Senator: 'Law Clearly Has Been Broken' in Gore-Russia Dealings

Sharon Kehnemui   Fox News

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WASHINGTON — Sens. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., and Sam Brownback, R-Kan., said the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday to investigate a secret agreement between Al Gore and former Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin.

In the deal, penned in 1995 and reported by The New York Times last Friday, Gore agreed that the administration would turn a blind eye to Russia's violation of U.S. non-proliferation laws in its arms deals to Iran.

"Clearly this was a case where there was controlling legal authority," Smith said, referring to a term used by Gore in defense of questionable fund-raising calls made from his White House office. "We are concerned that it may not have been observed."

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 written by Gore and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. The law calls for sanctions on countries that violate it.

Russia also has been delivering nuclear technology to Iran in violation of the United States' nuclear non-proliferation law, according to a story in The Washington Times earlier this week. Chernomyrdin and Gore apparently made a separate agreement for the U.S. to ignore those violations. The deals were supposed to last until 1999, but Russia is still transferring arms to Iran.

Gore spokesman Jim Kennedy told Fox News on Tuesday that Gore never signed the agreement with Chernomyrdin to violate nuclear non-proliferation rules and Republicans are using the issue for election year politics. He added that "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."

Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., said that a committee review of sanctions imposed by the United States revealed "not one instance since the 1995 secret deal that the administration imposed sanctions on Russia for its arms sales to Iran. They did not sanction Russia."

Brownback also complained that Congress, as stipulated in the agreement, was deliberately kept in the dark about the deal.

"This withholding of information from Congress may itself be a violation of U.S. law," Brownback said, citing another law requiring all agreements with foreign nations to be submitted to Congress within 60 days.

"This law was specifically enacted in order to protect American democracy by holding the president and his people accountable for their international agreements, but that law clearly has been broken," Brownback said.

Brownback said the president has failed to submit two reports required under law to be filed with Congress on proliferation of weapons to Iran.

"Those reports were due on June 12 and Sept. 14 of this year," Brownback said. "They clearly would have contained evidence of arms transfers from Russia to Iran. I would like to know where those reports are. What is the administration afraid of sharing?"

Smith said the committee will invite Gore and other administration officials to testify at the hearing.