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Terrorism & Security

Former nuclear inspector: China falling short on enforcing sanctions on Iran

A former UN nuclear inspector says China is too lax to adequately prevent Iranian buyers from acquiring materials and equipment for nuclear development.

By Correspondent / January 14, 2011

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China is failing to enforce trade laws necessary for nuclear sanctions against Iran, weakening international efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear arsenal, according to a former nuclear inspector for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Bloomberg reports that David Albright, a nuclear physicist who served as a UN nuclear inspector in Iran in the 1990s, warned Thursday that “China does not implement and enforce its trade controls or its sanctions laws adequately.”

While the U.S. and Europe have developed law enforcement and export control networks to detect Iranian front companies attempting to buy dual-use technology or materials, in China there’s "still a large amount" of equipment and materials that reaches Iranian buyers, Albright said.

"To a German supplier in China, it looks like a domestic sale where export controls don’t even come into play," Albright said. "It turns out that company is a front for an Iranian smuggling network."

Mr. Albright also said that “sanctions are working, but they can be improved," noting that Iran appears to be facing shortages of maraging steel, an alloy used to build centrifuges for enriching uranium. Bloomberg writes that the Chinese Embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment on Albright's remarks.

Albright's comments come ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao's meeting next week with President Obama in Washington in which nuclear sanctions against Iran are likely to come up. The China Post, a pro-China Taiwanese newspaper, reports that on Thursday China rebuffed an offer from Tehran to tour Iranian nuclear facilities, "potentially smoothing a source of friction" between the US and China ahead of President Hu's visit.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that China's representative to the IAEA, one of those Iran invited to the tour, “is still in China right now, so it will be difficult for him to go to Iran.”


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