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Public Papers - 1992 - March

Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on Trade With the Former Soviet Union


The remarkable changes occurring in Russia and the other new States of the former Soviet Union offer the United States Government and the private sector unique opportunities to expand trade with these countries, especially in high-technology areas that have not before been readily available to us.

The administration's policy is to actively seek opportunities to acquire goods, services, and technologies from the new republics that benefit our economic and other security interests and to encourage private business to expand their search for new opportunities. We are particularly interested in access to new technologies that can be acquired economically. To facilitate this process we are moving to eliminate restrictions that prevented normal trade during the cold war. We are therefore announcing today several steps to promote greater levels of trade with these countries consistent with our firm support for democratic and market economic reforms.

First, the administration will promote a greater exchange of technology between our countries in an area once closed by both sides. Specifically:

We will authorize the procurement by the Department of Defense of the Russian Topaz space power unit that will give us access to new technology at a significantly lower cost than if we were to try to develop it ourselves.

We will also authorize the purchase by the Department of Defense of four Hall thrusters which have possible applications for efficient orbital transfers of satellites, and we have approved a license application for a private U.S. firm to proceed towards the purchase of these devices.

We will authorize a purchase of plutonium-238 from Russia, an isotope of plutonium not used in nuclear explosives. This purchase will allow us to meet NASA schedules for needed space power supplies economically and without the need to restart a nuclear reactor to do so.

Second, we are also working to remove remaining barriers to commercial imports of nonmilitary items involving the private sector. In those few instances where import licenses may be required, we will review such licenses expeditiously.

Third, I would also note that the United States and our allies have reduced COCOM controls by over two-thirds and will continue to work to ensure that we maintain only those controls on high-technology trade that are needed to protect our most vital security interests. In that regard, the American business community should be assured that export licenses for civilian transactions will be processed expeditiously.

These transactions clearly signal our desire to normalize trade with the new States.

Additional details are available in a separate fact sheet.

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