BOX 1-1 Recent Foreign Policy Issues with Significant STH Content
Communications Satellites and Technology Transfer
In the fall of 1998, the U.S. Senate reviewed the decisions of the Department of Commerce to provide licenses to U.S. manufacturers for launching U.S.-made communications satellites and foreign satellites with U.S.-made components on Chinese rockets. The point of contention was whether the space launch activities had significantly benefited China's missile or military satellite capabilities.
In looking to the future, the discussion centered on whether the Department of Commerce, with its major interest in promoting U.S. commercial sales, was the appropriate department to issue licenses for a technology with such obvious military relevance, whatever the safeguards to protect the technology, Late in 1998, Congress decided to transfer the licensing authority back to the Department of State.
Given the growing importance of space-based communications systems throughout the world and the commercial stakes involved, this type of controversy over sales versus national security will continue for the indefinite future.
U.S. Sanctions on Russian Scientific Institutions
During 1998–1999, the U.S. Government, acting on recommendations of the Department of State, determined that a number of Russian institutions were transferring technology of relevance to weapons of mass destruction and advanced conventional weapons to Middle Eastern countries. In view of the seriousness of such transfers, the government imposed prohibitions on U.S. procurement of goods, technologies, or services from these institutions; U.S. assistance to the institutions; and imports of goods, technology, or services from these institutions into the United States. The first determination was that seven of the Institutions had transferred or planned to transfer missile-related items to Iran, the second was that three had transferred or planned to transfer nuclear-related or missile-related items to Iran, and the third was that three had transferred or planned to transfer lethal armaments to Syria.
Each of these determinations involved a decision that the technology transfer reached a level of concern that warranted stopping ongoing cooperative programs designed to advance U.S. national security through engagement of Russian institutions in programs of mutual interest. The technical judgments as to the gains to the potential recipients of the transfers required sophisticated understanding of the problems involved in designing and manufacturing advanced weapons systems. Further, judgments as to the scientific and technological losses to the United States from proposed termination of cooperation were important.
Removal of Uranium from Kazakhstan
In 1994, the American Ambassador in Almaty received a request from the Kazakh Government to provide assistance in disposing of weapons-grade highly enriched uranium left over from the Soviet era. The Ambassador, in close consultation with the Department and other U.S. Government departments and agencies, helped orchestrate a complicated, highly classified response that led to the transfer of 600 kilograms of uranium to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, thereby removing a potential proliferation problem. The operation, called Project Sapphire, was carried