Policy on China Faulted at Hearing: Panel Chairman Scoffs at `Pledges'

Article excerpt

The chairman of the House International Relations Committee sharply criticized the Clinton administration yesterday for not imposing sanctions on China for violating U.S. and international law on exporting nuclear weapon technology to Pakistan.

"Fighting proliferation isn't about getting meaningless pledges from governments that don't have a good track record of adhering to earlier pledges," Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman said during a committee hearing on proliferation. "Fighting proliferation isn't about ignoring overwhelming evidence of illegal transfers."

Mr. Gilman, New York Republican, said he saw no evidence to support administration claims that it considers countering the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological arms a high priority.

Lynn Davis, undersecretary of state for arms control, testified before the panel that China's transfer of ring magnets to Pakistan last year violated the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which Beijing signed in 1992.

But she said China's pledge not to repeat the magnet sale is "an important policy achievement."

Sanctions were not imposed after Chinese leaders said they were unaware of the technology sale to a laboratory in Pakistan where nuclear weapons research is carried out, she said. The magnets are used in centrifuges that enrich uranium for weapons.

Miss Davis, meanwhile, declined to talk publicly about new intelligence reports that Chinese M-11 missiles are operational in Pakistan in testimony before the committee yesterday.

However, Miss Davis said the State Department is demanding a high threshold of evidence before confirming the M-11 deployment to avoid a mistake that would hamper U.S. business interests.

Administration failures to take tough action to counter the spread of weapons is partly the result of State Department lawyers and policy-makers who "erected hurdles" to the imposition of sanctions, Mr. …