WASHINGTON (Jan. 24)
The Bush administration would require a “strong consensus” of support before it would consider a waiver of Jackson-Vanik Amendment penalties against the Soviet Union, the State Department said Tuesday.
“The waiver of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment in the Soviet case would require a strong consensus among the American public, Congress and the executive branch,” State Department spokesman Charles Redman said.
He added that it would also require that “recent progress on emigration from the Soviet Union would be sustained.”
The 1974 Jackson-Vanik Amendment links most-favored-nation trade status for the Soviet Union with increased emigration. The president can issue a waiver to the USSR if he determines that emigration has reached a substantial level.
While substantial has never been officially defined, there is a feeling within the Jewish community that emigration figures would have to reach the high point of 51,320 achieved in 1979 for a waiver to be justified.
The number of Jewish emigrants totaled nearly 19,000 in 1988 and is expected to be double that this year.
Redman said his remarks were aimed at disputing reports that efforts are being made to get Jewish support for a waiver of the amendment in return for Soviet agreement to direct flights for Soviet Jews to Israel.
“Jackson-Vanik has nothing to do with the destination of such emigrants,” Redman said. “The U.S. government has consistently held that all Jews and all others emigrating from the Soviet Union should have freedom of choice as to their destination.”