China May Limit Anti-WMD Work Over Iran Sanctions Dispute

Global Security Newswire Staff
April 30, 2014, 8:07 a.m.

China said it may lim­it its “coun­ter­pro­lif­er­a­tion” work with Wash­ing­ton over U.S. steps to pun­ish an ac­cused vi­ol­at­or of Ir­an sanc­tions, Re­u­ters re­ports.

China’s for­eign min­istry on Wed­nes­day said Beijing “res­ol­utely op­poses” new U.S. ac­tions to tar­get Li Fang­wei, a Chinese en­tre­pren­eur de­scribed by the Treas­ury De­part­ment as a “known pro­lif­er­at­or for Ir­an’s bal­list­ic mis­sile pro­gram.” Treas­ury on Tues­day an­nounced pen­al­ties against eight firms op­er­ated by Li, and the State De­part­ment an­nounced a $5 mil­lion bounty in a bid to de­tain him, Re­u­ters re­por­ted sep­ar­ately.

Fed­er­al pro­sec­utors on Tues­day ac­cused Li of evad­ing pri­or U.S. pen­al­ties through an ex­pand­ing ar­ray of front firms, the Wall Street Journ­al re­por­ted. They seized $6.9 mil­lion in money linked to the al­leged pro­lif­er­at­or, ac­cord­ing to Re­u­ters.

Dav­id Co­hen, Treas­ury De­part­ment un­der sec­ret­ary for ter­ror­ism and fin­an­cial in­tel­li­gence, said the United States “will con­tin­ue vig­or­ously to en­force [its] sanc­tions, even as we ex­plore the pos­sib­il­ity of a com­pre­hens­ive deal ad­dress­ing Ir­an’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram.”

Beijing is one of five gov­ern­ments work­ing with Wash­ing­ton in an on­go­ing mul­ti­lat­er­al dia­logue on Ir­an’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram. Wash­ing­ton and oth­er West­ern gov­ern­ments hope the talks will lead to long-term lim­its on Ir­an’s weapon-us­able nuc­le­ar activ­it­ies, though Tehran in­sists its atom­ic in­ten­tions are peace­ful.

“The U.S. [ac­tions against Li] won’t help solve the prob­lem and will also im­pair our non­pro­lif­er­a­tion co­oper­a­tion,” the Journ­al quoted for­eign min­istry spokes­man Qin Gang as say­ing. “We urge the U.S. to stop sanc­tions of com­pan­ies and in­di­vidu­als and come back to the right track of non­pro­lif­er­a­tion co­oper­a­tion.”

He ad­ded that Beijing closely mon­it­ors its own trade rules and would “ser­i­ously deal” with any breaches, Re­u­ters re­por­ted.

Li has as­ser­ted in­no­cence in the past, but he was un­avail­able on Tues­day to re­spond to the latest U.S. ac­tions.

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