Mr. DASCHLE. Mr. President, I am joining a large bipartisan group of Senators in cosponsoring S. 1311, the Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act of 1997.
This bill addresses one of the most pressing national security problems we face--Iran's efforts to acquire technology that will enable it to build weapons of mass destruction. Certain Russian entities have engaged in some level of cooperation with Iran, and, while the Russian Government does not appear to be aware of these activities, the effect is the same--putting very dangerous technology in the hands of a regime that intends to destabilize.
Mr. President, all Americans share the goal of stopping these technology transfers, but there are clear differences on how to achieve it. The administration has launched an aggressive diplomatic onslaught, pressing the Russian Government to do all it can to halt these activities. Vice President Gore and Secretary of State Albright are fully engaged in this effort. In addition, the President has appointed top diplomat and former Ambassador Frank Wisner as his personal envoy to the Russians on this issue. Ambassador Wisner has made several trips to Russia seeking a crackdown on exports of sensitive technology and has scheduled another visit in several weeks.
I am hopeful this legislation will help the administration in its efforts to impress upon the Russians just how seriously the U.S. Congress takes this issue. Diplomacy clearly plays a critical role in these situations, but so does the tough approach laid out in this bill. The sanctions it provides will send a clear message to Russian entities involved in these technology exchanges that they will face heavy costs if they choose to proceed with business as usual.
The Senate version of the bill is not without its problems, however. Specifically, the bill does not include a provision allowing the President to waive the bill's sanctions if he finds it necessary to do so on national security grounds. The House version of the legislation does include a waiver, and I am hopeful that any final bill will include one. The President needs this discretion in dealing with this extremely difficult situation.
Mr. President, I look forward to continuing to work with the administration and Members on both sides of the aisle to address this critical threat. It is imperative that we all work together in an effort to prevent Iran from acquiring such dangerous and destabilizing technology.