Albright Confirms That China Sold Missiles to Iran Disclosure Is Weapon for Gop

Article excerpt

The State Department has told Congress that China has sold Iran cruise missiles that enhance Iran's ability to disrupt Persian Gulf shipping and challenge U.S. forces there.

The information is in an unclassified 25-page set of responses to questions presented to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in February by Rep. Gerald Solomon, R-N.Y.

For the most part, the document does little more than confirm what has been widely reported about China's weapons sales to Iran and Iran's efforts to develop ballistic missiles and chemical and biological weapons. The report was designed to produce as little news as possible, according to a State Department official who participated in preparing it. Nevertheless, congressional GOP staff members welcomed it as another weapon to use in their effort to bludgeon President Bill Clinton's administration into imposing new sanctions on China and to influence the scheduled vote on extension of China's preferential U.S. trade status. The report says it is "a matter of public record that China has transferred a number of C-802 ship-based, anti-ship cruise missiles to Iran . . . These missiles are roughly the equivalent of the French EXOCET missile that Iraq used in 1987 to attack the U.S. frigate Stark in the Persian Gulf, killing 37 Americans." Asked about Navy intelligence reports that China also had supplied Iran with a land-based version of the C-802, which would be harder to detect, the paper says China "has advertised" a land-based missile but declined to go further in the unclassified paper. The issue of Chinese weapons sales to Iran has long hung like a cloud over relations between the United States and China. …