By Rose Gordon
On July 9, the Bush administration sanctioned nine Chinese entities and an Indian individual for knowingly contributing to the efforts of Iran and possibly Iraq to acquire weapons of mass destruction or advanced conventional weapons.
Effective immediately, the sanctions, levied under the 1991 Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act and the 1992 Iran-Iraq Arms Nonproliferation Act, prohibit the United States from conducting business with or providing financial or technical assistance to any of the 10 entities. The sanctions, in place for a year under the Chemical and Biological Weapons law and two years under the Iran-Iraq law, also bar the United States from providing the 10 entities with military and dual-use technology, items on the U.S. Munitions List, and certain other items requiring a government-issued export license.
These are the first entities to be sanctioned under the 10-year-old Iran-Iraq law, which applies to entities that transfer goods or technology that could assist either Iran or Iraq in acquiring “chemical, biological, nuclear, or destabilizing numbers and types of advanced conventional weapons.” The Chemical and Biological Weapons law applies to entities transferring goods or technology that could help any country or group to “acquire, use or stockpile chemical or biological weapons.”
State Department officials declined to specify which entities were transferring what types of items to which country, but in a July 19 press briefing State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that eight of the entities were being sanctioned for transfers to Iran, and two were being sanctioned for helping Iran develop chemical weapons.
As listed in the July 25 Federal Register, these Chinese companies were sanctioned under both the Iran-Iraq law and the Chemical and Biological Weapons law: Jiangsu Yongli Chemicals and Technology Import and Export Corporation, China Machinery and Equipment Import Export Corporation, China National Machinery and Equipment Import Export Corporation, CMEC Machinery and Electric Equipment Import and Export Company Ltd., CMEC Machinery and Electrical Import Export Company Ltd., China Machinery and Electric Equipment Import and Export Company, Wha Cheong Tai Company Ltd., and Chinese citizen Q. C. Chen.
Sanctioned exclusively under the Iran-Iraq law were the China Shipbuilding Trading Company and the Indian individual Hans Raj Shiv, who the State Department believes resides in the Middle East.
Chinese companies have been sanctioned three times this year for helping Iran to develop chemical or biological weapons. (See ACT, March 2002 and June 2002.)
Five of the 10 entities have been previously penalized by U.S. sanctions. Under the Iran Nonproliferation Act, which bans the transfer of equipment that could aid Iran’s “development of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons, or ballistic or cruise missile systems,” the Jiangsu Yongli Chemicals and Technology Import and Export Corporation was sanctioned in June 2001, the China Machinery and Electric Equipment Import and Export Company in January 2002, and the Wha Cheong Tai Company Ltd. and the China Shipbuilding Trading Company in May 2002. This is the fourth time Chinese citizen Q. C. Chen has been charged with violating U.S. nonproliferation laws since 1997.
If an entity is currently under previous sanctions, the new sanctions extend the time they are subject to penalty, Boucher said.
China’s Foreign Ministry expressed opposition to the U.S. decision, calling the sanctions “unreasonable,” Agence France-Presse reported July 22. China also called the sanctions levied in January and May “unreasonable.” The sanctions do not apply to the Chinese government.