CHINA MISSILE SALES
Newly released classified documents reveal China’s continued violations of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) with sales of missiles and parts to Iran, Syria and Pakistan.
A Sept. 18, 2009, State Department cable on the issue was prepared for an international meeting of the MTCR that year in Rio de Janeiro. The MTCR is an informal association of 34 states that seeks to limit exports of missiles with ranges greater than 185 miles and warheads heavier than 1,000 pounds.
Sent under Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s signature, the cable included a report on Chinese missile proliferation that on three occasions referred to a “lack of political will” by China to stop missile transfers.
“Chinese authorities and firms fail to conduct sufficient evaluations of missile-applicable transactions or to take steps to know their customers,” the report said.
Several cables, labeled “secret,” were made public on Monday by the anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks, showing Chinese violations or circumventions of the accord.
“Other firms that are aware of the vulnerabilities in China’s export-control system take steps to conceal sensitive transactions and avoid detection, including by adopting new names and falsifying shipping documentation. Additionally, some firms may take advantage of government connections to skirt Chinese regulations,” the cable said.
Among the violations were sales to Iran by China’s Dalian Sunny Industries, also known as LIMMT; sales of ballistic-missile goods to Syria; and transfers by Shanghai Technical By-Products International Corp. to Iran of ballistic-missile items.
Sanctions were imposed on two Chinese firms in 2009: LIMMT for sales of graphite, tungsten, gyroscopes and accelerometers; and Bellamax for steel alloys, gyroscopes and ball bearings.
Chinese authorities apparently do not control missile exports because of too much reliance on “foreign tips” and a reluctance to impose “catch-all” controls, the cable said.
One Chinese official was quoted as saying such controls are “not meant to catch everything.” Another Chinese official was quoted as warning U.S. officials to back off pressuring Beijing because “China’s business is its own business.”
John Tkacik, a former State Department intelligence specialist, said claims that Beijing lacked political will to halt missile proliferation is absurd.
“In fact, the Chinese government is aiding and abetting the proliferation,” he said.
Mr. Tkacik said the cables reveal that Chinese diplomats lied to U.S. Embassy officials in Beijing.
“They told the embassy that companies had been ‘closed down,’ yet our intelligence collection shows those companies continue to function unimpeded,” he said.
The report concluded that “until China addresses the persistent shortfalls in its exportcontrol enforcement, ballisticmissile programs in countries of concern probably will continue to seek and receive MTCR-controlled [. . . ] items from Chinese firms.”
A second cable from 2009 said Iran uses automotive factories as “a procurement cover for its missile programs,” something Mr. Tkacik said is highlighted by the 2007 deal between China’s Chery Automobile to set up a factory in Iran to make cars.
“Stating that commodities are intended for automobile manufacturing allows Iran a means of purchasing a variety of dual-use goods, particularly specialty metals and industrial machine tools, which could have utility in the automobile sector, but which also often are diverted to support its missile production and development efforts,” the second cable on missile trends stated.
A third cable said North Korea developed its missile industry with critically needed parts from foreign suppliers, “most-commonly China-based, given their proximity and access to technology that would be beneficial to North Korea’s missile program.”
China has been violating the MTCR for decades and first sold DF-11 short-range missiles to Pakistan, while claiming it fol- lowed MTCR guidelines. The DF-11 sales were covered up by U.S. intelligence agencies during the Clinton administration to prevent the imposition of sanctions under U.S. law. CIA armsproliferation analyst Gordon Oehler exposed the cover-up after he was forced into retirement for refusing to go along.