Chinese arms shipment to result in U.S. sanctions Missile parts sent to Pakistan

August 25, 1993|By Mark Matthews | Mark Matthews,Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- The Clinton administration will halt technology transactions with China worth several hundred million dollars to punish Beijing for shipping M-11 missile parts to Pakistan, officials said yesterday.

The sanctions, which may be announced as early as today, would be the toughest imposed on China at least since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

China has not signed the Missile Technology Control Regime, aimed at preventing the spread of missiles to developing countries, but it pledged to former Secretary of State James A. Baker III that it would abide by the terms of the agreement.

Now, U.S. intelligence services have concluded that China continued to supply Pakistan with parts for the M-11 missile, triggering penalties required under U.S. law that apply to transfer of missiles with a range of more than 300 kilometers (180 miles).

The decision to endorse the findings and follow through with penalties was made by Lynn E. Davis, undersecretary of state for international security affairs, administration officials said.

Besides breaking a pledge to the United States, the Chinese shipments are seen as potentially fueling the long-standing India-Pakistan conflict.

The U.S. decision follows an agreement between the United States and Russia, following weeks of negotiation, under which Russia halted sales of rocket engine technology to India.

The Clinton administration, which sets nonproliferation as a key element of its national security policy, has been confronted with mounting reports of sensitive technology and weapons transfers involving Russia, China and North Korea, as well as recipients in the Middle East and Asian subcontinent.

The sanctions to be imposed bar government contracts and licenses to trade with Chinese government agencies involved in space technology.

They also bar Chinese purchase of items produced outside the United States containing U.S. components.

It will affect commercial transactions in the satellite technology field worth "several hundred million dollars," a senior official said.

Arms-control experts say that for sanctions to be effective, they must be severe enough to outweigh Chinese profits from the missile trade.

The Bush administration lifted an earlier round of sanctions after the Chinese pledge to Mr. Baker in 1991.

A debate has raged within and outside the government over how much of China's export of weapons technology is actually approved by high officials in Beijing and how much stems from lower-level market zeal.

But officials believe China has been given ample time to track down the offenders and change its behavior after being pressed on the issue.

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