On Dec. 1, the United States sanctioned four Chinese entities and one North Korean company for allegedly shipping exports to Iran that could contribute to Tehran’s suspected development of unconventional weapons.
Levied under the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000, the penalties will bar the sanctioned entities from receiving U.S. government contracts, aid, and arms sales until Nov. 24, 2006. Although entities sanctioned by Washington rarely do business with the U.S. government, U.S. policymakers hope their punishment brands the accused in the eyes of the world as entities to be shunned.
Three of the entities are repeat offenders. Most notoriously, North Korea’s Changgwang Sinyong Corp. has been sanctioned nine times over the past four years. However, two of the Chinese companies, Liaoning Jiayi Metals and Minerals Company, Ltd. and Shanghai Triple International, Ltd., had not been previously penalized by the Bush administration, which has now lowered the sanctions boom more than 100 times. The Clinton administration imposed 70 proliferation sanctions over eight years.
As it normally does, Beijing objected to the U.S. sanctions. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhang Qiyue asserted Dec. 2 that China abides by its nonproliferation commitments and has its own laws to punish entities guilty of any wrongdoing. “We hope the U.S. can bear in mind our international cooperation on nonproliferation and other fields and not resort to arbitrary sanctions on Chinese companies,” Zhang said.
Although China is generally recognized as making progress over the past decade in tightening its export controls and reforming its proliferation behavior, many countries, including the United States, still see room for improvement. For instance, China’s spotty record on controlling missile proliferation sank its recent effort to join the Missile Technology Control Regime, whose 34 members pledge to restrict their missile exports. (See ACT, November 2004.)