and related technologies to "countries of concern,"
understood to include Iran, Iraq, Libya, and North Korea.
Our ability to hold these other major supplier states to these
commitments has always depended on maintaining a united front. If one
key supplier were to resume sales to Iran, it could be difficult to
persuade others to continue foregoing these highly lucrative sales. It
was with this in mind that we sought the commitment of Russia to
curtail arms sales to Iran.
During their September 1994 Summit, Presidents Yeltsin and Clinton
reached an understanding that Russia would not undertake new contracts
or other agreements to transfer conventional arms to Iran, but that
existing contracts could be fulfilled. President Yeltsin announced
this understanding publicly. This matter was again on the agenda for
the May 1995 Summit, and the subject of public discussion even before
the Summit. In a pre-Summit press briefing, Secretary of State
(Warren) Christopher expressed hope that Russia would join the new
multilateral regime to control exports of conventional weapons and
related dual-use technologies, stating that "the only thing that
stands between Russia joining ... is working out the arrangements with
respect to their sales to Iran, those negotiations are going forward."
Secretary of Defense (William) Perry, when asked about whether
Russia's arms sales to Iran were a reason for alarm, spoke first of
the submarines, noting that two had been delivered and one remained to
be delivered, and then spoke to the more general issue:
We do not see cause for concern on the level and the nature of
conventional arms being transferred. We would prefer they not be
transferred, but we're - quite satisfied with the agreement not to
continue transfer. The Russians have a very, very substantial
capability in conventional arms and conventional arms technology. And
it would give us a very substantial problem if they were to make a
free transfer of those to the Iranians. So I'd like to focus on the
positive side of that, which is their agreement to cut that off after
those present contracts.
The May 1995 Summit resolved the outstanding issues, and a Joint
Statement dated May 10, 1995, reaffirmed that Russia would "undertake
no new contracts or other agreements to transfer arms to Iran. This
commitment is comprehensive and covers both arms and associated
items." The Joint Statement also reaffirmed U.S. support for Russia's
participation as a founding member in a new international export
control regime for the control of arms and sensitive dual-use goods
and technologies. It was also announced that same day that the
Presidents had asked Vice President Gore and Prime Minister
Chernomyrdin "to record the details in an agreement no later than
their meeting in June." The Aide Memoire recording those
understandings was signed the following month.
The U.S. had little direct leverage; we were essentially asking Russia
to forego billions of dollars in arms sales in exchange for membership
in a multilateral group that would only further constrain their arms
sales. But we worked with the leverage that we did have, and through
the dogged determination of our senior officials, Russia agreed to
close out its existing contracts within a few years and agreed not to
sign new contracts for the sale of arms to Iran. Had not the U.S.
secured this commitment, Russia would have been free to provide Iran
with advanced conventional arms, and greater overall quantities of
conventional arms. It would have been able to sell Iran items such as
surface-to-air missiles, items we know that the Iranians sought to
acquire. Instead we were able to get Russia to commit not to sign any
new arms contracts with Iran, thus precluding the sale of weapons that
could provide great threats to U.S. forces, to our allies including
Israel, and to stability in the region.
Of course we would have preferred to have stopped the sale of all
conventional arms to Iran. But this deal precluded the most advanced
conventional weapons from reaching Iran - the very weapons that would
have provided the greatest risks to U.S. interests and those of our
friends and allies (and the very weapons targeted by the Iran-Iraq
Arms Nonproliferation Act).
Much has been made in the press recently about whether the arms
covered under the contract signed in 1991 would adversely affect U.S.
security. There have also been accusations that the 1995 understanding
was not consistent with, or even violated, U.S. sanctions laws, and in
particular, that a commitment was made to ignore U.S. sanctions law. A
further accusation is that the understandings reached are legally
binding obligations, and that all this was kept from Congress. Let me
address each of these allegations in turn.
Was U.S. Security or Regional Stability Jeopardized?
As a key part of the process to resolve the issues addressed in the
Joint Statement and the Aide Memoire, we insisted on an exchange of
information on these pre-existing contracts. The impact of all of the
arms transferred or to be transferred, including the Kilo submarine,
was reviewed by senior military and defense officials, including
senior levels of the Joint Staff. It was their judgment that transfers
under those pre-existing contracts would not provide Iran with new
military capabilities, alter the regional military balance, or
compromise the ability of the U.S. and our allies to protect our
mutual security interests. They judged that the declared pipeline
contained no destabilizing types of advanced conventional weapons.
This judgment extended to the third Kilo-class submarine that Russia
delivered in 1996. Our military judged that while the submarine
represented an added threat to U.S. forces in the Gulf, it was judged
to be manageable. As Dr. Perry noted publicly at the time, it was far
better to obtain the commitment from Russia to forego future sales of
advanced conventional weapons or destabilizing quantities of other
types of military equipment.
Both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House
International Relations Committee were informed about the
understanding in 1995. Then-Deputy Assistant Secretary Robert Einhorn
revisited this issue in open testimony June 5, 1997 before this
Committee, noting that "Russia informed us that one Kilo-class
submarine was expected to be delivered to Iran" and that tanks were
also to be delivered under the pre-existing contracts. "Prior to
concluding the 1995 agreement we made certain that the contracts in
the pipeline did not involve any new weapons systems and would not
alter the regional balance or compromise the ability of the U.S. and
our allies to protect our mutual interests."
Frankly, these were hard calls - but we made an informed decision
with the best advice available, and with the involvement of our senior
military. We judged that we could best protect our security interests
by constraining future sales of Russian advanced conventional weapons,
rather than not entering into the agreement and watching Russia
proceed with sales of the most threatening weapons.
Were Sanctions Laws Ignored?
The 1995 understanding was fully consistent with U.S. law. The
transfers covered under the Aide Memoire were not sanctionable.
The applicability of U.S. sanctions laws was explicitly addressed
within the Executive Branch before we completed the 1995
understanding. After a review of the facts, and with specific input
from and concurrence of the Defense Department and the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, we concluded that sanctions under the Iran-Iraq act would not
be triggered because the items did not meet the definition of
"advanced conventional weapons" under the Act, as explained above, nor
would the types and quantities of arms to be transferred be
destabilizing to the region. These conclusions are supported by the
terms of the Act and its legislative history.
In addition, before we concluded the Aide Memoire, State (Department)
Legal Counsel reviewed other applicable statutes that govern transfers
of lethal military equipment to Iran, and determined that these
statutes did not apply to the arms transfers identified under the
agreement because the contracts had been entered into before the
effective date specified in the legislation.
Some have alleged that the U.S. has not applied the sanctions laws to
Russian transfers of conventional arms to Iran. That is not true, and
indeed the Committee has been previously informed of this in writing.
We can review this for you in detail in a classified setting.
Furthermore, the Aide Memoire does not commit the U.S. not to enforce
the sanctions laws, as has been erroneously suggested. The Aide
Memoire notes that the United States is prepared to take appropriate
steps to avoid any penalties to Russia that might otherwise arise
under domestic law with respect to the completion of the transfers
disclosed in the Annex for so long as the Russian Federation acts in
accordance with these commitments.
The phrase "appropriate steps" in a non-legally binding document
clearly would not compel the Executive Branch to ignore domestic law.
It was drafted this way specifically to allow us to enforce the law,
bearing in mind the Executive Branch in fact had legal means available
to "avoid penalties" - the waiver provisions in both of the
potentially applicable statutes. As noted above, we have never had to
take any steps pursuant to this pledge, for after reviewing the list
of transfers that would be grand- fathered, we determined (before
signing the Aide Memoire) that then existing sanctions laws would not
be triggered by the transfers.
Secretary Albright's January letter to (Russian) Foreign Minister
Ivanov is entirely consistent with the purposes of the Aide Memoire
and the Iran-Iraq Act. Secretary Albright delivered a stern warning
that failure to abide by the restrictions embodied in the Aide Memoire
regarding arms sales to Iran could have serious consequences,
including the possibility of sanctions. In that letter, we were still
seeking clarifications from the Russians regarding the numbers and
types of transfers that they wished to continue beyond the December
31, 1999, deadline. At the time of the letter, those clarifications
had not yet been received. Because it was essential that the U.S.
obtain this information, we felt that it was appropriate to stress the
maximum consequences they might face, depending on further disclosures
about Russian export activity. A variety of discretionary sanctions
were available to us under legal authorities other than the Iran-Iraq
Arms Nonproliferation Act and the lethal military equipment laws,
(e.g., cutting off licenses under the Arms Export Control Act).
We felt this approach would be most effective in persuading the
Russians to provide the needed information. And, indeed, this approach
succeeded in obtaining a reaffirmation of the Russian commitment to
limit the scope of the conventional weapons transfers to those items
covered by the Aide Memoire.
It has always been the case that the transfers subject to the Aide
Memoire do not trigger U.S. sanctions laws. That was our conclusion in
1995, and it has never changed.
Any transfers that are outside of the scope of the Aide Memoire could
of course trigger the sanctions laws, including the Iran-Iraq Arms
Nonproliferation Act and the lethal military equipment laws. We
continue to monitor this closely, and we will apply the law to Russia,
as we have in the past, if Russia completes transactions that trigger
Did We Make Legally-Binding Commitments?
As indicated in public statements from that period, we were prepared
in 1994 to enter into a formal agreement providing legally binding
commitments. After consulting with Russia on how to reflect our
discussions, we instead chose to proceed with political statements and
understandings. Insisting on a formal legal approach would not have
furthered our purpose to stop Russia from signing new arms contracts
with Iran, nor would it have prevented Russia from making sales that
were significant threats to U.S. interests and U.S. security.
The 1995 Summit statements were clearly political undertakings made by
each side. The 1995 Aide Memoire recorded details of those political
Contrary to speculation in the press, a document is not legally
binding solely because it deals with an important matter and there are
commitments made by both sides. The two sides must intend for the
document to be legally binding. That was not the case here - as amply
demonstrated in the text and the negotiating record.
Was Congress Informed of these Understandings?
At no time did we attempt to keep the substance or existence of these
understandings hidden from Congress. They were the subject of White
House press conferences both before and after the 1995 Summit, and the
subject of a Joint Statement from the Summit.
We also briefed Congress on these understandings and accomplishments.
The House International Relations Committee staff was briefed in July
1995. Certain interested House Members, including Chairman (Ben)
Gilman, were briefed in August 1995. As the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee has noted, it was briefed in mid-1995. And the
understandings were recounted in open public testimony before Senate
committees several times, including twice in 1997.
Nuclear Technology and Cooperation
The Executive Branch's policy on blocking nuclear cooperation with
Iran is essentially unchanged since 1985. We have opposed the transfer
of nuclear technology to Iran even under international safeguards,
because of our concerns about its nuclear weapon ambitions. Iran has
lacked the technical wherewithal to succeed in producing nuclear
weapons. Key to constraining Iran's nuclear ambition is to deny it
foreign technology. Since 1992, the greatest challenge to that policy
has been from Russia.
The collapse of the Soviet Union deprived Russia's massive nuclear
industry of its entire foreign market and a significant fraction of
its previous domestic market. Economic imperatives drove Russia to
market its nuclear technology in places where it did not face Western
competition. As a result of the successful informal international
embargo on nuclear transfers to Iran that we had crafted, Iran was
such a market.
Based on an agreement concluded in 1992, the Russians and Iranians
announced in 1994 and early 1995 their intentions to finish a power
reactor originally started by the Germans in Bushehr. We were and
still are opposed to this reactor, not because we believe such a
light-water power reactor under International Atomic Energy Agency
Safeguards itself poses a serious proliferation threat, but because of
our concern that the Bushehr project would be used by Iran as a cover
for maintaining wide-ranging contacts with Russian nuclear entities
and for engaging in more sensitive forms of cooperation with more
direct applicability to a nuclear weapons program.
This agreement between Russia and Iran also contained provisions for
additional power reactors, as well as other technology far more
significant for Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions. We know that
elements of the Russian government were considering the transfer of
centrifuge enrichment technology that would permit production of
highly enriched uranium, and a research reactor of sufficient power to
produce plutonium for nuclear weapons. We knew there were plans to
supply other key nuclear technologies. Altogether, this package of
items would have greatly advanced Iran's ability to produce nuclear
weapons usable material.
The Clinton administration embarked on a high-level diplomatic
campaign to halt this project. Following a series of exchanges between
the President and President Yeltsin, the Russians agreed to scale back
their cooperation with Iran very significantly in 1995. The results of
that effort were reported in The Nonproliferation Primer - A Majority
Report of the Subcommittee on International Security, Proliferation,
and Federal Services of the Senate Committee on Governmental Services:
"Although Moscow was unwilling to cancel the Bushehr project, in 1995
the Administration did persuade President Yeltsin to limit the scope
of Russian nuclear assistance. Yeltsin approved the sale of nuclear
reactors, but ordered Russia's Ministry of Atomic Energy to drop plans
to provide equipment and advice to Iran's effort to mine uranium ore
and process it to use as reactor fuel - assistance that would have
given Iran an independent source of fissile material for nuclear
weapons. (p. 18)"
In fact, President Yeltsin agreed not to supply Iran with any
technology that would put at risk the international nonproliferation
regime. This included the supply of uranium enrichment technology or
the supply of reactors suited for the production of plutonium. The
culmination of this difficult diplomatic campaign was the letter from
Prime Minister Chernomyrdin to Vice President Gore. That letter
codified the limits Russia would impose on itself in cooperating with
Iran. Much of the substance was briefed to the press before and
especially after the May 1995 Moscow Summit. That substance has been
described to Congress through open testimony and a series of
It did not give us everything we wanted, but it did eliminate those
aspects of cooperation with Iran that presented a clear and present
danger to our national security. Without the limits the Russian
government did impose, Iran today would have received hundreds of
millions of dollars worth of sensitive nuclear technology and would be
well on the way to mastering the nuclear fuel cycle.
That is what the Chernomyrdin letter is. Now, let me say what it is
It is not a secret agreement hidden from Congress. The text of the
letter was and is classified, just as have been many other
confidential exchanges undertaken by this and past administrations.
This was a highly sensitive diplomatic negotiation and publicity could
well have brought it down. The letter is still classified. We cannot
discuss its contents in detail in an open session.
We want to be clear on a critical point. Confidentiality is crucial to
many diplomatic negotiations. The diplomatic process on these matters
fortunately has not come to a halt because of recent leaks. But
playing this out in the press can only have a chilling effect on our
ability to continue the process, and could seriously undermine the
U.S. national security interests that are at stake in these
There is in fact a sentence in a letter - quoted in the press - that
indicates the Russians did not want us to brief Congress. That
sentence had no effect. We informed the Russians before the letter was
sent that we would brief Congress, and we informed the Russians
immediately upon its receipt that we would brief the matter to
Congress. The Russians accepted this. We agreed that we would do this
in a confidential manner as we do for many sensitive negotiations.
Briefings were offered to key Senate and House Members in the spring
of 1996. Representatives of the National Security Council, the Office
of the Vice President and the Department of State did the briefings.
Subsequently, we have updated this Committee and others on the
state-of-play of our efforts, both in open testimony and in classified
The administration did not give up its opposition to the Bushehr
reactor. We still oppose it. Our actions in persuading other countries
not to participate in the project have slowed it down. But only a
decision by the Russian government could stop it. The Russian
government has not been prepared to give up the reactor project, at
least in part because of its big price tag.
The administration has not turned a blind eye to Russian activities.
Recently Russian entities - some of them associated with the Ministry
of Atomic Energy - have pursued cooperation with Iran that is not
consistent with the Chernomyrdin assurances. We sanctioned two Russian
entities in January of 1999 as a result. We have also been unstinting
in our day-to-day diplomacy with the Russians to block any transfers.
The administration has made a major effort over the past few months to
bring Russian behavior back into line with the assurance. We cannot
report complete success, but last month the Russians did suspend the
activities of an institute in St. Petersburg that planned to transfer
equipment related to a sophisticated means of uranium enrichment.
I do not want to downplay the current problems we are facing on the
nuclear front, but they are considerably less than what we would be
facing today without the Chernomyrdin assurance. Faced with the choice
of pursuing this at times frustrating diplomatic effort and the
alternative of unconstrained Russian assistance to Iran, we would
choose the former.
I want to conclude my remarks on a personal note. I have served as a
nonproliferation expert for Secretaries of State and administrations
of both parties for nearly 20 years. The arrangements discussed here
today are manifestly in the interests of the United States and of the
effort to halt nuclear proliferation. But, they have powerful
opponents in Moscow. A partisan brawl that drags legitimately
classified material into the newspapers as photo insets can only
benefit Iran. If these arrangements are not in place, Iran will be in
position to acquire new reactors and a wide array of sensitive nuclear
technology. That will not be in the interest of future administrations
of either party or of the American people.
Impeding Iran's WMD and missile delivery systems will remain at the
top of the U.S. national security agenda. Ensuring that Iran does not
acquire destabilizing types and quantities of advanced conventional
weapons is also critical.
Russia is key to both those objectives. We have no alternative but to
continue an active strategy of seeking to thwart Iranian efforts to
procure the material and technologies they need for their
non-conventional programs. That means engaging Russia directly and
actively; working with them to strengthen resolve; assisting them in
strengthening export control laws and regulations; and helping to make
the implementation of those policies, laws, and regulations more
effective. This is a step-by-step, incremental process. There is no
silver bullet, it is a problem that must be worked at many levels,
from many directions, and worked continuously.
By any reasonable standard, our policies have been effective. Since
the signing of the Aide Memoire, Russia has not concluded new
agreements to export arms to Iran, it has not exported advanced
conventional arms to Iran, and in fact it has not even to date
completed shipments under the original 1991 agreement. Iran's efforts
to acquire the types and quantities of arms that would threaten
regional stability have been thwarted.
On the nuclear and missile programs, we see a similar story. We have
succeeded in slowing and complicating Iran's programs and driving up
their costs. We have closed off many of the world's best sources of
advanced technology to Iranian procurement efforts, and forced Iran to
rely on technologies less sophisticated and reliable than would
otherwise be the case. And critically, we have bought additional time.
As Assistant Secretary for Nonproliferation Robert Einhorn testified
before this Committee just last month (September): despite the gains
Iran has made, we do not consider it inevitable that Iran will acquire
nuclear weapons deliverable by long-range missiles.
But avoiding that highly destabilizing outcome, or the threat of
advanced conventional weapons in the region, will require continued
leadership by the United States and the concerted efforts of the
international community, including the active commitment and
cooperation of Russia. We have made important steps. This will
continue to be a key national security priority for this
administration, and we will leave a vastly different situation than
would have been the case had we failed to limit Russia's nuclear and
conventional arms exports to Iran.