Senate Probes Alleged Gore-Russia Deal on Iranian Weapons

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:26 PM EDT

( - The alleged secret deals in which Vice President Al Gore agreed not to impose sanctions against Russia, even while Russian Prime Minister Victor Chernomyrdin was selling weapons to Iran, may have broken US law and endangered the security of the US and its allies, according to Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) who will convene a hearing on the issue Wednesday on Capitol Hill.

"The Gore-Chernomyrdin agreement [in 1995] contains an explicit commitment by the vice president to ignore several US laws governing how the United States is to respond to trade in weaponry with Iran by any foreign nation," Brownback said at a recent news conference. "The [Gore-Chernomyrdin] agreement specifically commits the United States to avoid any penalties to Russia that might otherwise arise under domestic law."

Brownback chairs the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs. The panel will conduct a joint hearing with the Subcommittee on European Affairs. Republican Congressional leaders believe, among other things, that Gore and Chernomyrdin decided to leave Congress in the dark about Russia's plan to build a nuclear reactor for Iran.

"Let me be clear," Brownback said, "without an explicit act of Congress, the vice president did not have the power or authority to commit the United States to ignore US law. Among the statutes the vice president agreed to violate was his own non-proliferation law, enacted in 1992, the so-called 'Gore-McCain' act."

Gore's spokesman, Jim Kennedy, said in a statement that Gore never signed the agreement with Chernomyrdin to violate nuclear non-proliferation rules and accused Republicans of using the issue for election-year politics.

According to Kennedy, "despite reported requests in the letter to keep the information secret, it has no effect on the White House's determination to keep the Hill fully informed on this matter."

Iran is categorized by the State Department as a sponsor of terrorism. Countries that transfer arms to Iran violate the 1992 Iran-Iraq Arms Non-Proliferation Act that was written by Gore and Senator John McCain (R-AZ). The law calls for sanctions on countries that violate the act.

The New York Times reported earlier this month that Gore agreed that the Clinton Administration would turn a blind eye to Russia's violation of the US non-proliferation laws dealing with conventional weapons.

Shortly after the New York Times story appeared, the Washington Times reported that Russia also has been delivering nuclear technology to Iran in violation of the US non-proliferation law involving nuclear weapons.

Chernomyrdin and Gore apparently made a separate agreement for the US to ignore those violations, according to the Washington Times, which also reported that the deals were supposed to last only until 1999, but that, in fact, Russia is still transferring arms to Iran.

Brownback concluded, "The time has come for Vice President Gore to come clean with the American people."