Democratic Senator Urges Administration to Impose Sanctions on China

A Democratic senator today urged the Obama administration to impose sanctions on China for allowing illegal shipments of components to Iran that can be used in its nuclear program.

In his letter to Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) said at least two U.S. court cases have demonstrated how Chinese companies and private individuals conspire to violate U.S. export control laws.

In 2012, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia indicted Parviz Khaki, an Iranian national, and his Chinese associate, Zongcheng Yi, on six counts of conspiracy, export control violation, fraud, and money laundering charges for procuring and attempting to procure “U.S. goods that can be used to construct, operate, and maintain gas centrifuges to enrich uranium” in Iran, Casey noted.

On May 12, 2012, the District Court of Massachusetts charged Qiang Hu, a Chinese citizen, with one count of conspiracy to violate export controls for allegedly using his position as sales manager at MKS Instruments Shanghai Ltd. to fraudulently obtain U.S. export licenses and sell over $6.5 million worth of MKS pressure transducers, a technology classified as “dual-use” under U.S. export control law. These components were seen in photos from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to the Natanz enrichment plant in 2008.

"I urge you to consider designating China as a 'Destination of Possible Diversion Concern' under Title III of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act (CISADA). The U.S. and multilateral sanctions against Iran are working, but ensuring that Iran cannot acquire sensitive technology requires all parties to UN sanctions to rigorously and consistently enforce them," Casey wrote.

The designation would require Chinese companies to apply for special licenses to import controlled or sensitive U.S goods because of the high risk of diversion to Iran.

"China’s failure to address weaknesses in its export controls regime and to enforce UNSC sanctions is a loophole that Iran will continue to utilize, unless we take steps to close it by designating China a 'Destination of Possible Diversion Concern,'" wrote Casey. "I urge you to consider doing so and request that, should you determine that China does not meet the requirements for the designation, you reply to me explaining your determination."