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China-Iran ties

President Bush this week sought help from Chinese President Hu Jintao to help resolve Iran’s defiance in its nuclear program, which the Bush administration thinks is moving toward nuclear weapons in the next few years.

What is being played down by U.S. officials who are seeking closer ties with China is the fact that China has been directly involved in Iran’s nuclear and missile programs for more than a decade. National security officials tell us the effort to enlist Beijing’s support on Iran is like Samuel Johnson’s quip about a second marriage: the triumph of hope over experience.

Classified U.S. intelligence reports dating from the early 1990s reveal that Beijing has been covertly backing Iranian nuclear efforts, as it did in Pakistan, with training and equipment.

One October 1991 report disclosed that the state-run China Nuclear Energy Industry Corp. was working with Iran’s government to supply nuclear technology for a reactor facility being planned in western Iran.

A top-secret U.S. intelligence report from April 1996 revealed that a Chinese delegation of technicians traveled to Iran to take part in building a uranium enrichment facility at Isfahan. The report said: “The plant will produce uranium products that Iran can use to make fissile material for nuclear weapons.” The technicians were the advance team who were planning construction of several nuclear-related plants. A month earlier, in March 1996, a group of Iranian nuclear technicians traveled to China to study technical documents for the nuclear construction.

Then in January 1999, the Pentagon’s Joint Staff produced a classified intelligence report that revealed new details of how China was supplying Iran with materials and equipment for Tehran’s nuclear and missile programs. The same month, the CIA revealed that China had concluded a deal to sell Iran special materials used in making nuclear fuel rods. In March 1999, a group of Iranian technicians were sent to Beijing University for training in missile guidance and development. That year, China also supplied the Iranians with advanced C-801 anti-ship cruise missiles.

By early December 1999, the National Security Agency reported that technicians from China and Pakistan were working at the Iranian underground nuclear laboratory at Isfahan. The site had not been declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency until 2003.

China was not the only nuclear supplier. Russia and North Korea also were helping the Iranian nuclear and missile programs.

Details of Chinese covert support were first reported in this newspaper and in Bill Gertz’s 2004 book: “Treachery: How America’s Friends and Foes Are Secretly Arming Our Enemies.”

Harassment month

The Naval Academy women’s crew officer representative sent a memo to staff and faculty yesterday listing events for the school’s observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The topic has become particularly touchy in Annapolis in the wake of several rape charges against school athletes.

A number of anti-sexual harassment events are planned:

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