A. Gore - Stepashin Commission (GSC)
1. PM Heading to America, Associated Press (07/23/99)
2. Russia: Prime Minister Expected To Renew Cooperation During U.S.Visit, RFE/RL (07/26/99)
3. 'Partners . . . Should Respect Each Other,' Washington Post(07/25/99)
4. Russia to Dispel US Apprehensions Concerning Iran, Itar-Tass(07/26/99)
5. Russian Nuclear Power Minister Leaves for Washington, Itar-Tass(07/24/99)
B. U.S. - Russia General
1. 'Hot Line' to Connect U.S., Russia, Associated Press (07/26/99)
1. ". . . And a Captive Treaty," Washington Post (07/25/99)
A. Gore - Stepashin Commission (GSC)
PM Heading to America
July 23, 1999
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW (AP) -- With the United States and Russia now cooperating inKosovo, rather than feuding over it, Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin'svisit to Washington next week should help patch up relations that werebadly strained during the Balkans conflict.
Russia's strong opposition to NATO's bombing campaign in Yugoslaviadrove U.S.-Russian relations to their lowest point in the post-Cold Warera. But with the airstrikes over, Russian and NATO forces are jointlymaintaining the peace in Kosovo, and ties between Washington and Moscoware on the mend.
Stepashin, considered a potential presidential candidate in next year'selection, is making his first trip to the United States since PresidentBoris Yeltsin named him prime minister two months ago.
The Russian premier, who arrives in Seattle on Sunday, will be hosted byVice President Al Gore, who has held an ongoing dialogue with successiveRussian prime ministers.
While this round will help re-establish the tenor of U.S.-Russiarelations, it holds none of the drama of the last planned session inMarch.
Russia's then-Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov turned his plane aroundover the Atlantic Ocean and returned to Moscow rather than set foot inWashington just as NATO's bombing campaign was about to begin.
``This visit will be significant because Stepashin is not well-known inthe United States, yet he could be a leading presidential contender nextyear,'' said Sergei Markov, an independent political analyst withRussia's Institute for Political Studies.
``It's important for him to meet with the American elite, and to presenthimself as a credible figure,'' Markov said.
The talks are expected to focus on familiar issues that remainunresolved: Russia's chronic economic woes, prospects for Russianratification of the START II arms control treaty, and U.S. concernsabout the spread of Russian nuclear technology.
From Stepashin's perspective, the most critical part of his missioncould come when his delegation checks on the status of loan requests atthe World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Russia has been starved of international assistance since its financialmarkets imploded last August, and both lenders are reviewing Russia'seconomy to determine whether they should proceed with tentative loanagreements.
The Russian economy has been relatively stable in recent months. But thegovernment has not solved any of the serious, long-term problems, suchas the crippled banking system, the huge foreign debt burden, and thestate's inability to collect taxes.
Stepashin, 47, had spent his entire career as a security and legalofficial, serving as interior minister prior to becoming prime minister.He had no previous experience in economic or foreign affairs and has not
introduced any major initiatives since taking office in May.
He has sought to portray himself as a competent manager and astabilizing force in a country rocked by repeated political and economicupheavals. Stepashin is staunchly loyal to Yeltsin, and so far has beenunable or unwilling to stake out any strong positions that the presidenthas not authorized in advance.
Stepashin will visit the airplane manufacturer Boeing in Seattle beforetraveling on to Washington. In the U.S. capital, he is to meet withPresident Clinton and other top U.S. officials in addition to his talkswith Gore.
Russia: Prime Minister Expected To Renew Cooperation During U.S.Visit
July 26, 1999
(for personal use only)
Boston, 23 July 1999 (RFE/RL) -- Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin isexpected to renew cooperation with Washington next week as he meets withVice President Al Gore in Russia's first high-level visit to the UnitedStates since the war over Kosovo.
The summit on science and technology issues will also be the first sincethe dismissal last year of former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdinbrought an end to the regular meetings of the group known as theGore-Chernomyrdin Commission. A scheduled meeting in March failed tomaterialize when former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov cancelled hisWashington visit because of NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia.
Despite the long backlog of technical issues between the two countries,the one-day Gore-Stepashin meeting on Tuesday will be too brief for afull agenda of agreements that characterized the Chernomyrdin talks, aGore spokesman said Thursday. The meeting will touch on economic issuesand trade, as well as arms control, the official said.
Stepashin will also address U.S.-Russian trade groups at a dinner Mondaynight in an appearance aimed at restoring business confidence followingthe frequent government changes since the ruble crisis of last August17. A meeting with President Bill Clinton in the Oval Office is alsoplanned.
Although the trip will nearly coincide with a vote on new loans by theboard of the International Monetary Fund next Wednesday, an IMF officialsaid this week that no meetings with Stepashin are expected. But if allgoes well, the IMF may approve $4.5 billion in new financing for Russiaby the time Stepashin returns to Moscow.
The broad assurance of cooperation may be the biggest accomplishment ofthe Gore-Stepashin meeting at a time when Russia has tentatively movedto restore its broken liaison links with NATO. Stepashin may be eager toportray an image of superpower status and stability, while Gore as apresidential candidate may assume the statesman's role.
But arms control advocates in the United States are demanding someserious and difficult policy decisions from the meeting. Alan Kuperman,a senior policy analyst for the independent Nuclear Control Institute inWashington called for a change in a key plutonium agreement in an op-edpage piece published Thursday by The Boston Globe.
Kuperman told RFE/RL that a 1997 Gore-Chernomyrdin agreement to haltRussia's production of weapons-grade plutonium could have dangerousconsequences because Russian reactors would convert their operations touse highly-enriched uranium instead.
The two reactors at Seversk, previously called Tomsk, and one atZheleznogorsk, formerly Krasnoyarsk, would stop producing plutonium, thekey fuel for nuclear bombs. But because the reactors also makeelectricity and steam for local use, they would be kept going withsupplies of highly-enriched uranium, which is also a nuclear weaponsmaterial. The distribution and transport of the bomb-grade uranium fromold weapons and stockpiles represents a major security risk, Kupermansaid. Zheleznogorsk also processes the spent fuel from Russian andUkrainian nuclear power plants.
Small pellets of the highly-enriched uranium can be easily stolen ordiverted to bomb programs in other countries. The solution would be toconvert the reactors to use low-enriched uranium, which cannot be usedin bombs. But Kuperman said the idea is being resisted for politicalreasons.
Although scientists of Russia's Ministry of Atomic Energy have supportedthe conversion to low-enriched uranium, top Minatom officials reportedlyremain committed to using an old plant at Novosibirsk, which can onlyproduce highly-enriched uranium. Minatom chief Yevgeny Adamov isexpected to travel with the prime minister to Washington.
A more versatile plant at Elektrostal near Moscow could be used to turnweapons material into low-enriched uranium for reactor fuel. But Minatomhas stuck to its plan that would allow it to extract somehighly-enriched uranium from the fuel even after it is used,perpetuating the proliferation risk, Kuperman said.
In a letter to U.S. arms control groups seeking the change, Gorereportedly agreed to pursue development of the low-enriched uraniumalternative but said he has decided to go ahead with the originalreactor plan initially, rather than risk losing the agreement. Aspokesman for the vice president had no immediate comment. The UnitedStates plans to spend $300 million to upgrade the Russian reactors.
The difficulty seems to reflect the high value placed by both sides inavoiding further setbacks. Although the pace of new agreements and theimplementation of old ones has slowed since the days ofGore-Chernomyrdin, Russia recognizes that there are continuing economicbenefits from keeping cooperation alive.
While Stepashin may wish to show his leadership on his first visit toWashington as prime minister, he is also likely to be wary of achievingmajor breakthroughs. After Chernomyrdin made headlines with his lasttrip to Washington in March 1998, President Boris Yeltsin fired himwithin a matter of days.
'Partners . . . Should Respect Each Other'
July 25, 1999
(for personal use only)
This week, Russian Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin will meet here withVice President Gore and President Clinton, both of whom are eager topatch up differences with Russia that emerged during the Kosovo war.Although Stepashin is expecting the approval of a new $4.5 billion loanfrom the International Monetary Fund and is expecting to receive a warmwelcome at the Clinton White House, rumors circulate in Moscow that hewill not last. Stepashin, 47, who became prime minister in mid-May,admits he's aware of the rumors, but no one--except perhaps Stepashin'spatron, the politically capricious Boris Yeltsin--can predict theKremlin's next move.
On the eve of his first trip to Washington, Stepashin sat in the Russian"White House" and spoke expansively about his intent to repair theU.S.-Russia relationship during an interview with Newsweek contributingeditor and Washington Post columnist Lally Weymouth. Excerpts follow:
What do you hope to achieve in your meeting with Vice President Gore?
I had a number of telephone conversations at a difficult time with thevice president during the Kosovo settlement. I had the impression thatthe vice president and I understood each other, although we werespeaking through interpreters.
There are two tasks I hope to accomplish during the visit. The first isto get to know Gore. I believe good personal contact can be helpful insolving difficult questions. Second, we're going to discuss economicmatters such as [Russian rocket] launches [of U.S. satellites] and steelquotas. Then we will discuss the reconstruction of Kosovo andYugoslavia. I would [also] like to find out what the vice presidentthinks about the ABM and START II [arms control] treaties.
How much damage has Kosovo done to the U.S.-Russia relationship?
No doubt, serious damage has been done. However, I believe that ourrelationship is stable and can't be shattered even by the war inYugoslavia. We should draw lessons from Yugoslavia: If we are partners,and we are serious partners, we should respect each others' positionsand strive for compromise before military action begins. . . . At themoment, we are at an impasse. We are very concerned with NATOenlargement and expansion.
The administration has linked an increase in the number of Russianlaunches of U.S. satellites to a cutback in supplies of missile andnuclear technology from Russia to Iran. Has Russia stopped supplyingIran?
Nobody has proved that it is Russia who supplies missile technologies toIran. . . .
Obviously, the United States has sanctioned companies here, so theUnited States [must] believe Russian entities continue to proliferateweapons of mass destruction.
The more restrictions that are placed on Russia, the more difficultiesthere are for investments to come to Russian markets, the more ourcompanies--in order to survive--will seek any outlet to market theirgoods, even using shady deals.
The trade relationship between the United States and Russia is uneasy.Russia wants to sell more steel in the U.S. market, and America wantsmore access to Russian markets for aircraft. What solution do you see,and when is Russia going to join the WTO [World Trade Organization]?
We shall join the WTO. The only problem is the date of our entry. I'vementioned already the problem of steel exports. I should not hide [thefact] that U.S. restrictions dealt a serious blow to our steel market. Iwould like to note that Vice President [Gore] has supported me. But Iunderstand that the president and vice president must take Congress andthe steel lobby into account now that elections are coming up. I alsowant to raise the issue of the aerospace industry--I am going to Seattleto visit Boeing and will discuss cooperation.
Rumors are swirling that you won't last long as prime minister. Is thereany truth to the reports? Do you plan to be a presidential candidate?Who is seeking to undermine you?
If I give you an open and frank answer, I would be sacked immediately. Ajoke. Of course, there are such rumors, and in a situation of politicalinstability with elections coming up, such rumors are inevitable. Idon't pay much attention because I have been in politics for 10 yearsand have learned to ignore such rumors. What is most important is howone's colleagues and family feel. . . .
As for the presidential election, there are many candidates for the job,but the balance of forces will be clear after the elections to theparliament in December. At that time, we shall probably know who thepresident will support. If you want to ask who I will vote for, I willnot cite a name but I will cite two criteria: First, it must be a personwho will not lead us backward and second, I would not want this personto be of pension age.
Will you be a candidate yourself?
It is too early to say now.
Would you rule out being a candidate for the presidency?
I'm 47 years old and I have no plans to retire.
Did the military or the president order the Russian troops to march intothe airport at Pristina [Kosovo] without NATO's knowledge? The foreignminister said he was unaware of the action. Were you?
I believe the episode can be explained by a lack of coordination betweenour military and NATO.
It's reported that General [Anatoly] Kvashnin [chief of the Russiangeneral staff] was in charge that night.
Kvashnin is a very disciplined general and would never make a decisionlike that himself.
Without the president or yourself ordering it?
I am the prime minister, not commander of the armed forces. Of course,the president is the commander in chief.
President Yeltsin has spoken openly about banning the Communist Party.What do you think of the idea?
I would take a different approach to this question. It's not a matter ofbanning or not banning the Communist Party. It is a question of any bigpolitical party like the Communists complying with the constitution.[They must not] talk about toppling the government or fan ethnictensions by their electoral rhetoric. This is a serious concern for us.There are other ways to influence political parties--through theMinistry of Justice, the prosecutor's office and the courts. All theselevers will be actively used.
I understand that the IMF board will soon grant Russia the loan it hasbeen seeking. Will you be able to meet the general conditions the IMFhas laid down for Russia?
Mostly, the loan we are getting from the IMF will be used to repay ourdebt to the organization [the IMF]. On the other hand, the World Bankwill provide additional loans for the reconstruction of the coalindustry and for other programs.
Only one year after [last August's] default, we've already gotten realresults in industry and agriculture, despite the drought. [We've madeprogress] in restructuring the banking system and in containinginflation. Iam fully convinced that between now and the end of next year, Russiawill not see any major economic and financial shocks because of the workof my government. Our primary task for the long-term is developing afree and attractive investment climate.
What about the ongoing war in Chechnya? Are you trying to contain thewar from spilling over into Dagestan? Do you see a threat to Russia?
We are trying to stop the strife from going not only to Dagestan, butalso to the Stavropol region. We are working every day on this.
The most important thing is to improve economic conditions there. Thereare many Chechens without work or shelter. We should make sure thatgangsters do not use the idea of independence as a cover for theircrimes.
The problem of Chechnya's constitutional status [it is part of theRussian federation, though effectively independent] is complicated. Weare now preparing a meeting between Chechen President Aslan Maskhadovand President Yeltsin. I am personally engaged in this.
You know I fought in Chechnya. . . . NATO partially repeated our bitterexperience when they conducted airstrikes against Yugoslavia and Kosovo.I believe it is an unproductive idea to defend human rights withweapons.
People say that corruption and organized crime are huge problems in thiscountry. What can you do about it?
I won't deny that there is a problem with corruption and organized crimein Russia. However, it is exaggerated by the media and the politicians.The most important problem is economic crime. A special department hasbeen set up in the Interior Ministry to fight money laundering. And wehave very goodrelations with the American law enforcement agencies including the FBIand [FBI Director] Louis Freeh. We cooperate on drug smuggling andorganized crime.
In conclusion, I would like to convey my deep condolences to the Kennedyfamily. Russians are very nostalgic about the Kennedys. And we are verysorry that such a good young man died so senselessly.
Russia to Dispel US Apprehensions Concerning Iran
July 26, 1999
(for personal use only)
WASHINGTON, July 26 (Itar-Tass) -- Russian Prime Minister SergeiStepashin said that he intended to try and dispel the U.S. apprehensionsconcerning cooperation between Russian organisations and Iraq.
Stepashin said in an interview with CBS television which was broadcaston the day of his arrival in the United States on Sunday: "Let us checkto what extent the products delivered by Russia can be used to developmilitary and other technologies. To what extent some of our enterpriseshave really violated theexisting accords. If this proves to be really the case, the Russianleadership is prepared to take tough and adequate measures along theline of the Minatom (ministry of atomic energy) and the line of theseenterprises." But if the U.S. apprehensions are proved ungrounded, "thenlet the unilateral restrictionsimposed by the United States against these enterprises be lifted,"Stepashin said.
The economic sanctions against the Russian enterprises suspected byWashington of cooperation with Iran in the missile and nuclear fieldhave already been in effect for several months. Washington black-listedthe Baltic state technical university, Europalace-2000, the Glavkosmosstate organisation, the Grafit research institute, the INOR research andproduction centre, the MOSO firm, the Moscow aviation institute and theMendeleyev chemical and technological university, as well as the Energytechnology research and designinstitute.
Russian Nuclear Power Minister Leaves for Washington
July 24, 1999
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW, July 24 (Itar-Tass) - Russian Minister of Nuclear Energy YevgenyAdamov on Saturday leaves for Washington, USA, to take part in a sessionof the Russian-American cooperation commission co-chaired by RussianPrime Minister Sergei Stepashin and U.S. Vice-President Albert Gore.
Adamov and his American colleague Bill Richardson, who both co-chair thenuclear power committee, will tell the meeting about what has been donein this area.
Basic attention will be focused on the implementation of the 1993agreement on the use of uranium from nuclear weapons. Under thisagreement, within 20 years Russia will deliver to the United States 500tons of uranium processed from highly enriched into low-enriched, whilethe United States is to pay Russiacompensation for the natural uranium used in this process.
B. U.S. - Russia General
'Hot Line' to Connect U.S., Russia
July 26, 1999
(for personal use only)
SINGAPORE (AP) -- Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and RussianForeign Minister Igor Ivanov announced today they are establishing acommunications ``hot line'' to avoid future misunderstandings duringtimes of crisis.
It will be in addition to the secure communications link that hasconnected the White House and the Kremlin since early in the Cold Warera.
Both leaders, at a joint news conference, said sharp differences remainover NATO's air campaign in the Balkans but that relations betweenMoscow and Washington are on the mend.
``We both said to each other that the U.S.-Russia relationship was soimportant and so broad that it could not be damaged,'' Albright said.
The two met over dinner during a meeting of Southeast Asian leaders andtheir Asian and Pacific partners.
Yugoslavia is a historic ally of Russia and many Russians still resentthe NATO bombing campaign.
Ivanov said the airstrikes, which Russia strongly opposed, hurt therelationship. ``That is why we should redouble our efforts now that wehave turned the corner,'' he said.
Asked if Russia would like to see someone other than Slobodan Milosevicin power, Ivanov said the Yugoslav people didn't ``need any promptingfrom the outside. They're capable of making up their own mind.''
He said Russia wants a stable relationship with the United States ^Ö withno surprises.
The `hot line' between their private offices should help the twodiplomatscommunicate quickly to avoid confusion and misunderstandings,both said.
At the conclusion of the conflict, for instance, the United States wascaught off guard when Russian troops beat NATO forces into Kosovo,seizing control of the airport in the provincial capital of Pristina.
That led to a rocky period, with Russian and NATO sparring over thenature of the Russian peacekeeping component in Kosovo.
However, Albright suggested she was satisfied with the current role ofthe Russians and their level of participation.
``U.S. and Russian forces are serving side by side,'' she said.
Turning to arms control, Ivanov said members of Russian President BorisYeltsin's government would redouble their efforts to try to persuade theRussian parliament to ratify the 1993 Start II treaty.
The treaty, already ratified by the U.S. Senate, would cut Russian andAmerican nuclear stockpiles to a maximum of 3,000 warheads each.
The Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, was on the verge oftaking it up in late 1998, but action was put off after the U.S. aircampaigns against first Iraq and then Yugoslavia.
". . . And a Captive Treaty"
The Washington Post
July 25, 1999
(for personal use only)
THE CLINTON administration has cranked up a necessary campaign toliberate the nuclear test ban treaty from the parliamentary grip of thesame Sen. Jesse Helms who has endorsed Richard Holbrooke's U.N.nomination. The senator is holding the treaty hostage to a personalagenda: to move the United States immediately rather than at theadministration's more measured pace to national missile defense and tospike the Kyoto global warming treaty. In hijacking the test ban, he isunswayed by the argument that in fairness the Senate deserves anopportunity to debate and judge the treaty on its merits. One wonderswhy his colleagues, of whatever party or test ban persuasion, let him goon.
To be sure, the test ban is not without controversy. Some people acceptthe Clinton view that the ban would help curb the creating and expandingof nuclear forces by others -- a goal of the utmost consequence toAmerican security. Others see it as a potential threat to a viablelong-term American nuclear posture as current weapons age. "However,"says a leading specialist, Leon Sloss, "all but the most extreme fringes[of those holding the latter view] accept the [test ban] as a 'donedeal.' " It has been debated internationally for 40 years. The treatyitself has chalked up 152 signatures and 41 ratifications so far.
Perhaps the single most telling judgment of the test ban came in thelast of seven hearings Sen. Helms chaired this year on the 1972Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, his vehicle for advancing missiledefense. His star witness on May 26, former secretary of state HenryKissinger, gave his latest views -- positive -- on missile defense. Sen.Bill Frist then asked him about the test ban. Noting the "constraints"it would place, he said: "I think we have an arms control objective, andmust have, to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. And anythingthat makes it more difficult to develop more nuclear weapons, I would,in principle, favor."
The test ban makes it more difficult to develop more nuclear weapons. Inshort, you can have your test ban and your missile defense, too. Missiledefense is moving along. Free the test ban treaty.