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 Legislation requires President to certify that classified data or technology provided to Russia would not end up in Iranian or Syrian hands

 

Congressional notification requirement sets up 60 days of public debate if Administration breaks commitment to Kirk that it “will not provide Russia with sensitive information about our missile defense systems that would in any way compromise our national security”

 

Former Director of U.S. Missile Defense Agency: “U.S. can pursue meaningful missile defense cooperation with Russia without sharing any classified data or technology”

 

Kirk Lifts Hold on McFaul Nomination to Moscow

 

 

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) today applauded passage of the FY12 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Report (expected to be approved by President Obama) which includes a modified version of the “Brooks Amendment” to heighten protection of classified U.S. missile defense information and increase congressional oversight and public debate over future Administration attempts to provide such information to Russia.

 

On top of a White House letter to Senator Kirk this week promising that the Administration “will not provide Russia with sensitive information about our missile defense systems that would in any way compromise our national security,” the new law requires the Administration to publicly notify Congress of its intention to transfer classified missile defense information to Russia 60 days prior to any such transfer.  In its notification, the Administration must certify that adequate measures are in place to protect the information from unauthorized disclosure, including a description of the manner in which the information will be protected from unauthorized sharing or transfer to third parties as well as an analysis of the risks to the capabilities of the United States ballistic missile defense system if the information is shared or transferred to an unauthorized third party like Iran or Syria.

 

“With a key Russian missile defense official going to Iran in January, their historic support for Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and support for the Assad dictatorship in Syria, the Administration cannot truthfully certify to Congress that classified missile defense information provided to Russia will not end up in Iranian or Syrian hands,” Senator Kirk said.  “If the Administration decides to move forward with plans to provide Russia with sensitive information that could compromise our national security, they should fully expect a vigorous and public debate for two full months before any initiative moves forward.”

 

“In light of this new law and Administration’s written commitments to me, I will support Michael McFaul’s nomination to become our Ambassador to Moscow.  He clearly knows of the Congress’s view that any classified missile defense information given to Russia will end up in Iran and Syria,” Kirk said.

 

Last week, Lieutenant General (Ret.) Henry Obering, the former Director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, sent a letter to Senator Kirk concluding that “the U.S. can pursue meaningful missile defense cooperation with Russia without sharing any classified data or technology” and that he would “strongly recommend that there not be any provision of classified data or technology to the Russian Federation just to achieve missile defense cooperation for cooperation’s sake.”

 

Details from a recent Kirk memo outlining the Senator’s concerns about sharing classified missile defense information with Russia appear below.

 

Reports of Russian Behavior November-December 2011

 

·         Russia supplied Bastion coastal missile systems with Yakhont cruise missiles to Syria under a contract signed in 2007, a diplomatic source in Moscow has told Interfax.  “The Yakhont supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles have been supplied as part of Bastion mobile coastal missile systems,” the source said. (Interfax, December 2)

 

·         Russia steadfastly refuses to support additional sanctions against Iran despite a report by the IAEA outlining major advances in Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Russia continues to demand that the international community pursue a diplomatic solution, an effort that continues to bear no results. (Reuters, November 9) 

 

·         Russian officials stated that the Russian Federation is ready to construct additional nuclear reactors in Iran.  Sergey Kiriyenko, the head of Russia’s atomic nuclear agency, reportedly said, “We are looking into it, we have the orders, so we are working this proposal through, since building specifically nuclear reactors is not an issue of doubt in the international community.” (Reuters, November 10) 

 

·         Russian scientist Vyacheslav Danilenko’s efforts are alluded to in an IAEA report showing that Iran continues to make significant progress in the development of a nuclear weapon. (Washington Post, November 13) 

 

·         Russia will deploy new missiles aimed at U.S. missile defense sites in Europe if Washington goes ahead with the planned shield despite Russia’s concerns, President Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday.  (Associated Press, November 23) 

 

·         Russia will deploy missiles and could withdraw from the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty if the United States moves forward with its plans for a missile-defense system in Europe, President Dmitry Medvedev warned Wednesday. (New York Times, November 24) 

 

·         Russian envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin will visit China and Iran in mid-January to discuss a U.S.-backed global missile defense network. (RIA, November 28) 

 

·         According to foreign reports, despite the mounting protests against President Bashar al-Asad’s regime and notwithstanding Israeli and US pressure on Russia, Damascus and Russia have begun to carry out the advanced Yakhont (P-800 Oniks) anti-ship cruise missile deal. The reports claim that an unknown number of missiles will be delivered to Syria by boat and will soon reach the port of Tartus. (Tel Aviv Walla!, November 24) 

 

·         Despite the ongoing crackdown against peaceful Syrian demonstrators in Syria and widespread Arab against Assad’s tactics, Russia continues to oppose sanctions or action in the United Nations that would increase pressure on the Syrian regime.  (Reuters, November 17) 

 

·         Russia opposes any imposition of an arms embargo on Syria and believes some countries should stop threatening Damascus with ultimatums, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday.  (Reuters, November 29) 

 

·         Russia will send a flotilla of warships led by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier to its naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus in the spring of 2012, the Russian navy said. (Izvestia Daily, November 28)

 

Russian Collaboration with Iran

 

Russia maintains long-standing ties with Iran, including sharing of information and knowledge related to sensitive topics.  As part of its assistance to Iran in building the Bushehr nuclear reactor, Russia has trained some 1,500 Iranian nuclear engineers, according to the Congressional Research Service.[1]

 

As reported by the US Open Source Center (OSC) on March 22, 2011, Tehran has maintained a “Scientific Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Russia” since 1992, housed at the Iranian Embassy in Moscow.  A separate office was established for Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Ukraine after there was an “increase in students” in 2006. According to the OSC, the Scientific Representative’s office provides information on Iranian laboratories and research centers as well as Russian high-technology companies.  It also publishes a monthly journal in Russia and a Persian-language website “providing information on scientific activities in Russia for consumption by Iranians.” [2]

 

Russia also has a long and ongoing record of assisting Iran’s ballistic missile programs. Below is a chronology of Russian-Iranian ballistic missile activities, including relevant findings from the annual State Department Proliferation Report to Congress, as well as the intelligence community’s annual Threat Assessment to Congress and reports mandated by section 721 of the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997:

 

·         2011 — The annual 721 report states that Russian entities “are among likely suppliers” to Iran’s ballistic missile programs. 

 

In addition, the office of the Director of National Intelligence confirmed that it still remains the intelligence community’s view “that individual Russian entities continue to provide assistance to Iran’s ballistic missile programs. We judge that Russian-entity assistance, along with assistance from entities in China and North Korea, has helped Iran move toward self-sufficiency in the production of ballistic missiles.”

 

·         2010 — Executive Order 12938 sanctions were lifted for two Russian entities (Baltic State Technical University and Glavkosmos) who were sanctioned by the Department of State in 1998 for proliferation activities with Iran related to ballistic missiles.

 

·         2009 — The annual 721 Report noted continued Iranian progress in its ballistic and space programs, but still remains dependent on foreign suppliers for key missile components. Although continued Chinese and North Korean assistance is suggested, the report notes Russian assistance as an activity conducted done in the past.

 

·         2008 — The annual State Department Proliferation Report to Congress stated that “Russian entities also engaged in missile-related transfer activity.”

 

The annual 721 Report noted that Russia launched Iran’s first satellite into orbit with an imagery payload, and signed an agreement to build and launch a communications satellite. The report added that “assistance from entities in China and North Korea, as well as assistance from Russian entities at least in the past, has helped Iran move toward self-sufficiency in the production of ballistic missiles. Iran still remains dependent on foreign suppliers for some key missile components, however.”

 

·         2007 — The annual State Department Proliferation Report to Congress stated that “Russian entities also engaged in missile-related transfer activity.” 

 

The annual 721 Report stated that that Iran currently is focusing on producing more capable MRBMs, which received earlier assistance from Russian entities that accelerated Iran’s capabilities in this area. Russian-entity assistance, along with assistance from entities in China and North Korea, has helped Iran move toward self-sufficiency in the production of ballistic missiles. Iran remains dependent on foreign suppliers for some key missile components.

 

In addition, the Director on National Intelligence stated in a letter to Congress on March 1, 2007 that “We assess that individual Russian entities continue to provide assistance to Iran’s ballistic missile programs.  We judge that Russian-entity assistance, along with assistance from entities in China and North Korea, has helped Iran move toward self-sufficiency in the production of ballistic missiles.” 

 

·         2006 — The annual 721 Report stated that Iran continued to pursue development, production, and deployment of an array of ballistic missiles with foreign assistance and has proliferated some of the missile-related technologies it has already mastered. Iran’s earlier success in gaining technology and materials from Russian entities and continuing assistance by such entities, probably supports Iranian efforts to develop new longer-range missiles and increases Tehran’s self-sufficiency in missile production.

 

·         2005— The annual State Department Proliferation Report to Congress stated that “Russian entities have engaged in missile-related transfer activity, especially with Iran.”

 

·         2004 — The annual State Department Proliferation Report to Congress stated that “Russian entities have engaged in missile-related transfer activity, especially with Iran and India.” 

 

The annual 721 Report stated that Iran continued to seek foreign materials, training, equipment, and know-how 2004 focused particularly on entities in Russia, China, North Korea, and Europe. Ballistic missile-related cooperation from entities in the former Soviet Union, North Korea, and China over the years has helped Iran move toward its goal of becoming self-sufficient in the production of ballistic missiles. Russian entities have supplied a variety of ballistic missile-related goods and technical know- how to countries such as Iran.

 

Category II Missile Sanctions were imposed on a Russian company. The Federal Register Notice of that sanction did not mention which country or which specific missile-related technologies were involved. Neither did the State Department mention the other country involved.  Media reports, however, suggested that State’s focus was on the Russian company’s trade with Iran, specifically missiles and components for Iran’s intermediate-range ballistic missile programs.

 

·         2003 — The annual State Department Proliferation Report to Congress stated that “Russian entities have engaged in missile-related transfer activity, especially with Iran and India.”  The 721 reports repeated many of the points made in the 2002 721 reports (below) and added that Russia’s cash-strapped defense, biotechnology, chemical, aerospace, and nuclear industries continued to be eager to raise funds via exports and transfers. Some Russian universities and scientific institutes showed a willingness to earn much-needed funds by providing WMD or missile-related teaching and training for foreign students.

 

·         2002 — The first 721 Report stated that Iran continued to seek foreign materials, training, equipment, and know- how, focused particularly on entities in Russia, China, North Korea, and Europe. Ballistic missile-related cooperation from entities in the former Soviet Union, North Korea and China over the years has helped Iran move toward its goal of becoming self-sufficient in the production of ballistic missiles. Russian entities during the reporting period continued to supply a variety of ballistic missile-related goods and technical know-how to countries such as Iran.

 

The second 721 Report reiterated the first 2002 721 Report’s assessment, adding that Iran’s earlier success in gaining technology and materials from Russian entities has helped to accelerate Iranian development of the Shahab-3 MRBM. Continuing Russian entity assistance most likely supported Iranian efforts to develop new missiles and increase Tehran’s self-sufficiency in missile production

 

·         2001 — The first 721 Report stated that “entities in Russia, China, and North Korea continued to supply crucial ballistic missile-related equipment, technology, and expertise to Iran.” Iran’s earlier success in getting technology and materials from Russian entities “has helped to accelerate Iranian development of the Shahab-3 MRBM, and continuing Russian assistance likely supports Iranian efforts to develop new missiles and increase Tehran’s self-sufficiency in missile production.”

 

The second 721 Report reiterated the points made about Iran and Russian cooperation. The Report added that “despite progress in creating a legal and bureaucratic framework for Russia’s export controls, lax enforcement and insufficient penalties for violations remain a serious concern. To reduce the outward flow of WMD and missile-related materials, technology, and expertise, top officials must take a sustained effort to convince exporting entities – as well as the bureaucracy whose job it is to oversee them – that nonproliferation is a top priority and that those who violate the law will be prosecuted.”

 

·         2000 — The first 721 Report stated that during the first half of the year, entities in Russia, North Korea, and China continued to supply the largest amount of ballistic-related goods, technology, and expertise to Iran, and that Iran is using this expertise to support current production programs and to pursue self-sufficiency in the production of ballistic missiles. Russian entities during this period have provided substantial missile- related technology, training, and expertise to Iran that almost certainly will continue to accelerate Iranian efforts to develop new ballistic missile systems. The second 721 Report essentially reiterated the points made in the earlier 2000 721 Report.

 

Russian Espionage Against the United States

 

In his testimony to Congress in September 2007, then-Director of National Intelligence, Michael McConnell stated that Russia’s foreign intelligence efforts reached “Cold War levels” during the presidency of former KGB officer Vladimir Putin (2000-2008).[3]   As evidenced by the June 27, 2010 arrest of ten Russian “illegals” in New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Virginia on charges of acting as agents of a foreign power, Russia’s espionage activities against the United States continue unabated.

 

Compiled with the assistance of the Congressional Research Service, below are summaries of each of the cases of Russia’s espionage efforts against the US after the fall of the Berlin Wall:

 

“Illegals Group” (2010)

 

On June 27, 2010, the United States arrested ten Russians in New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Virginia on charges of acting as agents of a foreign power (another individual was outside the United States and apparently escaped).  Some of the agents—who were termed “sleeper,” “deep cover,” or “illegal” spies (the latter term juxtaposing their status to “legal” or official Russian diplomats and others)—had been paired as couples by the Russian SVR prior to deployment. Most of the spies had lived under assumed names with U.S. or Canadian false citizenship in several U.S. metropolitan areas for up to 10 years or longer.  

 

All the “illegals” were arrested on charges of not registering as foreign agents and most on additional charges of money-laundering. An FBI investigation against the “deep cover” agents reportedly had been ongoing for several years.  After the United States obtained guilty pleas from the ten that they had conspired to act as agents of Russia, they were swapped in Vienna, Austria, on July 9, 2010, for four Russian citizens whom Moscow had alleged were U.S. or British spies. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met with the agents upon their return to thank them for their service, and in October 2010, Russian President Medvedev reportedly gave them awards.

 

Nathaniel James Nicholson (2008)

 

On January 29, 2009, a federal indictment was unsealed charging Nathaniel Nicholson with conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government and conspiracy to commit money laundering. On August 27, 2009, he pleaded guilty to the charges. He allegedly had assisted his father, Harold James (see below) by meeting with Russian agents to collect money owed to the father and to offer information. Upon sentencing on December 7, 2010, he was given a five-year suspended sentence, reportedly because he had cooperated with prosecutors in making a case against his father.

 

Ariel Jonathan Weinmann (2006)

 

Ariel Weinmann, a fire control technician in the U.S. Navy, was arrested on March 26, 2006, on charges of desertion that later were enlarged to include espionage for Russia. In October 2005, he had entered the Russian Embassy in Vienna, Austria and handed an official a binder full of classified documents on the Tomahawk missile system. He pleaded guilty at court-martial to espionage, desertion, theft, and destruction of military property and was sentenced on December 10, 2006, to 12 years in prison with eligibility for parole after four years in prison under a plea agreement.

 

Robert Philip Hanssen (2001)

 

Robert Hanssen, an agent for the FBI for 27 years, was charged on February 20, 2001, with spying for Russia for more than 15 years. Hanssen provided first the Soviet and then the Russian government over 6,000 pages of classified documents and the identities of three Russian agents working for the US. On May 11, 2002, he was sentenced to life in prison.

 

Russian Diplomatic Representatives and Employees (2001)

 

In the wake of Hanssen’s arrest, nearly 50 members of the Russian diplomatic representation in the U.S.A. reportedly were declared persona non grata in two reported waves of expulsions. 

 

George Trofimoff (2000)

 

George Troffimoff, retired US Army Reserve colonel, was arrested on June 14, 2000, on charges of spying for the Soviet Union and Russia for 25 years. According to the FBI, Trofimoff provided classified information while employed in a civilian job in Nuremburg, Germany, from 1969 to 1994, following his military retirement. Trofimoff had been arrested by German authorities for suspected espionage in 1994, but the case was dropped because the statute of limitations had expired. The investigation, however, was continued by US officials. Trofimoff, the highest ranking US officer ever accused of spying, was sentenced to life imprisonment on September 28, 2001.

 

Stanislav Gusev (1999)

 

Stanislav Gusev, an attaché at the Russian Embassy in the US, was detained on December 8, 1999, on suspicion of espionage against the State Department, and upon declaring diplomatic immunity, was declared persona non grata. 

 

According to Assistant Director of the FBI Neil Gallagher and other sources, Gusev was engaged in downloading information from a listening and transmittal device in a 7th floor conference room of the State Department. Assistant Director Gallagher stated that “this incident by itself sends a strong message that there is a very aggressive Russian intelligence presence operation inside the United States. That is an issue that the U.S. government has and continues to be concerned about. As to the numbers and extent, that’s probably a larger issue that’s beyond this particular operation. There have been some discussions concerning the Russian intelligence presence and I’m sure they’ll continue, but it just points to the seriousness and the need for the FBI to maintain a very aggressive counterintelligence program.”

 

Earl Edwin Pitts (1996)

 

Earl Pitts, senior FBI agent, was arrested on December 18, 1996, on charges of providing classified information to the Russian intelligence services from 1987 until 1992. Pitts allegedly turned over Top Secret documents to the KGB (and after the collapse of the Soviet Union, to the Russian SVR), including a list of FBI assets who were providing intelligence on Russia. He pleaded guilty to two counts of espionage and on June 23, 1997, was sentenced to 27 years in prison. 

 

Harold James Nicholson (1996)

 

Harold Nicholson, a Central Intelligence Agency officer, was arrested on charges of espionage for Russia on November 16, 1996. Counterintelligence officials believe that he began spying for Russian intelligence in mid-1994. He passed a wide range of highly classified information to Moscow, including biographic information on CIA case officers, and also compromised the identities of U.S. and foreign business people who had provided information to the CIA. On June 6, 1997, he was sentenced to over 23 years in prison.

 

On January 18, 2011, Nicholson was sentenced to an additional 8 years in prison following his guilty pleas to the crimes of conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government and conspiracy to commit international money laundering, the first time an imprisoned spy had been convicted for new spying. He admitted that from 2006 to December 2008, with the assistance of his son Nathaniel (see above), he had passed information to Russia and received cash from Russia for his past espionage activities.

 

Kurt G. Lessenthien (1996)

 

Kurt Lessenthien, a Navy petty officer, was arrested in Orlando, Florida, on April 3, 1996, on charges of attempted espionage after offering information about nuclear submarine technology to a Russian embassy official. On October 28, 1996, he was sentenced by a military court to 27 years under a plea agreement. 

 

Aleksandr Iosifovich Lysenko (1994)

 

On February 25, 1994, the State Department notified the Russian Embassy that a counselor in the embassy, Aleksandr Lysenko, who was the head of the embassy’s SVR contingent, was persona non grata. The State Department spokesman indicated that “the United States believes that this individual was in a position to be responsible for the activities associated with the Ames espionage case, and for that reason, we insisted to the Russian government that he be held accountable…. We do not rule out taking additional action against any other Russian diplomats who are subsequently implicated in the Ames affair.”

 

Aldrich Hazen Ames and Maria Del Rosario Casas Ames (1994)

 

Aldrich Ames, CIA intelligence officer and his Colombian-born wife Maria Del Rosario Casas Ames, were arrested on February 21, 1994, on charges of providing highly classified information to the Soviet KGB and later, to its successor, the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), over a nine-year period. Information provided by Ames led to the unexplained disappearance or deaths of numerous US intelligence sources overseas.  On April 28, 1994, Aldrich Ames and his wife pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit espionage and to evading taxes. Ames was immediately sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. Maria Rosario Ames was sentenced to five years and three months in prison for conspiring to commit espionage and evading taxes.

 

Beyond a persistent effort to conduct espionage against the United States, Russia’s continued support of Iranian ballistic missile and nuclear programs also raises serious questions about Russia’s commitment to countering the Iranian threat. Since 2000, the annual State Department Proliferation Report to Congress as well as the intelligence community’s annual Threat Assessment to Congress and reports mandated by section 721 of the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997 continue to highlight cooperation between Russian entities and the Iranian ballistic missile program such as the Russian provision of material and technical advice that accelerated the development of Iran’s Shahab-3 Medium Range Ballistic Missile. 

 

In 1999 the United States sanctioned Russian universities for providing WMD and missile-related instruction to foreign students, knowledge that is likely instrumental in Iran’s domestic missile development programs. According to these US Government reports Iran remains dependent on foreign material assistance to further its nuclear program and Russian entities remain involved despite American efforts to halt their activity.

 

[1] Katzman, Kenneth. “Iran:  US Concerns and Policy Responses”, Congressional Research Service, April 7, 2011.

[2] US Open Source Center, “Iranian Websites Promote Scientific Collaboration With Russia”, March 22, 2011. 

 

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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