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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Drops Its Soyuz Spacecraft Ban

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Congress on Wednesday passed a bill allowing U.S. astronauts to fly on Russian Soyuz spacecraft through the end of 2011 in a move to forestall the possibility that the United States would lose access to the international space station.

The legislation amends the 2000 Iran Nonproliferation Act that prohibits use of most Russian space technology and know-how as long as Russia is exporting nuclear and missile technology to Iran.

The House unanimously passed the bill, a modified version of legislation passed by the Senate last month.

The bill enables the United States to escape the consequences of a congressional effort to toughen the response of then-President Bill Clinton to Russian support for Iran's nuclear ambitions.

The prohibition has never taken effect because of a prior agreement under which Russia agreed to provide 11 free Soyuz trips to the United States.