WASHINGTON — President Clinton signed a bill Tuesday that would stop putting American money into the International Space Station if Russian firms were found to have helped Iran develop nuclear weapons.
Clinton said he signed the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000 because it was "less problematic" than an earlier version that he felt would harm global efforts to block Iran's nuclear weapons programs. In 1998, he vetoed a stronger sanctions bill.
"I want to make it clear that Russia continues to be a valued partner in the International Space Station," Clinton said.
The legislation bars "extraordinary payments" to Russia's space agency for the space station unless the United States confirms that Russia has not transferred missile technology or nuclear, chemical or biological weapons to Iran during the previous year. The Clinton administration had proposed paying $650 million beyond the original amount pledged for Russia's space station.
The bill also demands biannual reports to Congress identifying those who transfer to Iran "goods, services or technology" for nuclear weapons and gives the president the authority to deny export licenses, government procurement and foreign assistance to those entities.
Clinton said the United States has taken administrative action against 10 Russian companies for transferring weapons materiel and technology to Iran "and stand[s] ready to apply [it] again whenever necessary."
The president signed the nonproliferation bill a day after he extended punitive sanctions against Iran for another year.
In a letter to Congress, Clinton said he extended the sanctions because Iran's support of terrorism, efforts to develop destructive weapons and attempts to undermine the Middle East peace process "continue to threaten the national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States."