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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 23, February 1998

China's Nuclear and Dual-Use Export Controls: US State Department Fact Sheet

'China's Nuclear and Nuclear-Related Dual-Use Export Controls,' US State Department Fact Sheet, 4 February 1998

Editor's note: the Fact Sheet was issued by the State Department to coincide with 4 February testimony to the House Committee on International Relations by Robert J. Einhorn, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation. See last issue for extensive extracts of an interview with Einhorn on this topic.

Full text

"State Council Decree

In May 1997, China's State Council issued a Circular on Strict Implementation of China's Nuclear Export Policy which covered the export of nuclear and nuclear-related dual-use items on an interim basis. This directive:

  • Applies to all governmental and nongovernmental entities in China.
  • States that nuclear materials, nuclear equipment and related technology, non-nuclear materials for reactors, and nuclear-related dual-use equipment, materials and technologies on China's export list may not be supplied to or used in facilities not under IAEA safeguards.
  • Covers technology in all forms, including exchanges of personnel and information.
  • Requires exporters of nuclear-related dual-use items to non-NPT countries:

    (I) to seek prior confirmation from China's Atomic Energy Authority of the IAEA safeguards status of nuclear facilities in the recipient country; and

    (II) to seek end-user certificates from the importing government along with assurances that the relevant equipment or cooperation will not be retransferred to unsafeguarded nuclear facilities.

  • The associated control list (issued in June 1997) is substantively identical to the dual-use control list adopted by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (published in IAEA INFCIRC 254, Part II).

Nuclear Export Control Regulations

In September 1997, China issued nuclear export control regulations and an associated control list. These regulations:

  • Apply to all governmental and non-governmental entities in China.
  • Provide that all nuclear exports are under the control of the State Atomic Energy Agency which will examine all nuclear export applications and refer them to other appropriate agencies as necessary (i.e. MOFTEC, SSTC, MFA).
  • Control nuclear materials, nuclear equipment and related technology, non-nuclear materials for reactors, related information and technology and personnel exchanges.
  • Include a control list substantively identical to the 'trigger list' adopted by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (published in IAEA INFCIRC 254, Part I).
  • State that only units designated by the State Council are permitted to engage in such exports.
  • Give the Chinese government the right to suspend exports if the recipient country violates its commitments or there is a danger of nuclear proliferation.
  • Require recipient governments to provide assurances of peaceful use, IAEA safeguards, no retransfer to third parties without Chinese government approval, and physical protection of nuclear material.
  • Establish authority for taking criminal, civil or administrative actions against violators of the regulations.
  • Finally, in its statement at the Zangger Committee, China stressed that its export controls include a 'catch-all' authority whereby exports which violate the export control principles, or pose a proliferation risk, whether or not they are on a control list, will be denied export licenses.

Zangger Committee Membership

On 16 October, 1997, China joined the NPT Exporters Committee, also known as the Zangger Committee, which represents China's first membership in a multilateral export control regime. Ambassador Li Changhe of the Chinese Permanent Mission in Vienna delivered a prepared statement at the October meeting which outlined in detail China's nuclear and nuclear-related dual-use export control policies and practices. His statement set forth the basis and content of Chinese nuclear export controls, and he stressed that China's nuclear export control system is based on three basic principles:

(1) serving peaceful purposes only;

(2) accepting IAEA safeguards;

(3) forbidding transfer to any third country without China's consent.

Li also made clear that China's policy of not assisting unsafeguarded nuclear facilities extends to activities related to nuclear explosive devices, and that China strictly prohibits any exchange of nuclear weapons related technology and information with other countries. In another key pronouncement, Li affirmed that Chinese government departments have the right to deny the export of an item not on a control list if there is reason to believe that the export might contribute to nuclear proliferation. Such 'catch-all' controls have become an important feature of an effective nationwide WMD export control system.

Nuclear-related Dual-Use Export Control Regulations

Chinese authorities have stated that they will issue formal nuclear-related dual-use export control regulations by mid-1998. Ambassador Li, in his statement to the Zangger Committee, confirmed that the control list associated with these regulations will be based on the Nuclear Suppliers Groups dual-use control list, as defined in INFCIRC 254, Part II (as were China's interim dual-use controls discussed above). Until the formal dual-use regulations are issued, the Interim Directive controls nuclear-related dual-use exports."

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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