Iran, DPRK Sanctioned for Missile Transfers

According to an April 14 announcement, the Clinton administration has imposed sanctions on four firms in Iran and one in North Korea for "missile technology proliferation activities." The targeted firms are Changgwang Sinyong Corporation in North Korea; and the Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics, Aerospace Industries Organization, Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, and Sanam Industrial Group, all in Iran.

While State Department officials would not identify the exact nature of the transfers, spokesman James Rubin said that they involved Category I items as defined by the Missile Technology Control Regime. Category I items include complete rocket systems that exceed range and payload guidelines of 300 kilometers and 500 kilograms, production facilities for such systems, individual rocket stages, re-entry vehicles and related technologies, certain types of rocket engines, and advanced guidance systems.

Rubin also implied a connection between the North Korean and Iranian firms. Iran has a long history of receiving missile technology assistance from North Korea, first receiving Scud-type missiles during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. In his April 14 remarks, Rubin reiterated continuing U.S. concerns about North Korea's export of Scud missiles, which are the basis for its Nodong short-range ballistic missile. Citing U.S. intelligence sources, The Washington Times reported in February that North Korea had transferred several Nodong rocket engines to Iran last November.

The five firms will be denied U.S. government contracts, export licenses for certain controlled items, and the ability to sell any products in the U.S. market for two years. The sanctions' economic impact will be limited, however, as the U.S. government currently does no business with any of the targeted organizations.

The official Korean Central News Agency responded vehemently to the sanctions April 19, noting, "We cannot but take a serious view of this as it is a virulent challenge to the process for the normalization of the D.P.R.K.-U.S. relations." Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Assefi denied any cooperation with the North Koreans. "Our missile program is made locally without any foreign assistance," he said in a statement on Tehran radio April 16.