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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Praises Russia Vow On Arms

WASHINGTON -- The administration of U.S. President Bill Clinton is hailing a little-noticed announcement that could restrict the flow of Russian technology helpful to Iran's development of medium- and long-range ballistic missiles.

As officials described it, no issue has dominated U.S.-Russian discussions over the past six months more than the assistance Russian enterprises allegedly have been providing Iran for its weapons program.

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright broached the issue Tuesday during an unannounced meeting with the head of the Russian Space Agency, Yury Koptev.

Long months of U.S. arm-twisting, mostly by senior U.S. diplomat Frank Wisner, paid off last week when Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin issued an order to tighten controls over the export of technologies that can be used for both civilian and military purposes.

The order affects the transfer of goods and services and also exchanges of experts between Russia and Iran.

U.S. officials who briefed reporters said the Russians came around to the view that it was not in their interest to have neighboring countries such as Iran develop weaponry that could someday be used against Russia.

While praising the breakthrough, the officials said they cannot be certain how effective Russian enforcement mechanisms will be.

The officials believe that Iran sees Russia as a ripe target for acquiring weapons technology.

Russia not only has the expertise, but also is going through post-Soviet economic distress.

Last fall, some U.S. lawmakers pushed for sanctions against Russian government agencies and firms thought to be helping Iran with its missile-building program.

Russia has acknowledged that Iranians have courted Russian firms in an attempt to obtain missile technology. It denied the Russian government has been involved in any such activities.

Russian officials said U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen will visit Russia Feb. 11-12 to discuss NATO, Bosnia and bilateral military cooperation, Agence France Presse reported from Moscow.

Cohen will hold the talks with his Russian counterpart, Igor Sergeyev, sources quoted by Itar-Tass said.