"[The Arms Control Association is an] 'exceptional organization that effectively addresses pressing national and international challenges with an impact that is disproportionate to its small size.'" 

– John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
January 19, 2011
North Korea, Pakistani Lab Sanctioned for Proliferation

Rose Gordon

On March 24, the United States imposed sanctions on a North Korean company and a Pakistani laboratory for a related missile technology transfer.

The Changgwang Sinyong Corporation of North Korea was sanctioned for transferring Category 1 items regulated under the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) to Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) in Pakistan, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said March 31. The laboratory was sanctioned for receiving the items. Category 1 items include complete missile systems or unmanned air vehicle systems that exceed MTCR range limits.

Although some early media reports suggested that the trade involved nuclear technology, the State Department quickly dismissed such claims. Philip Reeker, deputy State Department spokesman, said April 1 that, after a careful review, the administration had determined that sanctions could be imposed only for a “missile-related transfer” and not the transfer of nuclear technology from Pakistan to North Korea.

The company and laboratory are now under two-year sanctions, which prohibit the U.S. government or U.S. companies from exporting goods to or importing items from the sanctioned entities.

The laboratory was sanctioned under Executive Order 12938, and the Changgwang Sinyong Corporation under the Arms Export Control Act and the Export Administration Act. The Arms Export Control Act closely follows regulations established in the MTCR, while the Export Administration Act goes slightly beyond the MTCR in the number and types of dual-use items it regulates. President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 12938 in 1994 as an additional way to levy sanctions for weapons of mass destruction proliferation.

Khan Research Laboratories—named for A. Q. Khan, who helped found Pakistan’s nuclear development program—is Pakistan’s primary nuclear weapons laboratory. It has been sanctioned in the past for similar missile-related transfers from the same North Korean company, Reeker said in his April 1 statement. The laboratory has been listed as an entity of proliferation concern in the Export Administration Regulations since 1998.

The North Korean corporation has been sanctioned repeatedly by the United States, most recently in August 2002. (See ACT, September 2002.)

The Bush administration extended the sanctions to the North Korean government, which is currently locked in a nuclear crisis with the United States. The sanctions on the Khan Laboratory, however, do not apply to the Pakistani government. The laboratory is considered separate from the government of President General Pervez Musharraf, who is currently a key U.S. ally in the war on terrorism.

The Pakistani government has repeatedly stated that their missile program is indigenous, but most weapons experts say that Pakistani missiles are largely based on Chinese and North Korean technology. For example, Pakistan’s long-range Ghauri missile appears to be based on North Korea’s Nodong missile, and the Shaheen I resembles China’s M-9.

A spokesman for Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the sanctions against the laboratory “unjustified” in a March 29 press release. In a press briefing two days later, a spokesman for Pakistan’s Foreign Office said the sanctions would not have an effect on the laboratory because “it has no commercial links with any firms in the United States.”

The sanctions on the North Korean company are also viewed as largely symbolic because it is U.S. policy—under the Arms Control Export Act and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations—to deny imports or exports of defense-related material to North Korea, regardless of these new restrictions.