JANUARY DEADLINE SET TO FORGE NEW EXPORT CONTROL ALLIANCE

JANUARY DEADLINE SET TO FORGE NEW EXPORT CONTROL ALLIANCE

A January deadline has been set for a historic allied agreement to create a new international export control organization to include Russia, a U.S. government official said.

The new group, which would be opened to other former Soviet republics, Eastern Europe and eventually China, is planned to replace the 44-year-old Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls. The Paris-based group, known as Cocom, has governed allied exports of strategic technology since the start of the Cold War.The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the pact on a successor organization is being readied for the Moscow summit meeting of Presidents Clinton and Boris N. Yeltsin in mid-January.

Officials have said previously that the yet-to-be-named group would include Russia as a charter member and would refocus worldwide export controls on weapons proliferation in the Third World and terrorist states.

The sweeping change has run parallel to discussions on expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and promises to eliminate most Western export barriers to former adversaries.

Cocom consists of all NATO members except Iceland plus Australia and Japan.

The United States is seen as the driving force behind the plan, but there are questions as to how far allies are willing to go.

John D. Steinbruner, director of foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution, is credited with urging Russia's inclusion in Cocom years ago, but even he is concerned that a "core group" of Western nations may still exclude it from full membership.

"If they're trying to continue discrimination against Russia at the same time that they're working in collaboration, it's not feasible," said Mr. Steinbruner.

Others are concerned that some U.S. allies may fight key parts of the pact.

"I don't think it will happen. I don't think the allies are going to agree to it," said Paul Freedenberg, a former Commerce Department official, now a trade consultant at the Washington law firm Baker & Botts.

Mr. Freedenberg said there are simply "too many details," especially to the plan to include munitions and other control regimes. France, for example, is likely to resist any efforts to extend controls over its foreign policy including arms sales to the Middle East, he said.

Gabriel Schoenfeld, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the new control regime would also run counter to a push within Russia to increase its arms exports, which have declined sharply since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Helmut Sonnenfeldt, former National Security Council member and a guest scholar at Brookings, said there is value in the allies' aim of promoting Russian export control, "provided it's recognized that it's not going to be airtight."