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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Space Boss To Discuss Arms Deal

Yury Koptev, the head of Russia's space agency, flew to the United States on Tuesday for meetings with American aerospace officials that will probably spell the end of a deal for Russia to sell rocket technology to India.


Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin abruptly canceled a trip to Washington in June in the face of intense U. S. opposition to the sale.


Chernomyrdin is now scheduled to leave for the United States on Sunday. Koptev plans to lay the groundwork for the prime minister's visit, said Boris Ostroumov, deputy director of the Russian space agency.


Koptev told Itar-Tass that he will also be looking into the lucrative commercial satellite launch business, which Russia hopes will help it keep its space program afloat.


He told Itar-Tass that commercial launches could eventually be far more profitable than missile technology deals like the one with India.


The deal with India for two cryogenic rocket engines, said to be worth $350 million, was signed two years ago by the now defunct Soviet Union.


The United States objected to the sale, saying it would give India sensitive technology, and threatened Russia with sanctions.


Alarms have also gone off in Washington over other Russian sales to India, China and Iran of high-tech weaponry.


A Russian delegation led visited Washington in July and initialed the Missile Technology Transfer Control Regime, which would effectively prohibit the Indian deal.


The United States has said that in exchange for signing the treaty, Russia may get access to lucrative commercial space contracts and would also be financed to cooperate with the United States on developing a space station.


But parliament and part of the government have opposed the deal, saying it would hurt Russia's reputation and offered no immediate concrete commercial benefit. Parliament has said it must approve any treaty on the limitation of space technology.


Russia has been trying to hang on to a share of the international arms market while it makes the transition from a communist to a market economy.