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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Sanctions imposed on Iran, Syria arms suppliers

By Bill Gertz

The Bush administration is imposing economic sanctions on Chinese, Russian and North Korean companies for selling missiles and weapons goods to Iran and Syria, administration officials said.

The sanctions were imposed earlier this week on three Chinese state-run companies, three Russian firms and a North Korean mining company under a 2000 arms proliferation law that was renamed Iran and Syria Nonproliferation Act in 2005.
The sanctions ban U.S. government business and support to the companies for two years and block U.S. firms from selling them items that require export licenses.
They are largely symbolic, but U.S. officials have been effective in publicly singling out companies that are engaged in selling arms to rogue states.
The Bush administration has imposed sanctions more than 40 times since 2001 as part of a more aggressive push to stop arms transfers to rogue states or unstable regions of the world.
The law requires the imposition of sanctions on companies, governments and people caught transferring missiles, weapons of mass destruction materials or advanced conventional arms to Iran or Syria.
The officials said the sanctions were imposed after an interagency review of intelligence on transfers that happened within the past two years.
Specific details of the transfers were not released, but officials said they included missile sales to Syria and arms sales and transfers of weapons-related goods to both Iran and Syria.
The sanctions ban the companies from conducting business with U.S. companies for two years and are likely to affect the Russians more than the Chinese and North Korean companies because of the potential to block sales of aircraft-related materials to U.S. manufacturers.
The Chinese companies are the Zibo Chemical Equipment Plant, which has been linked to chemical-weapons sales, the China National Aerotechnology Import Export Corp. and the China National Electrical Import and Export Co.
The Korean Mining and Industrial Development Corp. also was sanctioned for its role in the transfers. An official said the North Korean company, which was linked in the past to air shipments of missiles from North Korea to Iran, is a "serial proliferator."
The new sanctions could affect the six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear program. Until last month, North Korea rejected further talks with five other nations because of what Pyongyang called economic sanctions against a Macao bank that U.S. officials said North Korea was using for money laundering and counterfeiting.

The sanctions also will penalize Russian state-run arms exporter Rosoboroneksport, the officials said. Two other Russian firms, Kolomna Design Bureau and the Tula Design Bureau of Instructment Building, also were sanctioned. A Russian national identified as Alexi Safonov will be sanctioned, too.
Rosoboroneksport signed deals with Syria worth $9.7 billion in May 2005 that U.S. officials said included high-technology arms such as advanced anti-tanks missiles, some of which were used during the fighting last summer between Israel and Hezbollah militants in Lebanon.
Israeli forces found Russian-made Kornet and Metis anti-tank missiles in Lebanon, and U.S. officials said the missiles may have been sold to Syria in 2002.
The Russian government exporter also signed a contract last year to sell $3 billion worth of arms to Venezuela, whose regime has emerged as key regional U.S. enemy.
Rosoboroneksport is run by Sergei Chemzov, a former KGB colleague of Russian President Vladimir Putin
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