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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

INTRO:  President Clinton has signed into law a 
measure aimed at punishing Russia and other countries 
if they help Iran acquire weapons of mass destruction.   
Correspondent Deborah Tate reports from the White 
Text:  The Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000 - which 
was passed by the Senate last month after it was 
approved by the House last year - gives the United 
States the discretionary authority to impose sanctions 
on any country that gives nuclear, chemical or 
biological weapons technology or equipment to Iran.
For example, the new law bars the United States from 
making `extraordinary payments' to Russia's space 
agency for the International Space Station project 
unless Washington confirms that Moscow has not 
transferred nuclear, chemical or biological weapons or 
technology to Tehran during the previous year.  The 
Clinton administration has proposed paying 650 million 
dollars above the original amount pledged for Russia's 
space station to keep cash-strapped Moscow involved in 
the program.
In a written statement, Mr. Clinton says Russia 
remains "a valued partner" in the space station 
project, and that the new law would not affect 
Russia's role in the program.
The measure also calls for periodic reports to 
Congress identifying those who transfer weapons 
technology or equipment to Iran, and gives the 
President the authority to deny export licenses, 
government procurement and foreign assistance to those 
Mr. Clinton's statement says he fully shares the 
Congress' objective of promoting nonproliferation and 
combating Iran's efforts to acquire weapons of mass 
destruction and missile delivery systems.   He says 
the issue remains at the top of the agenda with Russia 
as well as with other countries whose companies may be 
providing such assistance to Iran.
The President had vetoed a stronger version of the 
bill in 1998 on grounds it would harm global efforts 
to block Iran's nuclear weapons programs.  He says he 
signed the later bill because it would not hurt such 
But Mr. Clinton does say the measure overlaps existing 
law, and pledges to work with Congress to reconcile 
such overlaps.   He notes the United States has 
imposed penalties against Russian firms on ten 
separate occasions for transferring weapons equipment 
or technology to Iran.
            /// REST OPT ///
The President signed the bill a day after he extended 
sanctions against Iran for another year, citing the 
threat posed to US national security, foreign policy 
and economy by Iran's support of terrorism, efforts to 
acquire weapons of mass destruction and attempts to 
undermine the Middle East peace process.
But in an effort to encourage reform and open a 
dialogue with Tehran, the United States this week is 
expected to announce an easing of its ban on imports 
of Iranian carpets, caviar and pistachio nuts.  The 
announcement is expected Friday.
Relations between Washington and Tehran have been 
severed ever since the Islamic revolution in Iran in 
1979.  (Signed)
14-Mar-2000 20:45 PM EDT (15-Mar-2000 0145 UTC)
Source: Voice of America

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