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  :: Nuclear Weapons Issues Proliferation China Presentation, Sam Brownback

Proliferation and US-China Nuclear Cooperation
By Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas)

October 8, 1997

I want to thank you all for coming here today to discuss this important issue. Mr. Wolfowitz, I understand your time is short, so I will not extend my remarks other than to say that I believe the issue of proliferation is one of the most important threats which face our nation today.

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The danger of rogue nations acquiring and using, at least as leverage, a nuclear capability is real. Iran is a case in point: proliferation to Iran of weapons of mass destruction is -- in my view -- the most pressing and dangerous current case with which the United States must deal. And yet, here is a case where our allies as well as former adversaries appear to be actively helping Iran.

The Administration is working on appeasing those involved: if they do not sanction Total under the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, foreign investment will pour into Iran's oil and gas fields and thus into the coffers which finance international terrorism and the development of a sustained nuclear capability.

Simultaneously, the Administration is placing the U.S. relationship with Russia -- one which we all agree is a vitally important one -- as the U.S. top priority. Therefore, Russia's support for Iran's efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction is tolerated and gingerly dealt with. And China -- for different reasons -- is getting the same kid gloves treatment -- to the extent that the Administration is willing to overlook China's proliferation record and certify that China is eligible for nuclear agreement with the United States.

Meanwhile, Iran continues to develop into a serious threat to stability in a region of the world where U.S. equities cannot be overestimated.

Both Russia and China are deliberately supplying Iran with weapons technology and/or with nuclear capability -- though both nations claim in private that it is not in their interest to do so. And, indeed, it isn't. But this does not seem to be putting a break on their activities.

The Vice President Gore, during his recent trip to Moscow, confirmed reports that had appeared in the media and cited a "vigorous effort by Iran to obtain the technologies it needs to build a ballistic missile and to build nuclear weapons." The U.S. mission to Russia to try to engage the Russians in the effort to stem the proliferation of technology to Iran has resulted in promises to investigate the matter. But the person designated by President Yeltsin to be our main interlocutor is Yuri Koptev, the head of the Russian Space Agency and a central figure implicated in the proliferation.

On another front, the recent deal which the French company Total signed with the Iranians, will provide Iran with a boost in their ability to continue and advance their nuclear capability. There has been much written recently about American exaggeration of the degree to which a deal like the Total deal will actually help Iran: well, the facts of the matter are that while the Iranians CAN afford to purchase missiles now, they CANNOT afford to maintain a nuclear capability without such infusions of cash. By closing this deal with Iran, Total has contributed significantly to the threat and to the continuation of the flow of weapons from Russia and other nations.

Thus our allies -- resisting our calls for isolating Iran -- are not only engaging with Iran, but supplying Iran with the wherewithal to acquire their weapons of mass destruction; weapons which they buy from Russia and China, which are continuing to supply Iran with the hardware and the know-how necessary to have their own indigenous missile and nuclear capability and to threaten U.S. troops in the Gulf, our allies in the Middle East and -- ultimately -- in Europe.

I will stop here but I look forward to hearing your views on the extent of the proliferation problem and what solutions you would bring to this threat which is currently facing our nation.

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