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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 40, September - October 1999

Editor's Introduction

No US Sanctions Against China over Pakistan Missiles

On September 14, the US State Department announced it would not be imposing any sanctions against China for supplying Pakistan with M-11 short-range ballistic missiles. On September 9, a new Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on missile threats facing the US had stated unequivocally that Beijing had supplied Islamabad with the weapons (see Documents and Sources). According to State Department spokesperson James Foley, sanctions had been considered, but "we have not reached a conclusion that the requirements for a category of sanctionability have been met". Foley elaborated: "We have traditionally required a high standard of evidence in making a sanctions determination, given the potentially serious... implications of imposing sanctions, particularly in the area of national security, foreign policy and economic relations".

Many members of Congress reacted angrily to the State Department's decision, none more so than Jesse Helms (Republican - North Carolina), Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, who threatened on September 17 to block the nomination of Robert Einhorn as Assistant Secretary of State for Non-Proliferation Affairs unless sanctions were imposed: "The National Intelligence Estimate... makes it absolutely clear that there is zero doubt about China's having transferred M-11 missiles to Pakistan... The Administration can adhere to the [Congressional] law [providing the option of imposing sanctions in such a case], which it has been flouting for the past six years, or it can make do without any Assistant Secretary of State for Non-Proliferation Affairs... On the day that the... Administration demonstrates that it deserves an Assistant Secretary for these issues, we will try to co-operate - then, but not before".

Reports: US won't punish China on missiles - State Dept., Reuters, September 14; US may sanction China over missiles, Associated Press, September 15; Helms to block State Dept. nominee over missiles, Reuters, September 17; Helms demands sanctions for China, Associated Press, September 17.

© 1999 The Acronym Institute.

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