Vol. 5 Num 926 Sat. January 06, 2007  
Front Page

US sanctions on arms suppliers to Iran, Syria

The US government has imposed sanctions on Chinese, Russian and North Korean companies for selling missiles and other weapons to Iran and Syria, the Washington Times reported yesterday, citing US administration officials.

The three Chinese state-run companies, three Russian firms and a North Korean mining company were sanctioned under the Iran and Syria Nonproliferation Act in 2005, the Times reported.

The sanctions prevent US government business and support to the companies for two years, and blocks US firms from selling certain items to them, according to the Times.

The newspaper described the sanctions as symbolic, but US officials said they have been effective in singling out the companies for public shaming.

Officials told the Times the sales included missiles to Syria, and weapons and weapons-related sales to both Iran and Syria.

Earlier Chinese President Hu Jintao urged Iran yesterday to make a "serious response" to a United Nations Security Council resolution on its nuclear programme, China's state media said.

"The resolution reflects the shared concerns of the international community over the Iranian nuclear issue," Hu told Ali Larijani, Iran's visiting top nuclear negotiator.

"We hope Iran can make a serious response to the resolution," Hu was quoted as saying by Chinese state television.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad this week vowed Iran will step up its atomic programme in defiance of the resolution last month which imposed sanctions against Tehran for its failure to suspend uranium enrichment.

China is a key player in the diplomatic manoeuvrings over Iran's nuclear programme as it is a veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council.

"The international community should continue its diplomatic efforts for a return to negotiations as soon as possible, and seek a lasting, overall and appropriate solution to the Iranian nuclear issue," Hu was quoted as saying.

"China's policy is consistent. We wish to preserve the international non-proliferation system and preserve peace and stability in the Middle East," Hu said according to the television report.

The report did not detail what Larijani, who has been meeting with Chinese leaders in Beijing this week, told Hu regarding the Islamic republic's nuclear programme.

China, which has major energy interests in Iran, supports Tehran's right to a programme.

China last month voted in favour of the UN resolution, but Beijing sought to water down the measure and has said it prefers negotiations instead of sanctions.

The sanctions take aim at Iranian efforts to enrich uranium, which the United States and others fear could be used to make a nuclear weapon.

Iran insists its atomic programme is entirely peaceful and it has every right to the full nuclear fuel cycle.