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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Visit Canceled, U. S. and Russia Wait for Tokyo

Last weekend the official visit of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to the United States was supposed to begin. On Saturday and Sunday he was scheduled to travel around the country, and Monday and Tuesday the official part of the trip was to take place. But it was announced last week that the visit, the first by a Russian leader of such rank in the new administration, would be canceled.


Newspapers did not give many details: There were ultimatums on both sides, and the major stumbling block was the contract with India for the delivery of rocket technology.


During the Vancouver summit a resolution was adopted to create a commission on cooperation in space, which was to be called the Chernomyrdin-Gore Commission. The main goal of Chernomyrdin's visit was twofold: First, the signing of an agreement on space, second - the signing of documents on credits from the U. S. Export-Import Bank to the Russian energy sector amounting to $3 billion.


The Russian side wanted to sign a bilateral memorandum, in which Russia would announce its readiness to join the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). But Russia is against having this regime extend to the export of missile technology to CIS countries. Otherwise Russia would not be able to supply engines for the Zenit rocket to the Yuzhmash factory in Dnepropetrovsk. These rockets are then delivered to Russia. The Zenit rocket is one of the two main types of Russian rockets and also has a special significance for commercial production.


Another sore point involves information-sharing. If Russia has 10 days after signing the agreement on space to hand over all information on old space contracts, then Russia wants access to similar information from the U. S. There is no agreement on this point, either.


The third problem area is acknowledgement of the necessity for a transition period, during which Russia could make changes in its legal system and foreign trade regulations and could reexamine old contracts. The U. S. is demanding that Russia first examine its contracts, and only then sign the agreement. The contract with India, for the delivery of cryogenic boosters, falls into this category.


Russia maintains that it is being asked to make unilateral concessions. It is interesting that in the course of negotiations the American side acted in a purely Soviet way. Since there was no way of reaching an immediate agreement on space, we will cancel the prime minister's visit, said the Americans.


But in spite of the problems that have arisen, high-level officials in the Russian government think that the conflicts can be overcome when Boris Yeltsin meets Bill Clinton in Tokyo.