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China and Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Missiles: Policy Issues

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Congressional rept.

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Congress has long been concerned about whether U.S. policy advances the national interest in reducing the role of the Peoples Republic of China PRC in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction WMD and the missiles that could deliver them. Recipients of Chinas technology include Pakistan and countries that the State Department says support terrorism, such as Iran, North Korea, and Libya. This CRS Report discusses the national security problem of Chinas role in weapons proliferation and issues related to the U.S. policy response, including legislation, since the mid-1990s. Since 1991, China has taken steps to mollify U.S. concerns about its role in weapons proliferation. But the Director of Central Intelligence reports that China remains a key supplier of weapons technology. On Nov 21, 2000, the Clinton Administration agreed to waive missile proliferation sanctions, resume processing licenses to export satellites to China, and discuss an extension of the bilateral space launch agreement, in return for another promise from China on missile nonproliferation. However, PRC proliferation activities again raised questions about sanctions. On 10 occasions, the Bush Administration has imposed sanctions on PRC entities for transfers missiles, chemical weapons to Pakistan and Iran. Among those sanctions, on Sep 1, 2001, the Administration imposed missile proliferation sanctions that effectively denied satellite exports for 2 years, after a PRC company transferred technology to Pakistan. On Sep 19, 2003, the State Department imposed more missile proliferation sanctions on NORINCO, a defense industrial firm, denying satellite exports to China for 2 more years, while waiving for 1 year the import ban on other PRC government products. Critics say that President Bush has not forcefully pressed Chinas leaders on weapons nonproliferation as a priority issue. A table summarizes the U.S. sanctions imposed on PRC entities for weapons proliferation.

Subject Categories:

  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Government and Political Science
  • Chemical, Biological and Radiological Warfare
  • Nuclear Weapons

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