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NEWS & COMMENTARY 2008 SPEAKERS 2007 2006 2005

Saturday, September 16, 2006

US suspects China developing biological, chemical weapons

The United States has said it suspects China is developing "sophisticated" biological and chemical weapons and expressed concern over Beijing's commitment towards non-proliferation.

"We remain disappointed in the continuing proliferant behavior of certain Chinese entities, and we remain deeply concerned about the Chinese government's commitment towards its nonproliferation obligations," said Paula DeSutter, the Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance and Implementation.

Testifying before the US-China Economic Security Review Commission, a Congress-sanctioned panel, DeSutter said Chinese involvement in biological weapons went against international laws.

China is a party to the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention.

"We maintain reservations about China's current research activities and dual-use capabilities, which raise the possibility that sophisticated BW (biological weapons) and CW (chemical weapons) work could be underway," she said.

Dual-use technology is regarded as those which has potential to be used for hostile or peaceful purposes or both.

DeSutter, the State Department's top official for assessing and verifying compliance with arms control and nonproliferation pacts, cited what she called "the possible offensive capabilities of aerosolization techniques" and said US concerns were underscored by publications indicating Chinese military involvement in such research.

"We also continue to believe that China maintains some elements of an offensive BW capability in violation of its BWC (Biological Weapons Convention) obligations," she said.

Despite Chinas confidence building measure declarations under the Biological Weapons Convention, she said there were indications that China maintained an offensive biological weapons program prior to acceding to the international law in 1984.

"In addition, the United States believes that China maintains a CW production mobilization capability, although we simply do not have enough information to determine whether China maintains an active offensive CW research and development program," she said.

The United States remains worried that Chinese entities were transferring export-controlled items and technology to "countries of concern," she said.

Peter Rodman, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for international security affairs, said that in addition to considerable conventional weapons transfers, Washington had long been concerned about Chinas assistance to Iran's "sensitive" ballistic missiles, nuclear and chemical programs.

"Likewise, we remain concerned that Chinese entities have helped Iran move toward its goal of self-sufficiency in the production of ballistic missiles," he said.

The United States suspects Iran is trying to develop a nuclear bomb and has led an international effort to haul it before the UN Security Council.

Rodman said "the time is right" for China to review its links with Tehran and the nuclear-armed North Korean regime.

"Continued proliferation to countries such as Iran and North Korea is a source of regional instability," he said.

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