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Russia Criticizes U.S. Bill

September 16, 1999

MOSCOW (AP) _ Russia on Thursday criticized U.S. lawmakers for passing a measure directed at Russia that would impose sanctions on countries that help Iran develop weapons of mass destruction.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said the bill could seriously damage the two countries’ relations. The measure, passed 419-0 in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, could have ``the most negative impact on U.S.-Russian cooperation in the fields of nonproliferation and export control,″ the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said the measure, which would levy sanctions on countries that help Iran develop nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, was an attempt to ``escalate anti-Russian sanctions under a pretext of Russian rocket technology leaks to Iran.″

Russia has previously given assurances that it wasn’t cooperating with Iran to build rockets and that it had taken serious steps to complete a national system of export controls.

President Clinton’s administration has said senior advisers would recommend that the president veto the bill, which would require the president to cut economic sanctions to countries involved in Iranian weapons proliferation unless he cites national security reasons.

The measure also would withhold $590 million the United States is to pay Russia for its participation in the international space station program until the president determines that Russia is actively opposing proliferation to Iran.

Clinton vetoed a similar bill last year. The Senate has not yet considered the bill.

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