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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

WHAT THE PAPERS SAY: U.S. Wheels Out Sanctions to Cries of Foul Play

Three more scientific institutes have joined the seven Russian enterprises that the United States accused in July of breaking the nonproliferation regime on missile and nuclear technology cooperation with Iran. On Tuesday, President Clinton announced it would impose economic sanctions on NIKIET (The Scientific Research and Design Institute of Power Technology), the Mendeleyev University of Chemical Technology and the Moscow Aviation Institute. ...

The American d?marche was not unexpected by the Russian leadership. If one recalls the previous outbursts of American concern about Russian-Iranian relations, they always coincided with the latest session of the Gore-Chernomyrdin commission and were supposed to emphasize that the United States attaches particular importance to the matter. ... This time Washington timed them to coincide with Deputy Prime Minister Yury Maslyukov's visit to the United States that began Wednesday. Maslyukov must do some awkward explaining to the American administration about the need for the International Monetary Fund to extend financial assistance to Russia. It is clearly going to be extremely difficult for Moscow to emerge with dignity from this humiliation.

Both sides actually know very well that these three institutes are not particularly going to suffer from sanctions. If the director of the Moscow Aviation Institute, Alexander Matveyenko, is to be believed, two research programs worth half a million dollars would have to be cut back in his institute, representing only a small fraction of the overall work under way. The main sense of this business lies elsewhere. As Ivan Safranchuk, a specialist at the PIR-center for political studies, believes, the United States is forcing a specific deal onto Russia that goes something like this: You refuse to build the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran (which happens to be an absolutely legitimate project as far as nonproliferation of dual-use technology is concerned) and we will compensate you for losses incurred, for example by helping to ensure the creation of a reliable system of export control.

This leaves Moscow with an $800 million choice (the cost of the station project): either agree with such a proposal in favor of a "mature" partnership with the United States, or remain as America's "bad guy."

It's a tough call, considering that in the second variant the "bad guy" risks not receiving a tranche from the IMF and ends up with a very bad budget.

Vremya MN, Jan. 14

Multimillion Sting

On Wednesday, spokesmen from the three institutes categorically denied the allegations saying that their cooperation with Iran did not break any of Russia's international obligations on rocket and nuclear nonproliferation. This is clearly beyond doubt. But U.S. sanctions are a harsh reality nonetheless.

NIKIET expected to receive $5 million this year in joint research with the U.S. Department of Energy. Now they can forget about this money. This was, incidentally, money assigned by the Americans back in 1992 to projects for the reconstruction and modernization of Russian nuclear reactors of the Chernobyl type. Considering the realistic level of finances that will now be available, NIKIET will be unable to continue employing about 500 of its staff. No need to comment on this.

But that's just the beginning. [On Thursday] Interfax reported a statement by James Rubin, spokesman for the U.S. State Department, in which he said that the United States may curtail cooperation with Russia in the launch of space satellites if Moscow does not stop assisting Iran to create long-range missiles ... If this program is cut back our country will lose hundreds of millions of dollars.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Jan. 15

Until Proven Guilty

Purely on the grounds of "suspicions," the United States regards itself as justified in pronouncing sentence, be it in the form of a missile strike on a pharmaceutical factory outside Khartoum (later admitted to have been a "mistake") or sanctions against scientific centers in Russia. The presumption of innocence over guilt as a universally recognized principle of law is not respected in Washington. This is evident by other examples from the U.S. dossier under the unfortunately not yet obsolete heading of "Arrogance of Force."

Six months ago the United States imposed sanctions on seven other Russian companies it alleged were supplying Iran, Libya and North Korea with materials and equipment that have a dual application. Admittedly [federal Russian] counterintelligence agents from Lubyanka had never hidden the fact that a number of Iranian companies with direct links to [their country's] rocket program had been operating in Russia, but their activities have been halted. ...

It is not by chance that the announcement of the sanctions coincided with the visit to Washington of Deputy Prime Minister Yury Maslyukov. This is how the Americans aim to strengthen their position in discussions about the possible extension of new credits to Moscow by international financial institutions, where the Americans play a leading role. And it is not out of the question that this is also a tactic in the battle of competition, an attempt to deprive our science and research institutes of hard currency earn ings and thereby undermining the position of Russian science in those fields where Russia still leads and has export potential.

Izvestia, Jan. 14

Russia Shown Its Place

The Americans are clearly demonstrating what they think of Russia's attempts to maintain its own policies around the world and even within Russia independent of the United States. If there wasn't Iran, then another pretext would be found to show Russia just where its place is in the world. The United States is basically punishing Russia for its geopolitical realism: "Ah, so you and France are protesting against the bombing of Iraq; So, you're thinking about creating some kind of triangle with New Delhi and Beijing, are you?! Nope, this doesn't fit in with the United States' strategic interests and so we will do what it takes to stop this happening and we've got a whole lot of ways do this."

A cynical view of things, but considering the way U.S. interests are declared, with the United States playing the white figures on the great chessboard, it's a consistent line of behavior. But the United States is itself clearly showing double standards in its policy. It also once delivered a research reactor to Iran that contained 90 percent enriched uranium. And it was largely with the assistance of the United States that Iran now has very highly qualified nuclear scientists.

But times have changed. Without allies we are doomed to lose markets and influence. Our only real remaining ally is Belarus. But if at this stage in world history we have to concede something to the United States, then we should at least receive as compensation not just a few tens of thousands of dollars to pay the heat and electricity bills at the Moscow Aviation Institute, but some serious economic and above all technological assistance.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Jan. 15

New Space Race

In principal this step by Washington was to be easily foreseen. As well as in the market for nuclear technology, the space rocket launch market is another area where the scientific interests of the two countries painfully intersect. As with nuclear research, we are able to stay competitive mainly because we are able to provide quality services at the lowest prices on the world market.

Noviye Izvestia, Jan. 15