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Is the Soviet pipeline project being built on the backs of forced labor?

It may be. Sen. William Armstrong (R) of Colorado is calling for a State Department investigation into charges that the Soviets are using forced labor on the project. In Senate testimony, a former Vietnamese Communist official said Vietnamese in ''re-education camps'' have been sent to the USSR in ''payment'' for massive war debts. The International Sakharov Committee, named after Soviet dissident and nuclear physicist Andrei Sakharov, has identified by name several Soviet dissidents it claims are being forced to work on the pipeline.

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So far, the White House hasn't used human rights as a major argument against the project. But this may change if more evidence is uncovered.

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