- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 28, 2001

The State Department has imposed sanctions on companies in China and North Korea for selling chemical-weapons materials and missile engines to Iran.
State Department officials yesterday told The Washington Times that sales to Iran by China's Jiangsu Yongli Chemicals and Technology Import and Export Corp. and by North Korea's Changgwang Sinyong Corp. triggered a provision of a 2000 law on weapons shipments to Iran.
Both companies had previously been sanctioned by the United States for weapons sales.
A State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the action shows the administration will follow U.S. laws aimed at curbing the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological arms, and missile-delivery systems.
"It is an indication the administration is prepared to implement our sanctions law," the official said.
The sanctions bar any U.S. government agency from doing business with the companies or providing assistance to them.
"We did what was required under the law," the State Department spokesman said. "The sanctions will last for two years."
Officials said the sanctions are largely symbolic since the U.S. government does not do business with the companies in question.
The department had made no public announcement of the sanctions, which appeared Tuesday in the Federal Register, the official outlet for U.S. government announcement of the imposition of sanctions.
It is the first time the Bush administration has imposed economic sanctions for weapons-related transfers. Some administration officials, including Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, have questioned the use of sanctions as a foreign-policy tool.
The State Department official said the Chinese company was sanctioned in 1997 for helping build a facility for manufacturing dual-use equipment that can make chemical arms. "Recently, we observed some more recent behavior [by the company] that enabled the Iranians to get this plant up and running," the official said.
The North Korean company was sanctioned for its role in providing Iran with missile engines. The sales triggered a U.S. law that calls for sanctions on sales that violate the provisions of the multination Missile Technology Control Regime.
U.S. intelligence officials disclosed to The Times last year that North Korea sold 12 missile engines to Iran in November 1999. The engines were believed to be for Iran's new Shahab medium-range missiles.
The Chinese company, located in Nanjing, produces a variety of chemicals and related equipment, including pipes and pumps, that have applications for building chemical weapons, U.S. officials said. In 1997, it criticized the earlier U.S. sanctions as based on "groundless" charges.
The Changgwang Sinyong company was slapped with U.S. economic sanctions in April 2000 for selling missile technology to Syria. It was also sanctioned in January for other missile sales.
The Iran Nonproliferation Act calls for sanctions on companies or governments that sell goods that can be used for Iran's weapons of mass destruction or missile programs.
The law, sponsored by Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman, New York Republican, requires the president to report to Congress regularly on weapons and related sales to Iran that would be banned under U.S. law.
It was targeted at Russian firms that helped Iran's missile programs. But the legislation also covers sales of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons-related materials that would boost Iran's capability to build such arms.
China and North Korea are considered by the U.S. intelligence agencies that track weapons sales to be among the most aggressive suppliers of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and missile goods and technology to developing nations.
China has been sanctioned by the U.S. government in the past for its arms sales. A CIA intelligence report in 1996 stated that a Chinese firm shipped 400 metric tons of chemicals used in producing nerve gas to an Iranian chemical-arms center.
China also helped Iran during the late 1990s to build a factory that produces special glass-lined equipment — a key element in manufacturing chemical weapons.
China is a member of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which obligates Beijing not to assist any country in developing chemical arms. But a Senate Foreign Relations Committee report in September stated that China "consistently fails to adhere to its nonproliferation commitments."
A CIA report to Congress made public in February stated that Iran in the first half of 2000 "continued to seek production technology, training, expertise, equipment, and chemicals that could be used as precursor agents in its chemical warfare (CW) program from entities in Russia and China."
The report said Iran has stockpiled "several thousand tons" of chemical arms, including blood, blister and choking agents.
U.S. officials believe Iran plans to use chemical weapons in warheads for missiles it is developing, including a new medium-range Shahab missile that has been tested several times in the past two years.

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