China breaks vow on halting arms transfers

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A Chinese company recently supplied missile-related technology to Iran in violation of Beijing’s promises to curb arms-proliferation activities, U.S. intelligence officials say.

The transfers took place within the past six months and represent a continuation of past Chinese covert arms transfers to countries such as Iran and Pakistan.

No details of the missile technology or the companies involved were disclosed by the officials. However, the activities were confirmed by U.S. intelligence agencies, said officials familiar with intelligence reports.

China could face sanctions under U.S. laws against arms proliferation, as has occurred four times in the recent past, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

One U.S. official familiar with reports of the missile-related transfer said it was detected several weeks ago. “It is a matter of concern,” the official said.

The missile-related transfers, which in the past have included materials used in making missile shells and missile-guidance systems, took place after China’s government issued a report in December pledging not to transfer weapons of mass destruction and missile-delivery systems.

Asked about the latest reported transfers of missile goods from China to Iran, Chinese Embassy spokesman Sun Weide had no comment.

Mr. Sun said the Chinese government has adopted a responsible attitude toward arms transfers. “China’s government is firmly opposed to the proliferation of [weapons of mass destruction] and their means of delivery,” he said.

A report by the congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission made public in June stated that continued Chinese missile and nuclear cooperation with Iran “is extremely troubling.”

“Chinese entities continue to assist Iran with dual-use missile-related items, raw materials and chemical weapons-related production equipment and technology,” the report said, quoting a recent CIA report.

Caroline Bartholomew, a commission member, told a House Armed Services Committee hearing in June that the report “provides ample documentation of why we continue to distrust the government of the People’s Republic of China.”

“The Chinese government pattern of promises made and promises broken on trade issues, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction technology and on human rights and basic freedoms continues,” she said.

“Despite claims that China is helping to halt the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and related technology, numerous examples of such proliferation from China continue,” she said.

Miss Bartholomew also said there are reports that North Korea has used Chinese facilities for transshipping weapons exports to third countries.

The U.S. report includes a chart showing Chinese companies have sold CSS-8 and DF-15 ballistic missiles to Iran, along with cruise missiles identified as HY-1, HY-2 Silkworm, C-201, C-601, C-801 and C-802.

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