Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Chinese Concerned About Nuclear Proliferation

The BBC and others are reporting that the US is punishing Chinese firms for selling nuclear technology to Iran.

The penalties, which will remain in place for two years, include a ban on trading with, and receiving assistance from, the US government.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman dismissed the move, saying the "wanton launch of sanctions...without real evidence is not a wise choice".

A company from Taiwan and one from North Korea are also affected.

Iran has denied US accusations that it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons, insisting that its nuclear plans are for peaceful energy purposes.

Two of the largest Chinese companies named by the US, China North Industry Corporation (Norinco) and China Great Wall Industry, have been repeatedly penalised for violating various export controls. Both have close ties to the Chinese army.

The firms are being punished under the 2000 Iran Non-Proliferation Act, signed into law by then President Bill Clinton.

The article hits on two points that immediately came to mind when I saw the headline. First, it is very difficult to seperate firms that sell military technology and the military who owns/controls them. Second, this is a problem that has predated Bush. Clinton, the president who was loved internationally, wrangled with many of these same issues during his time in office.