Sanctions Threatened Over Sales To Pakistan
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The United States threatened on Tuesday to impose economic sanctions on China if it ships missiles to Pakistan in defiance of an international agreement.
A U.S. delegation headed by Under Secretary of State Lynne Davis will tell Chinese officials in Beijing the consequences could be severe ″and that includes sanctions,″ said Michael McCurry, the State Department spokesman.
Other officials said there was strong evidence China was shipping missiles to Pakistan that technically were not covered by the Missile Technology Control Regime.
The agreement, which China did not sign but agreed to honor, bans shipment of missiles with a range above 300 kilometers, or 186 miles, and a payload of more than 500 kilograms, or 1,100 pounds.
The officials said the issue is whether the missiles could be altered once in Pakistan’s hands to be within the boundaries of the agreement.
By way of example, the Scud-B missiles Iraq fired at Israel and Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf war initially had a range of 290 kilometers, or 180 miles, but Iraq altered the payload to make the missile capable of flying farther.
″It’s a gray area,″ said one of the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. ″If we knew everything we need to know we would have made a determination.″
McCurry said Davis would ask Chinese officials about the capability of the missiles sent to Pakistan. Secretary of State Warren Christopher also intends to raise the issue at a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen in Singapore next week.
Two months ago President Clinton extended China’s Most Favored Nation status for a year despite a questionable human rights record as well as questions about its missile sales to Pakistan, Syria and other countries.
This gave China trade access to U.S. markets equal to that of most other nations.
The officials said suspicions about China’s deals with Pakistan were heightened late last year.
Under Secretary Davis and her delegation left Monday night for Britain, France, Germany, Japan and China in a drive to ban nuclear tests as well as to slow the spread of missile technology.
President Clinton on July 3 stopped U.S. testing for at least 15 months and said he was willing to make the ban permanent depending on how other nuclear powers responded.
China could be the key stop. Although China has not tested a nuclear weapon since last September, its stand on a test ban is unclear.
France’s endorsement of a test ban is probable, but not considered automatic. President Francois Mitterrand has urged an end to all nuclear testing. However, he shares power with some conservatives who might raise objections.
The other known members of the nuclear club - the United States, Britain and Russia - are all virtually certain to agree to a treaty provided there are no defections.