Cables reveal Chinese connection to Iran’s ballistic missilesFebruary 9, 2017
The Trump administration recently imposed sanctions on Iran for its missile test, and the sanctions reveal that Tehran’s missile program is backed by covert assistance from China.
The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which enforces U.S. sanctions, said last week that a “Chinese-based network” was helping procure goods for Iran’s ballistic missile program.
The sanctions designated 13 people and 12 companies who were placed under the Treasury restrictions that prohibit any U.S. companies from doing financial transactions with them. The action followed a flight test Jan. 29 of an Iranian medium-range missile that failed a short time after launch.
The sanctions were unusual for identifying two Chinese nationals, Xianhua Jack Qin and Yaodong Richard Yue. Also named was Carol Zhou, also believed to be part of the Chinese procurement network but whose nationality was not disclosed by Treasury.
Additionally, two Chinese companies were targeted: Ningbo New Century Import and Export Co. Ltd, based in the eastern port city of Ningbo and managed by Mr. Qin; and Cosailing Business Trading Co. Ltd. based in Qingdao. Mr. Yue told the Reuters news service that he is with Cosailing and had his bank account frozen.
“I export to lots of countries, and Iran is a customer too. That’s totally normal,” Mr. Yue said.
Cosailing trades in a variety of products including industrial machinery and furnaces. An internet search indicates Mr. Qin is Ningbo’s manager and that it manufactures commutators for electric motors and electrical tools, as well as vehicle parts.
China’s backing of Iran’s missile program was detailed in leaked State Department cables made public on the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.
The cables reveal that Chinese firms have provided a range of missile-related goods including specialty steel, accelerometers, ball bearings and gyroscopes.
Iran’s Shahid Bakeri Industrial Group has acquired Chinese-made graphite cylinders, tungsten powder and tungsten copper-alloy ingots. The group is in charge of Iran’s solid-propellant ballistic missile program.
A report on Iran’s ballistic missile program from 2008 states that Tehran was developing several medium-range ballistic missiles, including the deployed Shahab-3 with a range of 800 miles; an improved Shahab-3 with a range of 1,242 miles; and the Ghadr-1 with a range of 1,100 miles. Another medium-range missile is the Seijil, with a range of 1,200 miles.
A 2009 State Department cable said: “Chinese firms over the past year have offered or sold [Missile Technology Control Regime]-controlled and non-annex items to ballistic missile-related entities in foreign countries, including Iran, Pakistan, and Syria. In some cases, sales have continued despite extensive information provided by the U.S. to Chinese authorities outlining our concerns about these firms’ activities.”
The transfers have violated U.S. nonproliferation laws, the U.S. government says.
“Iran’s continued support for terrorism and development of its ballistic missile program poses a threat to the region, to our partners worldwide, and to the United States,” acting OFAC Director John E. Smith said in a statement Jan. 3. The sanctions are aimed at countering “Iranian malign activities,” he added.
“We will continue to actively apply all available tools, including financial sanctions, to address this behavior,” he said.