Tuesday, January 18, 2005

US punishing 8 Chinese firms for aiding Iran-NYT

NEW YORK, Jan. 18 — The Bush administration imposed penalties this month against some of China's largest companies for aiding Iran's efforts to improve its ballistic missiles, The New York Times reported Monday.

The action is part of an effort by the White House and American intelligence agencies to identify and slow important elements of Iran's weapons programs, the newspaper said.

The White House made no public announcement of the penalties, and the State Department placed a one-page notice on page 133 of the Federal Register early this month listing eight Chinese companies affected. The notice kept classified the nature of the technology they had exported, the newspaper said on its Web site.

The penalties bar the companies from doing business with the U.S. government, and prevent them from obtaining export licenses allowing them to buy controlled technologies from American companies. U.S. officials said the exports to Iran included high performance metals and other banned components, the Times said.

Since the Federal Register announcement, the penalties have been noted on some Web sites that concentrate on China and proliferation issues, according to the paper.

President Bush has praised China for its help in seeking a diplomatic end to the North Korean nuclear standoff.

The newspaper said some officials in the administration speculated in the past week that the decision not to publicize the penalties might have been part of an effort not to jeopardize Chinese cooperation at a critical moment in the administration's effort to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table.

The newspaper said two of the largest companies cited in the State Department's list, China Great Wall Industry Corp. and China North Industry Corp., known as Norinco, have been repeatedly penalized for more than a decade; each is closely linked to the Chinese military.

A third company on the penalties list, the China Aero-Technology Import and Export Corp., or Catic, is one of the country's largest producers of military aircraft. The other five companies were not listed in the article.

Posted by Texas Gal