MOSCOW: Russian President Boris Yeltsin has suspended transfer of rocket technology to India following objections from the United States.

Yeltsin has ordered “a pause” in fulfilling the $2 million contract between the Russian space agency Glavkosmo and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) the Russia youth daily “Kemsomolskaya Pravda” reported on Saturday.

The American objection to the deal was raised during Secretary of State James Baker’s visit to Moscow in February. He has told Russian foreign minister Alrei Kozyrev that the deal with India “created” serious problems” with US-Russian cooperation in space and warned that the US might impose trade sanctions against Russia if the contract was no scraped.

At another meeting in Brussels on March 6 Baker told Kozyrev that if Russia did not annul the contract swiftly the US may reconsider the idea of trade sanctions

On March 23 Baker summoned the Russian ambassador in Washington Viadimir Lukin and demanded that the contract be snapped by April 3.

Russian deputy foreign minister Bercennikov had two meetings with the minister on April 3 and 7 and mooted the idea of a Russian American expert meeting to discuss the contract.

But Collins rejected the idea and told the Russian deputy foreign minister that the decision to take a “tough stand” on the issue was taken at the highest political level in Washington with the involvement of the secretary of state “The American side had no opportunity for maneuver or flexibility” he was reported to have said.

 Meanwhile President Yeltsin had called for and received five reports from state secretary Gennady Burbulis Ministry of Economy foreign trade ministry foreign ministry and the armed forces headquarters on the deal He took the decision on April 9 and instructed the foreign ministry to insist on an expert-level meet with the US to discuss the issue.

The Russian-Indian rocket technology deal came to light when Russian MP Vitaly Sevastyano a former cosmonaut asked for investigation and explanation from Yeltsin in the Congress of People’s Deputies on why the Russian foreign minister was backing the US stand on the deal with India conceding the US claim that the contract was a breach of “missile technology nonproliferation.” He wanted to know why the minister did not back “Glavkosmos” and insist that it was a deal for” peaceful purposes.”

According to the political observer of “Komsomolskaya Pravda” secretary of state Burbulis and foreign trade ministry headed by Pyoter Aven firmly backed the deal with India white the foreign economy ministries and the armed forces headquarters had taken a “flexible stand.”

The daily reported that India had taken all the obligations required for the transfer of technology under the missile technology proliferation control regime. “Moreover the cryogenic rocket boosters cannot be put to military use because they have to be fueled 90 days before the launch” it added.

According to Alexander Vasiliyev of the daily if the contact with India was annulled it would be a big blow to the prestige of Russia as a reliable partner in space cooperation as unlike France and China it would have failed to resist Washington’s dictate.

Article extracted from this publication >> May 1, 1992