The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Burr of North Carolina). Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Fox) is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. FOX of Pennsylvania. Mr. Speaker, I rise tonight in the House to congratulate my colleagues for joining with myself and the gentleman from New York (Mr. Gilman) in passing historic legislation which will stiffen sanctions against Russian organizations that have provided missile hardware and technology to Iran. The legislation imposes a minimum of 2 years of sanctions against Russian organizations and companies identified as having provided missile materials or technology or have tried to since January 22, 1998 when the Russian government issued a decree banning such activity.
The urgency of this legislation is apparent. Thanks to critical assistance from Russian firms, Iran is making steady progress in developing medium- and long-range ballistic missiles which is not in the best interests of the United States or in world peace. Unless something happens soon, Iran may be able to produce its own medium-range missiles within less than a year. If the assistance from Russia continues, Iran soon will be able to produce long-range ballistic missiles as well.
For more than a year, the Clinton administration has been in dialogue with Russia about stopping this assistance. Thanks in large part to the pressure brought to bear by the very legislation we have considered today, some progress has been achieved, at least on paper.
On January 22, the Russian government issued a decree to block the transfer of missile technology to Iran but in the nearly 6 months since this decree was issued it has become apparent that the Russian government is not fully committed to implementing it. Despite progress in some areas, the evidence suggests that at least some elements of the Russian government continue to believe that the transfer of missile technology to Iran serves Russian interests. Congress cannot change the misguided foreign policy calculations of some Russian officials but we can give Russian firms that are in position to sell missile technology to Iran compelling reasons not to do so. The sanctions contained in our legislation will require such firms in Russia and elsewhere to choose between short-term profits when dealing with Iran and potentially far more lucrative long-term economic relations with the United States.
As this legislation was adopted here in the House today, by a 392-22 vote, we hope that we will have similar support in the Senate and the President will sign it. Frankly this is a step in the right direction for protecting this country and for world peace.
I would like to thank the Speaker for this time to address my colleagues and to thank them for their support of this important legislation which came from the Committee on International Relations chaired by the gentleman from New York (Mr. Gilman).