Thursday, July 3, 2003

The Bush administration announced yesterday it has imposed economic sanctions on Chinese and North Korean companies for selling chemical-, biological- and nuclear-arms material and missile goods to Iran.

New sanctions were imposed on one Chinese firm and sanctions were extended on five others in China and North Korea pursuant to the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters.

The act mandates sanctions on companies that sell goods or technology that can make a “material contribution” to Iran’s weapons of mass destruction programs or ballistic- or cruise-missile programs.

The sanctions ban the companies from any dealings with the U.S. government and prohibit the companies from buying U.S. goods requiring export licenses, which are required for goods that have both civilian and military purposes. Details of the sales were not made public.

A State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the sanctions were punishment for selling chemicals, equipment and technology in all categories of Iran’s unconventional weapons, including chemical arms, nuclear weapons, biological weapons and missiles.

“There were very serious transfers in every category,” the official said, noting that the goods involved were mostly chemicals and equipment.

The transfers took place in the first half of 2002 and sanctions were not imposed until after a lengthy debate among U.S. national security agencies, the official said.

Several additional proliferation violations were not publicized because of concerns that the information would tip off the violators, the official said.

“A number of very serious transfers were not made public,” the official said.

Iran is believed to have active programs for chemical, nuclear and biological weapons and has missiles of various ranges.

Russian companies, which have been involved in helping Iran’s nuclear program, were not mentioned in the latest Iran sanctions.

The official said that China’s government has taken steps in recent months to “rein in” companies that have been selling weapons material to rogue states such as Iran.

“We’ve seen some positive signs,” the official said. “We’ve seen some transfers that they’ve stopped.”

The Bush administration has taken a much more aggressive stance on weapons transfers.

Since 2001, sanctions have been imposed 60 times: eight times in 2001, 34 times in 2002 and 18 times this year. By comparison, sanctions were imposed on arms dealers a total of 77 times from 1993 to 2000.

The new sanctions were imposed on the Taian Foreign Trade General Corp. in China.

Sanctions were extended for four other Chinese firms, the Zibo Chemical Equipment Plant, also known as Chemet Global Ltd.; South Industries Science and Technology Trading Co. Ltd.; Liyang Yunlong Chemical Equipment Group Co.; China North Industries Corp. (NORINCO); and China Precision Machinery Import/Export Corp. (CPMIEC).

NORINCO was sanctioned by the administration on May 22 for its role in selling Iran a specialty metal used in building missiles.

CPMIEC also has been sanctioned in the past for selling missile technology and goods to Pakistan.

A North Korean company, Changgwang Sinyong Corp., also had its proliferation sanctions extended. That company is North Korea’s main missile exporter, and has been penalized for selling missiles to Pakistan in the past.

The five companies had been slapped earlier with sanctions for arms sales to Iran or Pakistan that violated U.S. laws aimed at stemming the spread of dangerous weapons.

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