Prepared Statement by Senator Thad Cochran Before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Hearing: Proliferation of Weapons from Russia

June 5, 1997

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear
  • Missile

Related Country: 

  • Iran

I'd like to welcome everyone to today's hearing of the Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on International Security, Proliferation, and Federal Services. The topic of our hearing is "Proliferation: Russian Case Studies."

At our last hearing on proliferation in April, we discussed how China was at the center of a world-wide proliferation web and had sold nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons technology, as well as ballistic and cruise missiles to rogue nations. Russia is also a key supplier of weapons of mass destruction technology and advanced conventional weapons to countries of concern to the United States.

Moscow is in the process of constructing a nuclear reactor in Iran and has reached an agreement in principle to sell up to three additional reactors to Tehran. Russia has also agreed to sell two nuclear reactors to India and press reports have surfaced on sales of ballistic missile technology to Iran and Iraq. While some of the specific Russian activities are classified, many of the details are available in the open press, and it is upon these open sources that we have relied exclusively in preparing for today's hearing.

Russia's sales of weapons of mass destruction technology and advanced conventional arms take place in the context of severe economic and political stress in Russia. Workers are paid months late or not all, crime is rampant, and severe housing shortages persist. Hunger, draft evasion, poor training, and aging equipment all plague the Russian military, which remains one of the world's largest.

Russia's premier defense facilities have not been immune to disruptions. Recent press reports indicate strategic missile facilities have suffered repeated power cutoffs in recent months because electric bills were not paid. During late 1996, thieves reportedly disrupted communications to operational Strategic Rocket Forces units on numerous occasions by mining copper and other metals from communications cables. In addition, late last year, the director of a prestigious Russian nuclear laboratory became so distraught over the dire conditions at his facility that he committed suicide.

Despite the danger posed by transfers of sensitive military technology, Russia's cash-starved nuclear and defense industries continue to pursue sales to rogue nations like Iran. It is unclear how much control central government officials have over these sales. Senior Russian officials have approved some deals, but Moscow appears unwilling or unable to halt other sales. At today's hearing we will explore how our government has approached this problem, as well as whether this approach is effective. We will also explore Moscow's record of adherence to its international nonproliferation commitments and what incentives and disincentives the United States should use to moderate Russia's proliferant behavior.

Our witnesses today are well suited to address these issues. Bob Einhorn, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Nonproliferation at the Department of State will testify first about the administration's approach to this problem. He will be followed by a second panel consisting of Dr. William Potter, Director of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute for International Studies, who will discuss Russian nuclear proliferation, and Dr. Richard Speier, an independent consultant and expert on the subject of Russian ballistic missile proliferation.