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U.S. Says No Jackson-vanik Waiver Until the Soviets Implement Reforms

July 19, 1989
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Bush administration has given new assurances that it will not lift trade sanctions against the Soviets until they “codify their emigration law in accordance with international standards and implement their new law faithfully.”

Only then will President Bush be “ready to work with Congress on a temporary waiver” of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, Secretary of State James Baker pledged in a July 5 letter to Shoshana Cardin, chairwoman of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry.

The letter is the most explicit statement that the Bush administration has made so far on the 14-year-old amendment, which denies most-favored-nation trade status to the Soviets until they substantially increase emigration of Jews and other minority groups seeking to leave.

Bush had made similar statements in two previous public appearances, but the letter is the first instance of the administration committing the ideas to paper.

Bush’s statements, wrote Baker, “constitute the administration’s position.”

As Baker notes in his letter, the administration’s policy is closely aligned with that of the NCSJ, an umbrella organization of Soviet Jewry advocacy groups.


It refers to a June 13 meeting of the NCSJ Board of Governors, in which the organization voted to support a Jackson-Vanik waiver if the president received “appropriate assurances” that the Soviets have met four conditions.

To meet those conditions, the Soviets would have to work to sustain appropriate levels of emigration, set limits on who could be denied emigration on the grounds of having access to “state secrets,” resolve the problem of relatives blocking people from emigrating and demonstrate progress on the cases of long-term refuseniks.

To these Baker adds a stipulation that the Soviets act to implement the commitments it made as a signatory to the concluding document of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, the so-called Helsinki human rights accords.

“I appreciate in full measure the gravity and moment of the deliberations that produced the conference’s stance on the Jackson-Vanik waiver, and the mixture of hope and action which it embodies,” wrote Baker.

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