The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of May 12, 1995, the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Weldon] is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the majority leader.
Mr. WELDON of Pennsylvania. Mr. Speaker, my special order this evening is going to focus on a recent trip that I took last week to the former Soviet Union, to Russia, to talk about events that unfolded there; some special initiatives that I was able to convey to the new speaker of the Russian Duma, and to an assessment of what is happening politically inside of Russia.
Mr. Speaker, earlier today I was on the House floor in a very emotional speech discussing the recent efforts by the Committee on National Security to remove National Missile Defense considerations from our defense authorization bill. As the chairman of the research and development subcommittee, I fought hard to include language in that bill originally, that was vetoed by President Clinton, that would have allowed this country to move forward in terms of developing an allowable missile defense capability similar to that the Russians already had under the ABM treaty. Unfortunately, and I think largely because of misinformation, we were never able to accomplish that, and had to pull that section from the bill.
In my discussions, I talked about some of the problems that exist between our country and Russia. With that in mind, I rise tonight, Mr. Speaker, to talk about a recent trip and the broader efforts that I have undertaken to build a base, a foundation, if you will, between the people of Russia, between members of the Duma and the Federation Counsel in Russia and Members of this Congress.
Mr. Speaker, my interest in Russia goes back to my college days where my undergraduate degree is in Russian studies. Twenty years ago, I spoke the language fluently and studied the culture, the people, the history, the government, and all the various aspects of Russian society. My language skills are not so competent today, but I can still communicate fairly well with Russian leaders.
Over the past 20 years, I have been able to host a number of visiting Russians on trips to this country, and I have had the opportunity to travel to the former Soviet Union, and Russia in particular, on six or seven occasions.
During my tenure in Congress, Mr. Speaker, as a member of the Committee on National Security, I would characterize myself as a hard-liner when it comes to military and foreign policy relations with the former Soviet Union, now Russia. However, I take great pride in the efforts to reach out and establish a solid base of understanding and a cooperative effort at working with the Russians to achieve the common objective of stability for the people of Russia and the surrounding former Soviet republics.
As a matter of fact, 3 years ago Congressman Greg Laughlin, then a Democrat, and I formed the FSU American Energy Caucus. The purpose of this caucus is to foster improved relations in our Congress, we well as in the Russian Duma, to support joint venture agreements with American energy companies wanting to do business in the former Soviet States.
Over the past 3 years, we have worked with the major energy corporations and have helped complete agreements on both Sakhalin I and Sakhalin II, the two largest energy deals in the history of the world that are currently underway in the area around Sakhalin Island in Eastern Siberia in Russia. Those two projects, along with Sakhalin III which is now under negotiations, will see between 50 and 70 billion dollars worth of western investment go into Russia to help them develop the one resource that they have significant amounts of, and that is their energy resources.
Mr. Speaker, these deals are not just good for Russia in helping them bring in the hard currency they need and create jobs they need and helps them stabilize their economy, but it is also good for America. It reduces our dependency on Middle Eastern crude and allows us to create joint ventures to obtain new sources of energy that we can use in this Nation.
The energy caucus has also allowed us to form direct ties with elected members of the Russian Duma as well as elected parliamentarians in the other energy-rich republics, namely Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan and Tajikistan and some of the other republics where there are valuable energy resources.
Two years ago, in an effort to reach out to the Russians on another issue, I joined the GLOBE, Global Legislators for a Balanced Environment to focus on energy initiatives with the elected leaders inside of Russia to show that we can work together for common environmental problems.
In fact, we have focused particularly on our concerns relative to the practice of the Russians over the past 30 years of dumping their nuclear wastes in the Arctic ocean, the sea of Japan, the Bering Sea, and other coastal waters that border various parts of Russia and the former Soviet States.
To that end, Mr. Speaker, GLOBE has established a working group, which I chair, on the oceans involving legislators from the Russian Duma, the Japanese Diet, and the European Parliament. We meet on average twice a year and look to find ways that we can work together, again, on environmental issues, but again bringing elected parliamentarians together so that we can establish a base of understanding and cooperation that can help us deal with some of the more difficult issues that confront our two nations.
Just last spring, a group of Russian Duma members visited Washington who belonged to the Duma defense committee and along with my chairman, the gentleman from South Carolina, Mr. Spence, and my colleagues, the gentleman from California, Duncan Hunter, and the gentleman from Louisiana, Bob Livingston.
We met behind closed doors for about 2 hours to discuss relations with Russian Duma members who are involved in defense and foreign policy issues with members of our defense and foreign policy concerns. We had very frank and candid discussions about everything from the ABM Treaty to the START II Treaty to conventional weapons to NATO expansion, missile treaty issues and anything you could think of in that realm. They were very worthwhile discussions.
I proposed at that time that we establish a formal process that Members of Congress meet regularly with members of the Russian Duma defense committees. Mr. Speaker, there were three areas that we focused on in an effort to build a stable working relationship with members of the Russian parliament, the Duma.
Especially with the elections just occurring in December, it was all the more reason why we in this Congress have to work to better understand where Russia is going and the mind-set of the Russian people and its leadership.
With those thoughts in mind, Mr. Speaker, I approached you back in December of last year and suggested that you take a leadership role and write to the new speaker of the Russian Duma, who would be elected in January of this year, offering to establish a formal Russian Duma to Congress study group modeled after our Congress-Bundestag study group that works so closely with the German Bundestag.
The purpose of this effort would be to have the Speaker to our Congress and the Speaker of the Russian Duma agree that it would be in the interests of both countries to have our elected parliamentarians work together in a very close way on a number of issues, namely, energy, the environment, business issues, defense issues, foreign policy issues, but even going beyond that to issues involving perhaps domestic policy considerations. Not only can we discuss particular issues and try to find common solutions, but work to develop relationships that can allow us to understand each other and also to deal with these tough issues where we, in fact, are going to disagree: Some of the treaty issues for instance, that we discussed on the House floor earlier today.
With that in mind, Mr. Speaker, you drafted a letter that I was able to hand deliver to Moscow as a part of my trip last week. I will document the process that we went through to deliver what I think is one of the most innovative initiatives that has come out of this Congress in terms of working to stabilize relations with the elected officials inside of Russia.
We also, in that letter, carried your suggstion, Mr. Speaker, to establish a new direct computer linkage between Members of the American Congress and Members of the Russian Duma, ultimately elected parliamentarians around the world, so that we have access through a worldwide web of communication instantly to knock down some of the misconceptions, some of the half-truths, and some of the problems that occur from time to time when misinformation gets into our hands and perhaps when misinformation gets into the hands of the Russian elected officials.
Those were the suggestions that were contained in your letter that I delivered on your behalf, and I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, the response that I got in Moscow last week was extremely positive to both of the suggestions. Hopefully, very quickly, we can work to turn those into reality.
But let me backtrack a minute, Mr. Speaker, and talk about the first part of the trip and what we set out to accomplish. Arriving in St. Petersburg on Sunday, the small group that was traveling with me, which included Air Force liaison Steve Bull, Colonel Bull, and full committee staff member Dave Trachtenberg. We were to become participants in the conference sponsored by the ACPS organization. ACPS is the Advisory Council on the Protection of the Seas.
This assemblage of approximately 175 leaders from most of the nations that border the seas of the world was designed to provide a particular focus on the problem of Arctic nuclear waste dumping. As the Vice President of ACPS for the United States, my job was to represent our country and to convey the message that we in this Congress not only wanted to work with our colleagues and other nations involved with ACPS, but that we felt it of the highest urgency that Russia deal with this issue of disposing of their nuclear waste in a safe manner.
Mr. Speaker, we are all aware of the Yablakov report. It was developed written and released by Alexi Yablakov, a friend of mine and perhaps one of the most outspoken Russian activist on environmental issues in the country. He has been a member of President Yeltsin's National Security Council and a key advisor to Yeltsin on environmental issues and prior to that was an advisor to Gorbachev.
It was under President Yeltsin's leadership that Yablakov was able to document for the first time the worst fears about what Russia and the former Soviet Union had been doing in terms of dumping its nuclear waste into the open seas.
The conference in St. Petersburg, Mr. Speaker, allowed us to focus in a positive way with the Russians. Two-thirds of the attendees there were Russian leaders, including leadership of the Russian Navy, to focus on a common solution working together to allow us to convince the Russians to stop dumping their waste in the oceans and to stop the uncontrolled pollution, especially from their nuclear waste that has occurred for the past three decades.
While there were a lot of technical sessions that were held during the three-day conference, the end result was that we received some limited assurances from the Russians that for the time being they will in fact abide by the London convention. They did not say they would actually sign the London convention, which would allow them to take a formal step to acknowledge they would no longer dump, but they agreed to as much as possible hold off on dumping of nuclear waste.
Also at the conference, Mr. Speaker, we outlined steps that we are taking in this country, through the cooperative threat reduction program, to assist the Russians in disposing of their nuclear waste. They do not have the technology. They do not have the resources. And part of what we have done through the Navy over the past 3 years is that we have provided approximately $30 million that we have controlled that has allowed the Russians to assess the impact that the disposal of that nuclear waste has caused on the seas, both in the northern area where the northern fleet is headquartered and out in the eastern part of Siberia in the Sea of Japan.
The leverage that we were able to obtain by putting that relatively small amount of money up to help deal with a very serious world problem has now seen the Japanese and the South Koreans come forward with money that is allowing them to help finance a similar solution for Russia's nuclear waste out on the Pacific fleet and in the area of Vladivostok. And the Pacific fleet itself. So the good news coming out of the ACOPS conference was that we have a working relationship with Russia that we can build on, that the leadership of the Russian Duma, that the leadership of the Russian military understands that it is in both of our interests to work together to find common ways of preventing additional dumping of this raw material into the seas of the world.
Why is this so important to America? Obviously for those who live in Alaska and Hawaii, the potential threat from polluted materials and polluted marine environment from coming into the waters off Alaska is real and it is significant. That is why over the past several years Senator Ted Stevens and Congressman Don Young and Senator Frank Murkowski have been outspoken leaders in both houses of this Congress on the issue of working with the Russians to help deal with this problem of nuclear waste disposal.
So all in all, our efforts in St. Petersburg, I think, were worthwhile and will lead to further efforts to assist the Russians in acknowledging the past practices that have caused worldwide environmental problems and to keep their feet to the fire in terms of helping them find solutions that will prevent these kinds of shortsighted actions taking place in the future.
While in St. Petersburg, Mr. Speaker, we visited the Baltic shipyard. The Baltic Shipyard is the largest shipyard in St. Petersburg, currently employing about 8,000 workers. It is the shipyard where much of the construction of the Soviet Navy took place. In fact, it is where all of the Kirov-class warships were built.
While we were there, we were able to go up and stand next to and see the latest warship built by the Russians, the Peter the Great, which is a nuclear powered cruiser, very capable ship that is the newest ship in the Russian fleet, just launched this past year, and which has just completed its first sea trials.
We had some very frank discussions with the management of the Baltic Shipyard about their capabilities. We were given a comprehensive tour of that shipyard, both inside and out, propeller shop, inside construction facilities, to see firsthand what is taking place there.
In addition to those visits, in a meeting that we held with the leadership of the Baltic Shipyard on Tuesday, we delivered a report that was the result of an effort a year earlier where Members of this Congress went to Russia with the idea of helping to find a way to convert that shipyard away from building warships and into the field of environmental decontamination so that the Russians could take all of their surplus navy vessels that are heavily contaminated with PCB's, with ozone-depleting gases, with carcinogenic paints, with sludge material on the bottom of their hulls, to show their workers, who used to build these ships, that we could employ them or they could be employed in new technologies to clean them up. Then once the ships were clean, that the scrap value of those ships would allow them to be taken apart in Russian shipyards, perhaps the Baltic shipyard itself or in shipyards in America that have been hurting for work.
We delivered the report to the Russian leadership and with it came the recommendations for the next step in helping to move that project forward. I am optimistic, Mr. Speaker, that we can work with the Russians to help continue to convert that Baltic shipyard into more nondefense uses, especially in the environmental decontamination area.
Leaving St. Petersburg, Mr. Speaker, dealing with environmental issues, we traveled to Moscow and the second part of our trip focused on relations with the new Russian Duma members and to assess the situation as the Duma met in fact on that Monday that we arrived there for the first time ever.
Mr. Speaker, the election results in terms of who won the Duma were quite interesting and certainly point up the fact that we in this Congress need to understand which parties in fact are in control right now in Russia.
While we were in Moscow, I was able to meet with leaders of the four major parties who were successful in the December elections. As we all know, Mr. Speaker, the Russian State Duma has 450 elected officials. Control of that entire Duma was up in the December elections. And even though Boris Yeltsin made a very impassioned plea to maintain the control of the Duma with that party most aligned with his position on key issues, that in fact was not the case. It was not the outcome of the elections.
In fact, Mr. Speaker, as we all know, the Communist Party, making a resurgence in Moscow, dominated the local elections and, in fact, were able to elect 158 members to the new Duma, far and away more than any other faction politically in Russia. Coming in second was the Liberal Democratic Party, that party headed by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, someone with whom the West has got to interact and understand because of some of the radical positions that he has taken in the past. Zhirinovsky's party, Mr. Speaker, did not do as well as he had hoped and certainly that is good news for us, but in fact did garner 51 seats in the new Duma.
In addition, another major party winning significant support in the Duma was the Our Home is Russia Party, which is the party of Viktor Chernomyrdin and the party most closely aligned with Yeltsin. That party was only able to secure a total of 54 votes in the Duma elections.
And finally, the fourth major party getting a significant seat in terms of the Duma and in terms of the factional interests was the Yablakov Party, headed by Grigory Yavlinsky. That party is also more of a mainstream party, and they only achieved 45 seats in the Duma.
Following those four key parties, a number of smaller parties, the Agrarian Party, the Women of Russia Party received lesser votes, but because of the requirement in the Russian constitution that for full recognition a party had to achieve 5 percent of the electorate in the Duma elections, none of them were able to make that cutoff. So while they have Members in the Duma, they do not have the status that the four major parties that I just mentioned have.
In fact, the Independents, with 77 members, are a very large bloc but they are not organized and they are not recognized because they represent various independent factions.
The point is, Mr. Speaker, that with your effort in mind, with the two-page letter that you gave me to hand deliver to members of the Russian Duma, I was able to meet with each of the various political factions to discuss with them your ideas and the notion that I put to you back in December about establishing this new interactive network between members of the Russian Duma and the major political factions and Members of our Congress, both Democrats and Republicans.
Mr. Speaker, we met with Zhirinovsky's top aide, Mr. Mitrofanov, who is a member of the Russian Duma and in fact is now chairing the party dealing with worldwide issues. We had a very frank and candid discussion with him. And I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, the response that he brought to us from Zhirinovsky's party was extremely supportive, wanting to reach out and work in a positive way with both of the suggestions that were contained in your letter.
The suggestion about the permanent Duma to Congress forum and the suggestion about the worldwide internet we would establish starting off with our Congress and their Duma.
The second meeting with Mr. Averchev, Vladimir Averchev, who is a member of the Yablakov party, a close associate of Mr. Lukin. And Mr. Averchev was very enthusiastic about the suggestion you made and offered his personal support to help build the coalition of members of the Duma from the various political factions to turn your suggestions into reality.
And on the following day of our visit to Moscow, I had a chance to meet with Aleksey Arbatov, a leader on the Duma defense establishment. He, too, was extremely excited about the possibility of implementing both of your suggestions.
I also had a chance to visit the Kremlin and to meet with President Yeltsin's key advisors on defense issues, particularly treaty issues, ABM, START II. And each of those key advisors, in particular, Mr. Kortunov, were extremely excited about the initiative that you have put forth.
So, Mr. Speaker, I can tell you today and report back to you and to our colleagues in this body and to the people of America that you have, I think, created a landmark effort, very early on in this new Russian Duma, to reach out in a clear way to establish a working relationship that will help us establish a base of operation and understanding between our parliamentarians but, more importantly, to be able to deal with the difficult issues where we will not be in such agreement, and some of those were discussed on the floor of the House today relative to our defense bill.
So the ball is now in the Russians' court. We anticipate a response from the new speaker in a matter of weeks and, Mr. Speaker, we hope that that response will be very positive.
A word about the new speaker. While we were in Moscow, we had a difficult time delivering your letter, Mr. Speaker, because it was not until Thursday evening that the Duma could, in fact, agree on who the new speaker should be. As you know, Mr. Rybkin has been the past speaker in the Russian Duma. Mr. Rybkin represents more of the traditional political groups that have supported President Yeltsin's policies.
In the first vote, Mr. Rybkin only achieved a total of 116 votes. Mr. Seleznyov, who was the candidate for the Communist Party, Gennadi Seleznyov received a total of 216 votes, and the third party candidate, Mr. Lukin, from the Yablokov Party, received 56 votes.
No one achieved the required number of 226 votes to be named Speaker of the new Russian Duma. Therefore, it was impossible on Wednesday to deliver your letter.
On Thursday evening, after a lot of political give and take and a lot of horse trading in terms of committee leadership assignments, the various factions were able to come together and in fact elected a new Speaker for the Russian Duma. By a vote of 231 for the Speaker of the Russian Duma, Gennadi Seleznyov is in October the new Speaker, someone to whom your letter was delivered and whom I hope you will have an ongoing relationship with.
Now, it scares many in this country that the new Speaker of the Russian Parliament is a Communist. And it certainly is something that we have to look at. But the word that I got from those who know him and from those around him is that he is someone that we can deal with. I think it is going to be very difficult for him to revert back to the pre-Russia days and the days of the former Soviet bloc status, but he is in power. He represents the largest party faction, and we need to make sure that we work with him and, as we have done on your behalf, Mr. Speaker, reach out to him in a hand of friendship to say, let us work together.
Coming in second in that vote again was Mr. Rybkin with 150 votes and in third place again was Mr. Lukin with 50 votes. As a matter of fact, I was with Mr. Lukin as he went down to cast his vote. He knew he would lose. But in working a deal, the Yablakov Party was able to preserve two of the most powerful committee assignments in the Russian Duma.
Mr. Speaker, they were able to keep control of the Committee on International Relations, and they were also able to keep control of the Committee on the Budget. So it was, in fact, a brokered election. Mr. Seleznyov is, in fact, the new speaker. In fact, I wished him well and gave him your letter, and we now await his response.
Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, the response from the Duma members that I met with was extremely positive. I had a chance to travel the halls of their Duma, much like our halls around our Congress, to interact with members and their staffs, to see firsthand the early days of the Duma organization. I implore you, Mr. Speaker, as soon as we get the official nod, to allow us to begin this process of aggressive interaction.
Mr. Speaker, what I envision are a series of subgroups focused on energy issues, on environmental issues, on defense and foreign policy issues, on issues involving adoption. One of our meetings was on that very subject with Mr. Lukin's top aide, to try to clarify some of the adoption laws for those Americans who want to adopt Russian native children but who are prevented right now because of the laws in their country; working on issues involving education, issues where we can find common ground, not necessarily to reach full agreement but, in the end, to build better understanding and a better foundation.
Mr. Speaker, I had some other meetings I want to briefly highlight while we were there. In terms of the energy caucus, we did meet with the major energy companies who have a presence in Moscow. I spoke to them at our breakfast meeting. They are very excited about the production-sharing agreement that was just approved by the Russian Duma in December that is allowing us to move forward with joint ventures.
The only thing I would say is that the Russians have to understand that they cannot keep changing the rules of the road while these deals are being developed. In face, Mr. Speaker, I will submit a chart for the Record showing that much of the efforts that we have put forward to establish these joint initiatives have been hampered by the Russian legislature changing the rules along the way, resulting in significant increases in taxes that have caused some of our American companies to have second thoughts about this Western investment of private sector dollars.
We also had a chance to meet with Ambassador Pickering to discuss a wide range of issues involving our joint relations. Then I had a chance to meet with the leading defense experts and think-tank leaders in Russia to talk about issues involving the ABM Treaty, START II, and Russian-American relations.
Along that line, as I mentioned, I met with 3 of Yeltsin's top advisors on defense and foreign policy issues, headed up by Mr. Kortunov, who, in fact, is going to be the executive secretary of a new 20-member panel that Mr. Yeltsin is convening to review all the nuances of the ABM Treaty for the Russian side.
In fact, Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that we ask President Clinton, along with you and Senator Dole, to convene a similar 20-person panel to look at our concerns with the ABM Treaty and to interact with this effort that is going to be headed up from the standpoint of actual operation by Mr. Kortunov.
Let me get into a couple of issues involving the treaty. Mr. Speaker, I have given you all of this documentation about relations because I want our colleagues to know that we are not about sticking it in the eye of the Russian leaders and people. In fact, we are doing more to reach out to the Russians and the members of their Duma than any other Congress has done in recent history in the area of the environment, in the area of energy, defense, foreign policy, and each of these other relationships.
But we also, Mr. Speaker, have a common agenda that says we cannot overlook the reality of what is happening with those leaders in the Russian military who, in many cases, were there when it was the Soviet military, and whether it comes to treaty compliance or whether it comes to nuclear weapons or whether it comes to conventional arms sales, we need to understand the mindset of what is occurring in that country.
To that end, Mr. Speaker, I had some very serious discussions with both the think-tank experts, the policy people from the USAK Institute, as well as Yeltsin's key advisors. I related to them the concern in this Congress, in this country, that Russian right now has a distinct advantage. Under the ABM Treaty, each country is allowed to have one missile defense system, and as they reiterated to me, Russia has the world's only operational ABM system. Even though we are allowed to have one under that treaty, we do not have one. They have one that protects 80 percent of the population of Russia.
That treaty is operational, it has been upgraded three times, and in fact, I tried to visit one of the ABM sites. I was told if I stayed over a second week they would take me to one of the ABM sites, but could not fit it into their schedule the week that I was there. I also tried to meet with General Sergev, who was the chief of strategic rocket forces, who heads up their missile capability. I also could not get a meeting with him, but I will return to Russia at some point in time, and I will meet with him. He is the equivalent to our Mal O'Neill, General O'Neill who heads our BMDO.
The point is, Mr. Speaker, that I conveyed to the Russians that I am not about sticking it in their eye, that I want to work with them to convince them that missile defense is as much in their best interests as is ours, because the threat of attack from a rogue nation is probably more against them than it is us because of who borders their country.
They expressed a desire that we cannot get away from the theory of mutually assured destruction, and I convinced them that we have, in fact, the capability, under the existing treaty, to build a system, just like they have in Moscow. The American people do not even realize that. When you ask the American people if we are allowed to have a system to protect us against a launch of an incoming missile, they would think we did, and frequently I have to tell them no, we do not have any such system, because our leadership, primarily our liberal leadership in this Congress and in the White House right now, will not allow us to implement what Russia already has, which I cannot understand, Mr. Speaker. I cannot understand that notion.
Again, I say, this as not someone who is attempting to tweak the Russians, but as someone who devotes a good part of his time to building strong relationships with the Russian people, with their leadership and their Duma.
I would tell you this, Mr. Speaker, despite the rhetoric we heard coming out of the White House this week, the leaders that I have met with in terms of the Russian think-tanks and the advisors to Yeltsin were more concerned from a START II standpoint, with President Clinton's goal of expanding NATO, than they were with the prospect of America developing a treaty-compliant missile defense system much like they have around Moscow, but you never hear President Clinton talk about that.
Mr. Speaker, he only talks about what we want to do in the Congress of a date certain system as being something that could jeopardize START II. I think that is a red herring. I do not think that is the case. We are going to make that case this year politically, as Mr. Clinton attempts to prevent us from moving forward with what I think we need, and that is the capability much like the Russians have today.
Mr. Speaker, besides the issue of the existing ABM system in Moscow and the treaty, I raised the notion with the Russians that I understand the importance of the ABM treaty politically to them, but that we now have a responsibility in a world that is no longer bipolar of protecting our people against a rogue attack. This is extremely important, Mr. Speaker. Some in our Congress, particularly on the Democrat side, the more liberal Members, would say that, `The intelligence community says there is no threat in the next 15 years.'
I wrote to Gen. Mal O'Neill today to get his views on the most recent intelligence estimate, which I had a classified briefing on about a month ago. I think I was the first Member to have that. I walked out of the briefing, because it was so poor.
Mr. Speaker, our intelligence community, in the most politicized effort I have seen in my 10 years here, has said that Russia has not changed in 5 years. Despite cutoffs of power to their strategic nuclear force headquarters, despite no housing for the military, despite military personnel not being paid for months, despite tremendous morale problems, and despite the leakage of technology, both deliberately and accidentally, out of Russia, our intelligence agency comes forward and says that nothing has changed. That to me is unbelievable. In the first quarter of this year, Mr. Speaker, I will chair hearings in the R&D committee, and we will expose what I think is a consistent pattern of sanitizing intelligence data.
This, to me, is outrageous. As someone who spends the bulk of his time working on building and improving Russian-American relations, I find it unconscionable that anyone would attempt to sanitize information that would allow us to make an objective decision about what the threat is. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, while I was in Russia, while I met with the embassy staff in Moscow and then had a private meeting with Ambassador Pickering for an hour and then met with the leading advisors to President Yeltsin, I asked them about an incident that occurred in early December of last year.
The Jordanians, Mr. Speaker, as documented by the Washington Post on December 15, confiscated the most advanced telemetry equipment that would only be used in a long-range ICBM, intercontinental ballistic missile. These accelerometers and gyroscopes only could be used in a long-range missile. They were from Russia and they were heading to Iraq. The Jordanian and Israeli intelligence confiscated them. We now have in our possession some of these items that have been photographed by the Washington Post.
I asked everyone I met within Moscow, `How do you explain, if there is stability here, how do you explain the most advanced technology that can help the Iraqis develop a long-range missile that could threaten any American city, how do you explain that leaving Russia?' Because either answer is a problem for us: If the Russians say they know nothing about it, that is a problem, because it means they do not have control of their technology base; and if they say it was a legitimate sale, that is a problem, because it means they are exporting technology that, down the road, in Saddam's hands will threaten American interests.
Mr. Speaker, we are not talking about pie-in-the-sky ideas. We are talking about reality. Mr. Speaker, what bothered me most was when I talked to the Russians who advise Yeltsin. One, by the way, is a good friend of mine. I have been on three or four delegations with him over the past 10 years. I was active with him when he was a member of the Young Communist League, the Comsomol; he is a member. He just wrote a book on missile proliferation.
When I asked him, `How do you explain this incident,' he said to me, `We don't know anything about it.' That was reported in the Washington Post. I would invite any Member of this Congress to request a classified briefing they can receive as a Member of this body on the evidence that we have in our hands on this advanced technology going to Iraq for a long-range ICBM, not just one delivery, but evidence of other deliveries coming out of Russia.
Mr. Speaker, the ABM Treaty does not protect us against Iraq having a long-range missile. It does not protect us against China's CSS-II. It does not protect us against North Korea's No Dong or Taepo Dong-II missile, which now has ranges close to Hawaii and Alaska.
Mr. Speaker, we have to address these issues up front and candidly with the Russians. They respect that. In all of my dealings with Russia over the past 20 years, in hosting over 100 Members of the Duma in my office last year, the one thing Russians respect, including my good friends over there, is when you are honest with them. That is why they, in the end, liked Ronald Reagan. They always knew where he was coming from.
But if, in fact, they see that our policy is set first and then we sanitize all of the information we get so it does not undermine the policy, that is not something they will respect. It is not something that is going to be in our best interests.
Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, I sense that is beginning to happen now. It scares me. In the hearings that we will hold this year, we will look at that issue. We will look at the intelligence relative to Russian command and control.
Let us get back to the issue of the technology being transferred. Is it not strange, Mr. Speaker, that no one would even tell me that we had questioned the Russians on how this material was being transferred? I think I know why, Mr. Speaker: Because when we expose the facts and when we get on the record that Russia has, either directly or indirectly, legally or illegally, transferred this advanced equipment to Iraq, it is going to be a violation of the missile control technology regime, which Russia just entered this past fall. Guess what, Mr. Speaker? When Russia is in fact in violation of the MTCR, this country must take actions. Those actions could lead to sanctions.
Is this administration so naive that it would ignore what the Russians are doing, so we do not have to impose sanctions or even discuss it, so we do not talk about this? Mr. Speaker, I am not going to let that happen.
I raised this issue with the Russians directly at the same time I talked about helping them with their energy, with their environment, with their defense, with adoption and all the other issues I talked about. But I am not going to ignore reality when it comes to what people in the Russian military may be doing on their own.
We have got to understand that, Mr. Speaker, because this administration does not want to confront reality. They are so bent on bolstering up Yeltsin, whom I support and whom I hope succeeds. Even though the most recent polling data in Russia shows he only has 8 percent support in the entire Russian electorate, I want to see Yeltsin succeed. I want to see democracy succeed. I want to see economic reform succeed. But I do not want to do it in a vacuum, and not protect the people of this country.
I also proposed the question to those that I debated from the think-tanks and from Yeltsin's key advisory group on defense and foreign policy issues, how they would explain to me their concern with any treaty without them understanding our mindset, and our mindset is very important, that they have to understand as well as we understand theirs.
I related a story to them, Mr. Speaker, of my first session in this Congress, in 1987. My first amendment on the floor of the House was an amendment offered on the defense authorization bill that was very simple. It was offered at the time that the liberals were telling then-President Reagan that we should adhere to the strictest possible interpretation of the ABM Treaty.
My amendment was very simple and said, `The Russians,' at that time the Soviet Union, `had violated the ABM Treaty by the installation of the Krasnoyarsk radar system where it was installed.' My amendment passed the House in a recorded vote 418 to 0. No Member disagreed with me. But the liberals said, `It is not an important violation. It is a trivial violation.'
That radar is really being used for space-tracking purposes. It is not for missile defense, and it is not for a national missile defense system. I argued and many of our colleagues argued that, in fact, it was deliberate, and it was being placed there so that Russia could eventually have the option of breaking out of the ABM Treaty.
Mr. Speaker, last year I read the Russian media every day as a student of Russian relations. Last year I read the Journal of Russian Military History, and an article in it written by General Voitinsev. General Voitinsev for 18 years was the leader of the Russian Air and Space Command effort, the top guy. General Voitinsev in his article, his memoirs, on the record publicly said he was ordered to leave Krasnoyarsk radar where it was, knowing full well it was a deliberate violation of the ABM Treaty, knowing full well its ultimate purpose was for a tracking system to develop a capability to break out of the ABM Treaty.
Now, this is not a Republican conservative saying this, this is not some think tank expert in America; this is the Russian general responsible at the time for overseeing the placement of the Krasnoyarsk radar system.
He went on to further state, and I will provide this to any Member of this body who wants the detailed wording from the article, he further said he was ordered to place the radar there by General Ogarkov, General Ogarkov was being ordered by the Politburo, and told Voitinsev that if you do not place it where we tell you, which is the Krasnoyarsk, in direct violation of the ABM Treaty, you will be removed from your post.
I confronted the Russians with that, and they did not deny it, because they know it is true. But the important point is, Mr. Speaker, that both sides have to approach these issues in a frank, open and candid manner. Neither side should bury their head in the sand and ignore reality. And I say that not as an alarmist, but as somebody who delivered your letter to the new speaker of the Russian Duma, Mr. Seleznyov, who met with the Duma leadership, who met with Zhirinovsky's party, who met with the Yablakov party, the Russia Is Our Home party, and the Communists, to convince them that we want to work with them, but we cannot do that in a vacuum.
Mr. Speaker, we cannot allow the intelligence community of this country to be sanitized by anyone in the White House. I am not just talking about the President; I am talking about key policy advisers or anyone else who may have an ultimate objective and who says we can't allow anything to get in the way of that objective. That is not the purpose of the intelligence community.
We who are the elected representatives of the people of this country need data based on fact, and we are going to get that data.
It really bothers me that as the chairman of the Committee on National Security, Subcommittee on Research and Development, that I have to go out and establish an ad hoc advisory group made up of former intelligence officials, and Russian experts and Soviet experts to advise me, because I questioned some of the data I am getting and the lack of answers I am getting from our own intelligence community. Mr. Speaker, that is outrageous.
Is it not outrageous that we have an incident that we cannot even get detailed response from what the Russians' position is on transferring sophisticated technology and equipment to Iraq? Is it because we do not want to jeopardize their membership in the MTCR? That is outrageous, Mr. Speaker.
I again invite every Member of this body to ask for the classified briefing that is available today on what happened in December and what the results of the evidence that we have are in terms of this material being transferred to Iraq and the implications that has for Iraq's capabilities of developing one long-range missile.
Furthermore, I also, Mr. Speaker, had a chance to meet with a Russian company, Rosvoorouzhenie. We talk about arms sales. This is the new company that has been formed in Russia; this is their slick marketing brochure. They gave me all of their copies of them, of anything I wanted. I met with the leadership of this company that has as its total purpose the marketing of arms all over the world, and where basically we can buy anything and everything that the Russians are making today.
What concerned me most is not their ability to sell their helicopters and their guns and these other armaments, because companies do that in this country, even though we can limit that. It is the fact, where does it stop, Mr. Speaker?
One SS-25 with a range of 10,000 kilometers on a mobile launch system pulled by a tractor, basically pulling the back of a truck, can reach any city in America, one SS-25; and the Russians have probably 500 SS-25 launchers. One SS-25 removed from Russia and taken to a Third World nation presents an immediate threat to this county. That is a possibility, Mr. Speaker.
In hearings that I chaired last year, the CIA said on the record it would be possible to take one battery out without us knowing it. I am not talking about a nuclear weapon being on the tip of that missile. I am talking about a conventional weapon. It could be a chemical or biological weapon, or it could be just the threat itself.
Mr. Speaker, these are the threats that are there. This is reality. And for us to have a lasting relationship with the Russians that works in both of our interests to build trust and understanding, and help them economically and socially, we must base our discussions on factual information and we trust be willing to share the bad stories.
When I was in St. Petersburg speaking at the ACOPS conference, talking about the Russian dumping of nuclear waste, I started off by saying, you know, we come from America and we are quick to criticize you for problems that we think only you have.
I remember a hearing that I called for in the last session of Congress when I was the ranking member of the Oceanography Subcommittee, and I was listening to a Navy official testify about the problems of the Komsvolez, a Russian submarine that went down off the coast of Norway, that is sitting on the bottom of the sea, that has nuclear missiles and also has a nuclear rector on board.
And I said to that Navy official when he was done, I am concerned about the Komsvolez, but let me ask you a question. Can you tell me about the Thresher and the Scorpion, the two American submarines that are on the bottom of the ocean, nuclear power with nuclear weapons.
He said to me, Congressman, we cannot discuss that in an open session.
I said, you expect us to be critical of the Russians for accidents they have had, but not to be critical of ourselves for accidents that perhaps we have had.
Mr. Speaker, in this era of a new dialog with members of the Russian Duma, above all, we have got to be candid. When we have problems, we have to acknowledge them, and when they have problems, we have to confront them. To do anything less is a disservice to our country and to the people of Russia.
Mr. Speaker, Russia has changed a lot. The Duma is in place now; the Federations Council largely appointed by Yeltsin is in power. Yeltsin is having a terrible problem right now as he is appointing a lot of reactionary leaders, Kremkov to replace the most recent foreign minister. He is changing and checking up his cabinet to try to get back support from the nationalists who won the election in December. But, Mr. Speaker, in the end, for us to maintain solid relations, we have to be candid with one another.
The Russian military is still led by some of the same leaders who were in the leadership positions when it was the Soviet military. I read a series of articles recently by one of the commanders of one of the major Russian fleets. I believe it was the North Fleet, where he talked about Russia being involved in world war III. This is just a recent article that appeared 3 weeks ago. I will be happy to provide it for any of our colleagues.
This Russian admiral, who is now in a key position of the Russian Navy, talked about Russia already being involved in world war III with the West, that it was not the traditional war, it was a velvet war where America was attempting to undermine Russia, and that the only way Russia was going to eventually succeed was to eventually have the use and capability of its nuclear arsenal. As much as we want to brush away those kinds of statements and those kinds of positions, we have to confront them head on, Mr. Speaker. We have to confront the elected officials in Russia head on.
If they have problems with us and what we have done, then they should be able to confront us and we should openly discuss it and debate it. But we should never allow anyone in Russia to give us false information or, worse yet, to give us no information about problems and concerns that we have with events that are unfolding in terms of defense policy and foreign relations in particular.
I think the Russians will ultimately respect us for that position, and hopefully, this process that we have established will allow us, through your good efforts, Mr. Speaker, to have an ongoing relationship, and open dialog will occur in both countries. That is the only way that, down the road, irregardless of who the President of either country is, that we can build long-term trust and understanding.
We have key concerns. We have a need to protect our people, and we ought to be able to address those issues directly with the Russian leaders. The Russians have concerns with perhaps where we are going. They may think that our purpose in trying to get rid of the ABM Treaty is just to gain an advantage with them, when in fact our major purpose is to protect us from another rogue launch; not necessarily an all-out attack from Russia, it is from the peril of an Iraq getting a long-range missile, or from China, or North Korea or from some other rogue nation. The ABM Treaty does nothing to protect us from those instances.
With the Russians offering to sell the SS-25 as a space launch platform or from a variation of that, with the Russian marketing efforts underway to market their missile systems around the world, we need to be more vigilant than ever.
I would make the case, Mr. Speaker, that Russia today militarily is more destabilized than it ever was under Communist leadership. Central command is not what it was. During our hearings in the first quarter, we are going to look at the central command, we are going to look at the command structure; we are going to look at the potential for a breakdown in the control of that nuclear arsenal, and we are going to confront it in an intelligent manner.
It really galled me last night to see President Clinton stand up right behind us, right behind me in this podium, and tell the American people for the second time that he can say no longer are Russian missiles pointed at American children. That is the most outrageous statement this President has made, among many outrageous statements.
Any expert who knows anything about missiles, including the Russian military expert who controls those missiles, as he said on `60 Minutes' when he was interviewed, those missiles can be retargeted in a matter of seconds and minutes, and that is exactly what can occur. And to the American people some kind of false sense that all is well and there are no problems is the absolutely worst thing that this administration could be doing.
We in the Congress are not going to let that happen. We are going to be vigilant, we are going to be aggressive; we are going to pursue issues that we want answers to like the transfer of this technology to Iraq and why it occurred and how it occurred. We are going to pursue questions about the sale of sophisticated weaponry, the leakage of nuclear materials, the breakdown of command and control in the Russian military, but we are going to do it openly and honestly; and we are also going to work with the Russians to stabilize their economy, to help them environmentally with their energy issues and every other area where they have common concerns. In that regard, Mr. Speaker, we can achieve ultimate success.
I applaud you for the leadership role that you have taken in this new initiative with the speaker of the Russian Duma. For those who would be critical of you, I would say, here is another example where you have created a new effort in the Congress and in Washington to achieve a new level of relationship with Russia that we have never had before. I am optimistic it will be successful, and I am optimistic that in the end, we can in fact peacefully coexist if we are both honest and candid, one with the other.
I would ask unanimous consent, Mr. Speaker, to insert support documentation of my trip in the Record, as well as the letter itself from you to Speaker Seleznyov, and would invite my colleagues to follow up on this issue if they have particular issue areas they want to focus on, to let them know that we will be trying to form these focus areas once we get the word from the Russian Duma that they are ready to proceed with this exciting new opportunity.
I thank my colleagues for bearing with me as I provide this report on the trip and our relations with Russia.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Office of the Speaker,
Washington, DC, January 17, 1996.
Hon. Gennady Seleznyov,
Speaker, State Duma, Russian Federation.
Dear Mr. Speaker: I am writing to seek your assistance and support for a project that I feel will have long-term benefits for both Russia and America and our respective legislatures. I propose that we establish a standing Duma-Congress Study Group composed of members of the Russian Duma and U.S. Congress to develop an ongoing relationship between our legislatures.
I have asked Congressman Curt Weldon, who first brought this proposal to my attention, to personally deliver this letter to you and brief you in greater detail on the Study Group. Congressman Weldon has focused much of his work in the Congress on a range of Russian-American issues, including energy development, the environment, and arms control.
These are just a few of the many important issues that confront our two nations, and I am convinced that an effective way to develop greater understanding between our two nations and make real progress on these issues is to establish a mechanism for a long-term dialogue between our two legislatures. Many formal linkages already exist between our two Presidents and executive branches, but no formal organization exists to facilitate communication between our legislators. I believe such a legislature-to-legislature organization would complement, rather than hamper, the bilateral activities of our executive branches.
The Study Group, as I envision it, would consist of eight to ten members from each of our legislatures who would meet for three to five days two times each year, once in Russia and once in the United States, to discuss a range of key Russian-American issues that would be agreed upon in advance. The goal would be to make the sessions somewhat informal so as to develop the sort of personal relationships that lead to frank and candid discussions.
In a related area, I am very enthusiastic about a larger project to link legislators around the world via a computer network. This effort, called the 21st Century International Legislator's Project, under the directorship of General Charles Boyd (USAF Ret.), will produce information transfer among legislators around the globe at an unprecedented rate. Participation by Duma members will be important to the success of this project, and I will provide for you by separate communication the details of this historic effort to share with your fellow members as the initiation date nears.
I would appreciate your careful consideration of the proposal to establish a Congress-Duma Study Group. If you agree that such an organization should be established, I would ask that you appoint a member of the Duma to serve as a point of contact for Congressman Weldon to work with in developing the Study Group.
Speaker of the House.