On the eve of President Clinton’s departure for Moscow, Republican congressional leaders urged him to take a tougher stance with the Russian government over its planned sale of nuclear technology to Iran.
They warned that foreign aid to Russia would likely be cut off by Capitol Hill unless the deal is halted.
If Clinton cannot persuade Russian President Boris Yeltsin in meetings this week to halt the sale of two nuclear reactors to Teheran, Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Dole, R-Kan., predicted, “then we’ve got a real problem: I think it’s going to really cool relations with Yeltsin, with the Russian Republic.”
Congress is already “a little leery” of foreign aid to Russia - which was more than $1 billion last year from various federal sources - because of Moscow’s bloody handling of the rebellion in Chechnya, Dole said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., sounded a similar note on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” warning of “catastrophic consequences in the Congress” if the nuclear transfer to Iran goes through.
The Clinton administration last week announced a U.S. trade embargo on Iran.
But the Republicans’ comments, among the sharpest so far on the issue, intensified the debate over the related question of how bluntly to deal with Moscow.