U.S. says PRC, N. Korea firms aid Iran arms


WASHINGTON, Reuters

The Bush administration said on Wednesday it had imposed sanctions against mainland Chinese and North Korean companies for allegedly helping Iran in violation of international pacts aimed at curbing the spread of deadly weapons.

The offending action by mainland China’s Jiangsu Yongli Chemicals and Technology Import and Export Corp. took place last year and involved “technical assistance controlled under a multilateral regime,” State Department spokeswoman Susan Pittman said.

The department would not specify which international pact was at issue in the case of mainland China nor give details of the alleged transfer. Congressional aides said they had deduced it fell under the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Penalties were imposed against the North Korean company, Changgwang Sinyong Corp.,”for the transfer to Iran of equipment and technology controlled under the Missile Technology Control Regime,” Pittman said, referring to an accord designed to head off the spread of missiles.

Pittman could not say why the administration was identifying the alleged North Korean violation more precisely than that blamed on the mainland Chinese company. She said she had no information on any possible link between the alleged mainland Chinese and North Korean actions.

Former President Bill Clinton imposed sanctions against the same two companies. The Chinese company was penalized in May 1997 for allegedly transferring chemical weapons components to Iran. In January, Clinton acted against the North Korean company for allegedly exporting missile-related technology to Iran.

Under the sanctions, the Bush administration suspended licenses for U.S. companies involved in any regulated trade with the mainland Chinese and North Korean firms. No licenses would be issued for two years from the June 14 effective date, a State Department notice in the Federal Register said.