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Bill Proposed to Curb Missile Technology Spread

Times Staff Writer

A bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers, moving to curb the spread of ballistic missile technology, on Wednesday introduced legislation that would call for sanctions against countries trying to buy such missile parts and companies willing to provide them.

With U.S.-Soviet relations improving, “the greatest threat we face (may be) the proliferation of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons,” said John McCain (R-Ariz.), a Senate backer of the bill.

The bill would require the government to suspend doing business with domestic or foreign firms that sell assembled ballistic missiles or technical guidance on building them to developing countries. In addition, it would direct the President to impose a wide range of trade sanctions against nations trying to design and build such weapons.

The legislation could lead to action against such countries as Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, Iran and India, all of which are believed to have substantial efforts under way to develop ballistic missiles.

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Through sanctions, the “chilling and horrifying prospect” of Third World regimes getting the means for a devastating attack against the United States could be lessened, McCain said.

There appears to be significant support for such a measure in Congress, despite Bush Administration opposition.

A similar amendment inserted into a House bill funding the defense budget was approved by the lopsided margin of 417 to 9.

The move for a legislative push on the issue was announced by McCain, Sen. Albert Gore Jr. (D-Tenn.) and Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Panorama City).

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The Administration has opposed legislation that would limit U.S. flexibility in responding to the weapons transfer problem.

Berman said some of the technology used on the Argentina-Iraq-Egypt Condor (missile) project was state-of-the-art U.S. Pershing (missile) technology--transferred by scientists who worked on both projects.

“This is unacceptable behavior,” Berman said. “In their greed for profits, the European companies providing this equipment and technology are courting catastrophe.”


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