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Nuclear News - 09/15/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 15 September 1999


  1. Cohen Visits Russian Submarine Destruction Sites, Reuters(09/14/99)
  2. Cohen visits Russia's nuclear submarine shipyards, AssociatedPress (09/14/99)
  1. Russians May Have Tested Nuclear Device Underground, WashingtonTimes (09/15/99)
  1. William Cohen DOESN'T Expect this Duma to Ratify Start-2,Itar Tass (09/14/99)
D. Y2K
  1. U.S.-Russia, Agree to Joint Monitoring, UPI(09/13/99)
  2. Russia: Fears Of Y2K Malfunctions Prevail, RFE/RL(09/14/99)
E. U.S. – Russia General
  1. Nobody Lost Russia, Washington Post (09/14/99)
  2. Congressional leaders blast Clinton's Russia policy, Reuters(09/14/99)
  3. Republicans Step Up Attack on Clinton's Russia Policy, NewYork Times (09/15/99)

Cohen Visits Russian Submarine Destruction Sites
        September 14, 1999
        (for personal use only)

SEVERDOVINSK, Russia (Reuters) - Defense Secretary William Cohen flewto the White Sea in northern Russia Tuesday to see the destruction of Russianmissile submarines under nuclear arms control treaties with Washington.

Cohen, ending a two-day Russian visit aimed at improving bilateral militaryties after a six-month chill sparked by the Kosovo crisis, visited shipyardsoperating under contracts to destroy Delta and Typhoon subs that once carriedwarheads aimed at the United States.

He landed at Arkhangelsk en route from Moscow to Washington and wasthen driven to Severdovinsk, a city more than 600 miles north of the Russiancapital.

There Cohen visited the Zvezdochka State Machine Building Enterprise,the world's largest shipyard facility, to see the ongoing elimination ofolder Delta Class subs.

He watched a giant mechanical guillotine chop a Delta-3 submarine intoscrap metal.

Cohen then went to the Sev Marsh Production Association where Russiaplans shortly to begin destroying five of its six massive Typhoons, whichare 500 feet long.

Cohen praised Moscow's work in destroying 12 ballistic missile submarinesto date and said he hoped ongress would continue its financial supportof an effort which will result in the destruction of 19 more submarinesby 2003.

"The United States has destroyed 23 submarines and some 368 submarineballistic missiles as called for by the START-1 agreement," he told a newsconference.

START-1 aims to bring the total number of nuclear warheads on each sidedown to 6,000.

Cohen also urged the Russian parliament to ratify START-2, already approvedby the U.S. Senate, which would further reduce the number of warheads to3,000 and allow formal negotiations on a START-3 treaty to slash the numberto 2,000 warheads each.

In a radio interview in Moscow Monday, Cohen said the United Stateshad already committed $1.7 billion to help Russia destroy nuclear weaponsunder the "Cooperative Threat Reduction Program" and would allocate another$2.7 billion over the next six to seven years to further reduce those nuclearweapons.

Cohen presented a piece of the destroyed U.S. nuclear submarine GeorgeWashington to Russia's First Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Mikhailov.

Mikhailov praised the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. "It allowsus to feel safer and opens up the door for many chances for cooperationin the 21st century," he said.

Monday Cohen held talks in Moscow with Russian Defense Minister IgorSergeyev on a range of issues including arms control, peacekeeping andthe fight against terrorism.

His trip has been billed as an effort to put U.S.-Russian military tiesback on track after the Yugoslav crisis. Moscow had strongly opposed theNATO alliance's bombing campaign against its traditional Serb allies.

Cohen's talks Monday coincided with the third explosion to rock Moscowin 10 days and he vowed U.S. help for Russia in the fight against internationalterrorism.

"We are prepared to work together with you to share whatever informationwe can, to share whatever abilities we wage an effective fightagainst terrorism," Cohen said.

He said specific measures had not yet been discussed, but he promisedthat the two countries would share intelligence, technical and otherinformation.

Monday Cohen and Sergeyev also discussed ways of amending the 1972Anti-BallisticMissile (ABM) treaty to take into account U.S. concerns about what it seesas the growing threat of a limited attack from rogue nations.

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Cohen visits Russia's nuclear submarine shipyards
        Anna Dolgov
        Associated Press
        September 14, 1999
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW (AP) - U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen on Tuesday visitedRussian military shipyards in the Arctic, where nuclear submarines arebeing dismantled under a program partly funded by the United States.

On the last day of his stay in Russia, Cohen flew to the city of Severodvinskto tour Russian defense sites and submarine shipyards and see the firstTyphoon-class submarine awaiting dismantling.

The Pentagon is helping finance Russian submarine dismantlement underthe "cooperative threat reduction program."

The program started in the early 1990s to provide American technicalassistance to the former Soviet Union to eliminate weapons of mass destruction.

Cohen met with Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev on Monday in aneffort to negotiate a modification to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treatyso that the United States can build a limited missile defense system.

Russia bitterly opposes the plan.

Cohen reported no breakthroughs after the talks, but said he was optimisticthe sides would eventually be able to reach agreement.

Washington says a national missile defense system would be designedto shoot down a few missiles that could be launched by a rogue nation.It argues the system would not upset strategic stability because it wouldnot be effective against a massive attack of the kind Russia is capableof launching.

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Russians May Have Tested Nuclear Device Underground
        Bill Gertz
        Washington Times
        September 15, 1999
        (for personal use only)

U.S. intelligence agencies detected an underground explosion at a remoteRussian military site earlier this month that analysts believe was a smallnuclear test, The Washington Times has learned.

Reports of the Sept. 8 blast at Russia's Novaya Zemlya testing sitehighlight the problem of verifying an anti-testing agreement now beingconsidered by the Senate for ratification, said Clinton administrationofficials and congressional aides.

``There was an event, but it is unclear what the event was, and we'restill looking into it,'' said a senior U.S. intelligence official.

The official said the event could have been a small nuclear blast ora conventional explosion that did not reach critical mass.

``We just don't know at this point,'' the official said.

A defense official, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, saidthe test was a small nuclear blast. The nuclear yield, however, was smallenough to avoid detection by most seismic-monitoring equipment around theworld.

Pentagon and State Department officials had no immediate comment.

Pentagon intelligence agencies, which employ very sophisticated datacollection gear, were able to detect the blast, this official said. Pentagonintelligence agencies are in charge of what is called measurement and signalsintelligence, or MASINT.

``This looks like a covert nuclear test,'' the defense official said.

However, the senior intelligence official said it is too soon to knowwhether the blast was a nuclear test.

The event may have been a ``subcritical'' nuclear experiment – a conventionalexplosion that stops short of a nuclear chain reaction - that is permittedunder the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

The officials said the latest blast at Novaya Zemlya was similar toearlier Russian nuclear tests that left intelligence experts divided.

A special CIA panel concluded in September 1998 that the seismic eventat Novaya Zemlya detected on Aug. 16, 1998, was either a large conventionalexplosive used in testing nuclear weapons, or a rare underwater earthquake.

U.S. intelligence agencies also detected what is believed to have beena small Chinese underground nuclear test in June.

Pentagon officials said that explosion took place at China's remoteLop Nur testing facility in northwestern Xinjiang province. The test wasdetected on June 12 or 13, although analysts also were unsure whether itproduced a nuclear yield.

The Sept. 8 Russian blast comes at a bad time for the Clinton administration,which is beginning a major political effort in the Senate to win ratificationof the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The treaty bans all nuclear testing,and a Russian nuclear test would violate Moscow's commitment to the treaty.

Sen. Byron L. Dorgan, North Dakota Democrat, announced last week thathe will block consideration of all appropriations bills until the Senatedebates and eventually votes on the test-ban treaty.

A senior Republican aide said that, as a result of the move, SenateRepublicans could bring the treaty up for debate and a vote in the nexttwo weeks.

The senior aide said Republicans are confident the treaty can be voteddown. ``We are preparing for the near term consideration - and defeat -of the treaty,'' the aide said.

``This treaty has no relevance and indeed is counter to U.S. nationalsecurity interests,'' he said in an interview. ``It won't stop nuclearweapons proliferation; it is not verifiable; and in fact it will hinderour ability to monitor other nations' nuclear programs.''

The aide said reports of a small Russian nuclear test raise furtherquestions about the test-ban treaty.

``There is no agreement among the parties to the treaty as to what ispermitted and what is not,'' the aide said. ``The Russians don't believethat it prohibits nuclear weapons tests.''

If the Sept. 8 blast was a nuclear test, ``this is further proof'' ofthe treaty's shortcomings, the aide said.

Another Senate aide said the test ban treaty had no definition of whatnuclear tests are banned. At that same time, a senior Russian nuclear officialhas stated repeatedly that Moscow is continuing to develop ``low-yield''nuclear weapons. Such weapons could not be built without nuclear testsprohibited by the treaty, the aide said.

In the past, Russian government officials have denied Western reportsabout its nuclear tests at Novaya Zemlya.

However, in December, a senior Russian defense official said five nucleartests were carried out at the Novaya Zemlya test range. The official saidthe tests were ``subcritical'' experiments allowed under the treaty.

The Sept. 8 test is the latest of a string of Russian nuclear teststhat have puzzled U.S. intelligence agencies. Other events were detectedin January 1996 and August 1997.

In 1997, the State Department sent a formal diplomatic protest noteabout that test and was told the activity was an earthquake - even thoughthe region near Novaya Zemlya is known for having little earthquake activity.

U.S. officials believe that Russia's Defense Ministry, which is in chargeof nuclear weapons development and testing, has found ways to conduct smallnuclear blasts without having them detected by international monitors.

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William Cohen DOESN'T Expect this Duma to Ratify Start-2
         Itar Tass
         September 14, 1999
         (for personal useonly)

SEVERODVINSK, the Arkhangelsk region, September 14 (Itar-Tass) - U.S.Defense Secretary William Cohen does not think this State Duma will ratifythe START-2. A statement to the effect was made by Cohen on Tuesday inSeverodvinsk he was visiting to see the utilization of nuclear-poweredsubmarines with the American assistance.

He drew the conclusion from meetings with Duma deputies and the Russianmilitary. In the words of Cohen, the future elections hamper that move.He is sure that the START-2 will be ratified by the new parliament. Afterthat the sides can start implementing the START-3, under which the numberof nuclear warheads will be cut to 3,000 for each, the Secretary noted.

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D. Y2K

U.S.-Russia, Agree to Joint Monitoring
        September 13, 1999
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON, Sept. 13 (UPI) _ The United States and Russia have agreedto establish a joint missile warning center to bridge any possible computerproblems when the new century dawns, the Pentagon announced.

The Center for Year 2000 Strategic Stability will allow Russian andU.S. military officers to monitor global missile and space launch dataside-by-side in a special facility in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Defense Secretary William Cohen and Russian Federation Defense MinisterIgor Sergeyev in Moscow today signed a joint statement indicating an intentto establish the center.

In Moscow, Russian Defense Ministry officials tell United Press International10 Russian specialists will leave for Colorado Springs in December as partof the joint Y2K monitoring project at the facility.

Construction of the $8 million center is already under way at PetersonAir Force Base, Colo.

The center will be manned from mid-December 1999 to mid-January 2000,and will continuously monitor unclassified U.S. early warning data. Theofficers will be in telephone contact with command centers in both theUnited States and Russia.

Both countries assert their nuclear arsenals are ``year 2000 compliant''and will not malfunction when the century turns.

``We aren't doing this because we have any anticipation of a problem...but to provide a buffer against problems that might arise,'' a seniorPentagon official said last week. ``We are not teetering on the edge ofa potential false launch.''

The project had been on hold for about four months because of Russianobjections to the U.S.-led war against Yugoslavia, its traditional ally.Negotiations on the center, begun in February 1999 and cut off in April,resumed early this month after the Russian ministry of defense and theRussian Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the Pentagon they were ready tobegin talking again.

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Russia: Fears Of Y2K Malfunctions Prevail
        K.P. Foley
        September 14, 1999
        (for personal use only)

Washington, 14 September 1999 (RFE/RL) -- Despite some progress anda change in official attitudes, U.S. policymakers still say Russia is notand will not be prepared for the widely anticipated computer problems predictedby some to occur when the year 1999 rolls over into the year 2000.

The expected problems are known collectively as the "millennium bug,"or simply as "Y2K," (for Year 2000). The fear is that computers that controleverything from bank transactions to nuclear power grids will misread theend-of-the-year changeover in dates and malfunction.

The United States government has spent tens of millions of dollars upgradingcomputer systems to avoid any problems with massive computer breakdowns.Private businesses in the U.S. have also invested millions in computerupgrades. Washington is confident that the U.S. will be ready for the newyear. Officials have said that any computer problems are likely to be minorand will not cause disruptions in the life of the nation.

Officials, however, are not so sure about the rest of the world, especiallyRussia. U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Connecticut) is the vice-chairmanof a Senate committee reviewing Y2K readiness issues in the U.S. and aroundthe world. He told a recent press briefing that there are legitimateexpectationsof "serious disruptions in Russian communications, banking and energy.

"With the relative instability of a region that is still strugglingto define itself, the impact of Y2K is immeasurable. Economically Russiais only treading water -- and that's being optimistic quite candidly --struggling to keep its head up. The commercial implications of a computerproblem of the magnitude of Y2K, which could easily strike at the heartof an already vulnerable economy ought to be a concern to everyone."

The principal fear, however, is the security of the Russian nuclearweapons command and control system. U.S. officials have said several timesthey are worried that outmoded Soviet computer equipment could fail atthe New Year, leading to the specter of a spontaneous launch of a nuclearmissile.

Senator Dodd noted that "Since the end of the Cold War nations of theworld have remained concerned about the safety and the control of nuclearweapons in the former Soviet Union, a fear more than 7,000 nuclear warheadsstill exist with over 1,300 delivery systems. A fear of the Y2K-relatedmalfunctions of these systems, specifically faulty early-warning systems,should be a matter and is a matter of great concern."

Dodd expressed relief that talks between Washington and Moscow onestablishinga joint nuclear weapons system monitoring center specifically aimed ateasing Y2K fears resumed recently. Russia suspended participation in thetalks when the U.S. and its NATO allies began last spring's military campaignagainst Yugoslavia. However, U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen and RussianDefense Minister Igor Sergeyvev on Monday signed an agreement to placeRussian military officers at a monitoring center in Colorado to observeU.S. missile warning data during the year 2000 computer transition.

Dodd said the U.S.-based center will "facilitate cooperation andcommunicationso that the world remains safe and peaceful during the New Year holidaysand immediately thereafter."

Dodd also warned of other potential problems, particularly in the nuclearpower industry, in Russia and other regions of the former Soviet Union.He said:

"And let's not also forget that there are many Chernobyl-type facilitieswithin the borders of the former Soviet Union -- 16, to be exact. No oneis expecting any sort of catastrophic nuclear meltdown because of Y2K.On the other hand, the 16 of the Chernobyl-type facilities within the bordersof the former Soviet Union -- we need to have a very clear understandingthat Y2K failures will not create immediately safety hazards for the peoplein these countries and beyond their borders.

"However, the computers controlling daily operations may well experienceproblems that impact safety operations. The stability of these nuclearpower plants is among Russia's highest priorities. In fact, Russia nuclearpower experts will meet with their U.S. counterparts this week to participatein regulatory exercises."

Dodd said he believes that it is "clearly in our self-interests do everything possible to assist the Russian Federation." Dodd saidthat, allegations of official corruption in Moscow and criminal theft ofinternational aid aside, Russia must not be left to
struggle alone with the Y2K issue. Said Dodd:

"This is a real problem, it's a serious one, the Y2K issue is. It'ssomething we know something about where we can play a positive and constructiverole without humiliating people in Russia, as we try to get them to bemore cooperative and to work with us on other issues.

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E. U.S. – Russia General

Nobody Lost Russia
        Richard Cohen
        Washington Post
        September 14, 1999
        (for personal use only)

I would like to begin this disquisition on Russia -- Who lost it andwhere has it gone? -- with an account of that day long ago when a certainMr. Smith went into the ocean for a dip and was never seen to come out.In short order, the lifeguards were diving for him, his wife was weepingfor him and a crowd had gathered on the beach. Among the curious, as itturned out, was Smith himself. He wondered who was missing.

It is the same with Russia. We are looking all over for who lost it,but -- look again -- it is not lost. It is not only precisely where itshould be, astride the Eurasian land mass, but more important, it is alsoa quasi-free
society. Yes, it is corrupt, crime-ridden, inefficient and terriblypoor, but it is not -- as it was for so long -- a disturber of our sleep.

I happen not to know whether much of Russia's wealth was laundered throughthe Bank of New York (and other institutions) and sagaciously investedby mobsters in BMW's, knock-out blondes and large houses with multi-cargarages. I do know, though, that our worst fears about Russia have notcome true: It is neither a fascist nor communist power.

This is no minor accomplishment. Russia, as opposed to, say, Polandor the Czech Republic, was never a democracy -- not even for the five minutesor so between the two world wars. It was always governed by an authoritariansystem of some kind -- first the monarchy and then communism. For mostof this century, it had no free-market system. It took about 75 years,but the communists thoroughly ruined Russia.

But the fact that we are able to talk about "Russia" at all is no minorachievement. It has not moved to recapture the old Soviet satellites --not the Baltic states where so many ethnic Russians still live and not,either, the republics of the Caucasus and Central Asia, which were Russianbefore they were Soviet but which, ethnically, were always something else.In its own way, Russia even cooperated in Kosovo and, earlier, in Bosnia.By any measure, this is not the stuff of failure.

What has been lost when it comes to Russia is unrealistic expectations.The first and most important of them concerned Boris Yeltsin. He is hardlythe Lincolnesque figure of President Clinton's silly rhetoric, but he is,it seems, going to stumble and reel to the end of his term -- and thengo. Whatever may be said about Yeltsin, he has yet to assume dictatorialpowers -- or try to.

The second unrealistic expectation was that Russia somehow was goingto become a Western power. A decade ago, you could hear a lot of talk aboutthe vast potential of Russia and how fortunes could be made there. A virtualWall Street-to-Moscow shuttle flew into operation, and for a time goodmoney was made. Reality, though, burst that bubble. Russia is not now andnever has been a Western country -- not even "Eastern" in the sense ofJapan, Singapore or South Korea. It is weirdly and strangely Russian.

We live in an era of false calamities. School violence is decliningyet we are making jails of our schools. Out-of-wedlock births are down,yet politicians such as Dan Quayle quiver and quake about single mommiesand how -- darn it! -- we are all going to hell in a handbasket. The supposedloss of Russia is in that very handbasket.

It's probably true that American policymakers hugged Yeltsin a bit tooclosely. It's probably true that good money was thrown after bad. It isno doubt true that corruption has replaced ballet as the one thing Russiansdo best. But Russia has always been corrupt and so, for that matter, ismuch of the world. It also seems true, though, that infusions of cash keptYeltsin's regime (and his prime minister du jour) afloat. That, as MarthaStewart has often remarked (in a somewhat different context), is a goodthing.

Check your memories. Remember stories about possible coups -- aboutthe threat of the nationalists and that crackpot Vladimir V. Zhirinovsky?Remember the warnings of pogroms and how the Jews of Russia were in imminent,awful danger? Remember how we all held our breath as the communists sneakedback into government? If you remember these things then it's hard to saythat Russia is, somehow, lost. It's precisely where it has been for sometime -- in a muddle but not at our throats. What's really lost, it seems,is memory.

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Congressional leaders blast Clinton's Russia policy
        Christopher Wilson
        September 14, 1999
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Congressional Republicans  on Tuesdayblamed the Clinton administration for allowing rampant corruption to flourishin Russia and the U.S. House of Representatives, outraged at Russian weaponstechnology sales to Iran, passed a bill requiring tough retaliatory sanctions.

In a harsh denunciation of Clinton's policy, several leading Republicanssaid Washington had failed in its aim to help Russia become a peacefuland productive free market democracy by reinforcing the government of PresidentBoris Yeltsin where widespread corruption had taken over.

"Instead, Russia has become a looted and bankrupt zone of nuclearizedanarchy," said House Republican leader Dick Armey of Texas, who describedthe administration's Russia policy as "the greatest U.S. foreign policyfailure since Vietnam."

"The unparalleled financial graft in Russia, much of it apparently involvingmoney from U.S. taxpayers, marks the effective end of the Clinton-GoreAdministration's approach to Russian reform," Armey told reporters at anews conference.

Worried by a spate of scandals involving Russia -- including allegationsof corruption against Yeltsin and reports that billions of dollars in Russianfunds were laundered through the Bank of New York -- Congress has beenfurther unsettled by intelligence reports confirming that Russian firmsare major suppliers of sophisticated weapons technology to Iran.

Concern deepened last week when the Central Intelligence Agency reportedthat Iran, North Korea and possibly Iraq are likely to join Russia andChina in posing long-range missile threats to the United States.

In a move plainly designed to penalize Russia, the House unanimouslypassed legislation that would require the president to tell Congress everysix months which countries, foreign companies or individuals have helpedIran develop nuclear, chemical or biological weapons or the missiles tocarry them.

The president would be required to take punitive action against anyonedeemed to have breached the prohibition by imposing economic sanctionsor suspending military aid. If he does not, he would have to explain hisdecision to Congress.

Massive support for the measure by Republicans and Democrats came despiteopposition from the U.S. State Department on the grounds that it wouldpose thorny diplomatic problems for the Clinton administration and mightdiscourage foreign countries from cooperating with Washington on nuclearnonproliferation agreements.

Congressional leaders ignored that argument.

"We're gratified by today's overwhelming vote for the Iran NonproliferationAct," Armey said. "This action is just the first of many congressionalsteps required to address the failure of the administration's Russia policy."

New York Republican Benjamin Gilman, the chairman of the House InternationalRelations Committee, said the Clinton administration had previously vetoedsimilar legislation and that developments since then had proved this wasa mistake.

"In the hands of a rogue state like Iran these weapons pose a clearand present danger, said Gilman. "Why did the president claim that Russiawas a 'success story' for his foreign policy in his 1996 reelection campaignwhen today, less than three years later, people are asking 'who lost Russia?'"

The House bill would have to be matched by similar legislation by theSenate before it could become law.

White House aides have said it could face a presidential veto. But strongbacking for the measure in Congress indicates sufficient support to overridea veto.

"There's great frustration here and in the White House over the failureof the Russian government to get to the point where it can control theproliferation of serious weapons of mass destruction," said Sam Gejdenson,a Connecticut Democrat.

"We should have a policy that both engages Russia and provides penaltieswhen they fail to live up to the agreements that we bring to them."

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Republicans Step Up Attack on Clinton's Russia Policy
        Eric Schmitt
        New York Times
        September 15, 1999
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON -- Congressional Republicans ratcheted up their attack onPresident Clinton's Russia policy on Tuesday, expanding the scope of hearingsinto the Russian banking scandal and Washington's dealings with Moscow.

The House International Relations and Senate Foreign Relations committeesannounced that they would hold separate, wide-ranging hearings later thismonth about American policy toward Russia. The House Banking Committeesaid hearings it had previously announced would begin on Sept. 21 to examineallegations of Russian corruption and money-laundering, possibly includingthe diversion of billions of
dollars in international aid.

The Joint Economic Committee, a leading critic of the InternationalMonetary Fund's lending practices, especially to Russia, announced thatit would review the fund's plan to create a financial mechanism to deriveincome from gold it owns.

The volleys fired from Capitol Hill left no doubt that Republican leadersintend to use the economic turmoil and widening reports of corruption inRussia as a campaign issue against Democrats through the 2000 elections."The Clinton administration's Russia policy is the greatest U.S. foreignpolicy failure since Vietnam," declared Rep. Dick Armey, R-Texas, the majorityleader. "The stated purpose of the Clinton-Gore policy was to help Russiabecome a peaceful and productive free-market democracy. Instead, Russiahas become a looted and bankrupt zone of nuclearized anarchy."

Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas, the Republican whip, accused the administrationof blocking a domestic tax cut bill at the same time U.S. aid to Russiawas being "stolen by Russian thieves."

Armey, DeLay and other House Republicans spoke to reporters momentsafter the House approved a measure, 419-0, to punish foreign enterprisesor institutions, especially from Russia, that provide sensitive missiletechnology or expertise to Iran.

Congress has expressed growing alarm at Iran's drive to build long-rangemissiles that could hit American troops and allies, and frustration withRussia for failing to curb the export of missile know-how. Clinton, whovetoed a similar bill last year, has said the legislation could furtherstrain relations with Russia.

Democrats counterattacked throughout the day, accusing Republicans ofpolitical opportunism for trying to link Vice President Gore to the failureof economic reform in Russia.

"I'm sure there have been some mistakes made," said Rep. Dick Gephardtof Missouri, the House Democratic leader. "But we've been trying to helpRussia get through the extremely difficult transition from communism tocapitalism. If the alternative is to stand to one side, do nothing andhope Russia figures it out on its own, then that is a mistake."

A spokesman for the National Security Council, David C. Leavy, defendedthe administration's Russia policy, citing advances in individual libertiesfor Russians, nuclear arms reductions and the withdrawal of Russian troopsfrom Central and Eastern Europe.

Frank Luntz, a leading pollster, criticized the congressional Republicanstrategy. He said the Russian banking scandal does not yet affect "Americansin their day-to-day lives." He added, "If Republicans are trying to drawa political connection now, it ain't there."

No evidence has surfaced so far of the laundering of siphoned aid providedby the United States or the IMF, but the administration remains politicallyvulnerable on the issue. Administration officials are likely to be grilledon what they knew of a Justice Department inquiry into Russian corruptionbefore the investigation became public, and what steps they took to pressureMoscow to combat corruption.

Russian and American investigators met Tuesday in Washington, largelyto discuss the money-laundering accusations, a Justice Department officialsaid.

In addition to the Russian scandal, critics of the IMF got added ammunitionTuesday in the form of an independent report commissioned by the monetaryfund on its efforts to analyze economic conditions around the world. Althoughit praised the quality of the fund's work in many areas, the report foundthat the IMF had failed to anticipate the severity of the Asian financialcrisis and did not foresee the degree to which problems in one countrycould spill over into others.

The fund published a response Tuesday defending its research butacknowledgingthat it could make improvements.

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