Opening Statement


Chairman, Committee on Science

"H.R. 1883, Iran Nonproliferation Act of 1999"

Hearing before the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics

July 13, 1999


In 1993, the Administration invited Russia to participate in the International Space Station to promote nonproliferation by helping Russiaís aerospace industry shift from military to civilian work. Unfortunately, since Russia became a partner, weíve seen reports that it is proliferating weapons technologies to rogue states, raising concerns about U.S. payments to the Russian Space Agency and Russian aerospace industry.

In January 1998, the Director of Central Intelligence testified that Iran had accelerated its missile program with Russian help. Last year, the Administration sanctioned several Russian aerospace enterprises for proliferating. Unfortunately, each new report of Russian proliferation activities raises the possibility that NASA is inadvertently subsidizing the very Russian industries that are helping Iran threaten close U.S. friends and allies in the Middle East and Europe.

As a result, there is a fair amount of concern about Russian behavior and its potential impact on the Space Station. For the good of the Space Station program and the good of U.S.-Russian relations, we must ensure that the Russian government is not facilitating the proliferation of missile technology.

Thatís why I was proud to co-sponsor the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 1999. The bill requires the President to determine whether Russia is assisting Iranís programs to develop weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. That determination will put an end to speculation about the Russia-Iran relationship and whether or not it presents a threat to the Space Station program or our mutual interests in the Middle East. If the President gives Russia a clean bill of health, then NASA, this Committee, and supporters of our space program can rest assured that American tax dollars are not indirectly subsidizing states that do not share our concerns about weapons proliferation. Thatís why I view this as pro-Space Station legislation and probably why some of the Stationís strongest supporters have co-sponsored the bill.

If the President finds that Russia is contributing to Iranís attempts to acquire weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, then the bill prohibits NASA from transferring U.S. tax dollars to the Russian Space Agency and any enterprise under its jurisdiction. Few would suggest that NASA should subsidize a foreign industry that is actively arming unfriendly regimes. Administrator Goldin himself testified before this Committee on October 14, 1993 that NASA could not work with Russia if it violated the MTCR. Ambassador James Collins, representing the White House in hearings before the Committee on April 20, 1994, testified that NASA would have to sever its relations with Russia if the Russians violated the MTCR. Mr. Goldin reconfirmed that on May 6, 1998 in testimony stating that "NASA works with those programs that abide by MTCR. We cannot work with countries that violate that."

NASA has some concerns that Russia will mistakenly view this legislation as an attempt to kick them out of the program. I am confident that NASA and the State Department will succeed in explaining to the Russians that this bill has no impact on their rights or obligations as a full partner in the International Space Station. Certainly, this Committee does not want to see the Russians kicked entirely out of the program. If that were our goal, then we would have done so in H.R. 1883 or any of the NASA authorization bills that this Committee has passed in recent years. While I have always opposed putting the Russian government in the critical path, I continue to support a constructive role for Russia in the International Space Station.

Some outside observers have criticized this legislation by arguing it is inappropriate to link the Space Station to Russian adherence to the MTCR. In fact, that has always been the Administrationís policy. On April 20, 1994 Ambassador Collins responded to a question from Mr. Hall by telling this Committee that "getting Russia into the Missile Technology Control Regime and bringing it into willingness to comply with those guidelines is a very important objective" of bringing them into the Space Station program. Just last year, on May 6, 1998, Duncan Moore, of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, confirmed that strategy of bringing Russia into the Space Station program was to get them to comply with the MTCR. So, I think that criticism is unfounded. This is one case where Congress is supporting the Administrationís long-standing policy.

So, let me thank the Chairman and the ranking member for holding this hearing. It will help give us a solid foundation for proceeding with the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 1999.