The U.S. and Russia: Space Cooperation and Export Controls

Steven Pifer, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs
Testimony Before the House Science Committee, Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics
Washington, DC
June 11, 2003

Introduction

Mr. Chairman and members of this Committee. It is an honor to appear before you with my colleague from NASA. We at the State Department consider it a privilege to work together with John Schumacher and his colleagues at NASA to further one of America's loftiest goals -- the mission of human space flight. At State, our contribution to this mission is to facilitate relations with our international partners in space exploration while safeguarding our broader national security interests. Although we cooperate closely with many space agencies around the world, any conversation about the U.S. space program would be incomplete if it did not note the unique and historic partnership we share with Russia in the field of human space flight. Space cooperation between the United States and Russia remains one of the most visibly successful elements of the U.S.-Russian bilateral relationship.

U.S.-Russian Space Cooperation

In recent months, this partnership has had to face tragic and unforeseen challenges. In the wake of the loss of the Shuttle Columbia, we have turned to our Russian colleagues for their assistance in sustaining the operations of the International Space Station (ISS). Considering our mutual experience in space exploration, Russia has undertaken important additional efforts to maintain the viability of the ISS. With the shuttle fleet grounded, the Russian Aviation and Space Agency (Rosaviakosmos) readily accepted its role as provider of the world's only physical link to the Station.

When the International Partners became concerned about the supply of water and other critical provisions to the Station, Russia made every effort to ensure that its Progress resupply vehicle would be available to provide support for the Station. The unmanned Progress vehicles are critical workhorses for delivering supplies to the Station. When the International Partners were faced with the possibility of mothballing the Station, Russia utilized a previously planned Soyuz launch to ferry a fresh crew to the Station, a mission that had been slated to be carried out by the Shuttle. This kind of cooperation, in the aftermath of the loss of the Columbia, has strengthened further our space partnership.

Underscoring the depth of this partnership, President Bush and President Putin reaffirmed U.S.-Russian cooperation in space at their June 1 meeting in St. Petersburg. In their joint statement, the Presidents extolled the role our two countries have played in the field of human space flight and confirmed their mutual aspiration to ensure the continued assembly and viability of the International Space Station as a world-class research facility. Looking to the future, the Presidents agreed to explore ways to enhance our cooperation in the field of space technology and techniques.

The Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000

As our space partnership proceeds and explores new areas of cooperation, both the State Department and NASA have been rigorous in enforcing the legislative requirements of the Iran Nonproliferation Act (INA) of 2000. With the International Partners and separately with Russian officials, the Administration has consistently made clear that all activity with Russia must be conducted within the bounds of U.S. law and our nonproliferation policy.

Bolstering nonproliferation remains a core issue on the U.S.-Russia security agenda. The State Department and other U.S. officials in the Administration have engaged the Russian Government at the most senior levels to seek an end to sensitive cooperation between Russian entities and state sponsors of terrorism, such as Iran.

In the context of our diplomatic engagement, Russia has taken steps, though not yet sufficient, to implement stronger export controls and improve oversight at Russian facilities. In the case of Iran, we have made clear our very strong concern that Russian cooperation with Iran not facilitate Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons or long-range ballistic missiles. While we cannot go into great detail in an unclassified forum, we can affirm that Russia has taken actions in response to specific cases related to the proliferation of sensitive nuclear technology in the course of our dialogue on nonproliferation. We continue to monitor the issue of ballistic missile technology assistance, and continue to be committed to Russia's cessation of any assistance that could help Iran with the delivery of WMD [weapons of mass destruction].

Iran's nuclear program was a key issue addressed by Secretary Powell with President Putin in their May meeting in Moscow and by President Bush with President Putin in St. Petersburg on June 1. We have stressed our concerns about the recent revelations of hidden Iranian efforts to develop a nuclear fuel cycle capable of supporting a nuclear weapons program, such as the centrifuge facility at Natanz. Given what this new information says about Iran's nuclear ambitions, we have again urged the Russians to reconsider their nuclear cooperation with Iran and believe they are actively doing so.

President Putin made clear at the G-8 Summit in Evian that all Iranian nuclear programs must be under IAEA safeguards. The IAEA Director General is conducting an investigation of the Iranian nuclear program, and his report will soon be taken up by the IAEA Board of Governors. Until Iran has fully satisfied the IAEA's examination and fully addressed the international community's concerns and questions, including full implementation of the Additional Protocol, no country should be engaging in nuclear cooperation with Iran. The Administration will continue to press the Russian Government not to engage in nuclear cooperation with Iran until Iran signs an Additional Protocol and verifiably abandons its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Although it would be difficult to quantify the INA's impact on the Russian Government's export control policy, I assure you that the pressure applied by the INA is palpable in any dialogue with Russia on space. Mr. Yuriy Koptev, General Director of Rosaviakosmos, has been particularly active in promoting reform throughout the Russian Government, and frequently notes the constraints imposed by the INA on U.S.-Russian space cooperation. Other Russian officials also regularly express their concern about the INA constraints. While the Administration acknowledges Rosaviakosmos' sincere efforts to reform and to maintain a good record on nonproliferation, we remain concerned about Russia's broader nonproliferation record. We will continue our high-level diplomatic dialogue with Rosaviakosmos and other relevant Russian agencies to address this issue.

The U.S. Export Control Process

Domestically, State's Directorate of Defense Trade Controls in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs ensures that our own export control policy is sound and is implemented effectively, including in our space cooperation with Russia. The Directorate is charged with controlling the export and temporary import of defense articles and defense services covered by the United States Munitions List (USML). The Directorate's mission is to advance national strategic objectives and U.S. foreign policy goals through timely enforcement of defense trade controls and the formulation of defense trade policy. It carries out its mission by enforcing the law and reviewing export license applications for defense articles and services, ensuring that exports approved are consistent with this mission and that companies comply with defense trade laws and regulations. Through the licensing process, relevant U.S. Government agencies have the opportunity to review individual export license applications and advise whether proposed exports would be consistent with our national security and foreign policy. The State Department makes licensing decisions accordingly. This extensive procedure applies not only to exports to Russia, but to all U.S. exports, and helps ensure that federal agencies such as NASA and U.S. aerospace firms do not, even inadvertently, contribute to the proliferation of sensitive technology around the globe.

U.S.-Russia Relations

A word about our overall bilateral relationship with Russia. Our two countries are working hard to move past our recent disagreement over Iraq. In St. Petersburg, Presidents Bush and Putin made clear their determination to reinvigorate the partnership. Expanding cooperation in the security dimension remains at the top of the agenda, and this includes pressing the Russians to improve their performance on key nonproliferation issues. Likewise, the Administration will persist in its efforts to enhance U.S.-Russian cooperation in counterterrorism, strategic stability, and missile defense. We also hope to broaden our cooperation in space and expand the economic component of our relations, particularly in the energy field. We intend to continue working closely with our colleagues at NASA to implement the Presidents' commitment to enhance our cooperation in space, while remaining fully consistent with our security and nonproliferation goals for the bilateral relationship. Thank you.
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