President Putin: Middle East arms merchant
By Jim Kouri
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 also showed a willingness to earn much-needed funds by providing WMD or missile-related teaching and training for foreign students.
Given the large potential proliferation impact of such exports, transfers, and training, monitoring the activities of specific entities as well as the overall effectiveness of the Russian Government's nonproliferation regime remained an important element of the US bilateral dialogue with Russia on nonproliferation.
Russia continued to play a key role in constructing the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant project in Iran. However, President Putin has insisted that all Iranian programs in the nuclear field be placed under International Atomic Energy Agency control.
President Putin amended the presidential decree on nuclear exports to allow Russia in exceptional cases to export nuclear materials, technology, and equipment to countries that do not have full-scope IAEA safeguards. For example, Russia supplied India with material for its civilian nuclear program.
The Russians during the reporting period continued to supply a variety of ballistic missile-related goods and technical know-how to countries such as Iran, India, and China. Iran's earlier success in gaining technology and materials from Russia helped to accelerate Iranian development of the Shahab-3 MRBM, and continuing Russian entity assistance has supported Iranian efforts to develop new missiles and increase Tehran's self-sufficiency in missile production.
The Russians remained a key source of dual-use biotechnology equipment, chemicals and related expertise for countries of concern with active chemical and biological weapons programs. Russia's well-known biological and chemical expertise made it an attractive target for countries seeking assistance in areas with CBW applications.
For instance, Russia and Syria have continued their long-standing agreements on cooperation regarding nuclear energy, although specific assistance has not yet materialized. Broader access to foreign expertise provides opportunities to expand its indigenous capabilities and the CIA is looking at Syrian nuclear intentions with growing concern.
Damascus continued to seek help from abroad to establish a solid-propellant rocket motor development and production capability. Syria's liquid-propellant missile program continued to depend on essential foreign equipment and assistance—primarily from North Korean entities. Damascus also continued to manufacture liquid-propellant Scud missiles. In addition, Syria was developing longer-range missile programs such as a Scud D and possibly other variants with assistance from North Korea and Iran.
Syria continued to seek chemical weapons-related expertise from foreign sources during the reporting period. Damascus already held a stockpile of the nerve agent sarin, but apparently tried to develop more toxic and persistent nerve agents. Syria remained dependent on foreign sources for key elements of its CW program, including precursor chemicals and key production equipment. It is highly probable that Syria also continued to develop an offensive BW capability.
Syria continued to acquire limited quantities of ACW, mainly from Russia. Damascus's Soviet-era debt to Moscow and inability to fund large purchases continued to hamper efforts to purchase the large quantity of equipment Syria requires to replace its aging weapons inventory.
Russia continued to be a major supplier of conventional arms. Following Moscow's abrogation of the Gore-Chernomyrdin agreement in November 2000, Russian officials stated that they saw Iran as a significant source of potential revenue from arms sales and believed that Tehran could become Russia's third-largest conventional arms customer after China and India.
Russia was the primary source for China, Iran, Libya, and Sudan, and one of the largest sources for India. As an example, Russia actively marketed its thermobaric weapons at international arms shows, which likely increases the availability of this type of weapon in the open market.Russia continued to be the main supplier of technology and equipment to India's and China's naval nuclear propulsion programs.
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