Wed, Feb 09, 2005 - Page 1 News List

US lashes China over arms deals with `rogue states'

AP , WASHINGTON

The Bush administration lashed out at China before an international audience on Monday for not stopping its munitions companies from selling missile technology to Iran and other "rogue states."

Speaking to a conference in Tokyo sponsored by Japan, US Undersecretary of State John Bolton said Washington would move aggressively to suspend business with companies that provide sensitive weapons technology to Iran and other countries trying to build weapons of mass destruction.

The speech by the administration's top arms-control official appears to mark a shift in tactics. Sanctions normally have been applied quietly against offending firms. Bolton's forceful public talk about meting out punishment held the Chinese government directly accountable.

Bolton also renewed the administration's opposition to plans by European nations to resume arms sales to China by ending an embargo imposed after China's bloody 1989 attack at Tiananmen Square.

"The embargo on arms sales to China is not outmoded," Bolton said. "It is just as important to champion human rights today as it was in 1989."

A second reason to maintain the embargo, Bolton said, is to protect Japan and other East Asian countries and not permit China to "significantly improve its coercive capability" against Taiwan.

Chinese companies were blamed for providing ballistic missile technology to Iran, Pakistan, North Korea and Libya, and the problem was continuing.

For example, Bolton said, the Bush administration had alerted the Chinese government for some time to problems involving activities of the China North Industries Corp. And yet, he said, "We are not aware that the Chinese government has taken any action to halt [the firm's] proliferant behavior."

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