WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Co-Chair of the House Bipartisan Taskforce on Nonproliferation, released a statement for the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission, insisting that China needs to work in concert with the international community to address arms proliferation, particularly to halt nuclear weapons programs in Iran and North Korea. Rep. Markey urged the United States to confront Beijing’s mixed record on nonproliferation, which significantly compromises international stability.

While Markey praised advancements in export control regulations, he warned of China’s less-than-satisfactory implementation of new domestic laws. “The gaps between China’s announced nonproliferation policies and its concrete behavior are extremely troubling, and raise serious questions about whether China’s new export control regulations are simply window-dressing,” said Rep. Markey.  “It is important that the Bush administration not to ignore this crucial issue where the nonproliferation rubber hits the road.”

Markey’s statement is below:

I would like to thank the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission for the opportunity to discuss China’s recent proliferation record.

Since I testified before the Commission in March 2005, China has continued its mixed record on nonproliferation of the previous few years.  Of course, a judgment of China’s nonproliferation record is highly dependant on Beijing’s relationship with states of proliferation concern such as Iran and North Korea, and the steps that China has taken in concert with the international community to address these challenges.  The bottom line is that China can and must do more to assist the international community in confronting Iran and North Korea and ending their nuclear weapons programs.

China must come to the unambiguous conclusion that preventing the nuclearization of Iran and North Korea far outweighs Beijing’s other interests in those two countries – both political and economic.  Unfortunately, this does not seem to have happened yet, and China continues to let its 2nd- and 3rd-order interests, such as winning petroleum exploration rights in Iran, dominate its 1st-order interest of preventing the deterioration of international security and stability by further nuclear proliferation.

Another crucial issue on which China has unfortunately taken a two-steps-forward, one-step-back approach is the drafting and implementation of domestic export control regulations.

It is clear that over the last decade China has greatly improved its domestic laws controlling the export of sensitive materials and technologies.  At the same time, these improved laws have not been satisfactorily implemented and there is significant doubt as to whether they are being followed by Chinese businesses.  The gaps between China’s announced nonproliferation policies and its concrete behavior are extremely troubling, and raise serious questions about whether China’s new export control regulations are simply window-dressing.

The Bush administration has announced sanctions against Chinese entities (not the Chinese government) for dual-use WMD or missile transfers on 16 occasions since entering office.  The most recent announcement was June 13 of this year, when 5 Chinese entities were sanctioned.  These sanctions came on the heels of sanctions on 6 Chinese entities announced by the Bush Administration on December 23, 2005.  If China’s export control system was really working as advertised, these sanctions would not have been necessary.  Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that many Chinese business entities continue to engage in proliferant activities, and we simply cannot yet say that China has truly committed to improving its domestic nonproliferation system.  While doing the hard work on improving Chinese export controls may not garner headlines, it is up to the Bush administration not to ignore this crucial issue where the nonproliferation rubber hits the road.

In 2002, China issued important new export control regulations regarding biological agents, chemicals and missile-related technology.  This was a positive step.  Yet China was rebuffed when it expressed its intent to join the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in 2003, as MTCR-member states did not believe that Beijing had adequately implemented its previous missile-technology control rules.

The subject of export controls is a very difficult one because of its highly technical and legalistic nature.  Yet if the A.Q. Khan experience has taught us anything, it is that even well-meaning and well-constructed export control systems can be defeated by a determined technology acquisition program.  China can not simply improve the rules on its books; it must be totally committed to the consistent enforcement of those rules.

Another nonproliferation issue of concern stems from the ill-conceived nuclear cooperation agreement between the United States and India.  Given the enormous benefits that will accrue to India, the impact of this agreement upon the security and stability of South Asia cannot be overstated.  Neither China nor Pakistan will ignore the fact that the U.S. nuclear cooperation agreement will allow India to increase its nuclear weapon production from an estimated 7 bombs a year to 40 or 50.

Since the US-India nuclear deal was inked, we have heard worrying hints from Beijing and Islamabad that dramatically expanded nuclear cooperation between China and Pakistan would necessarily follow the US-Indian example.  Press reports from a Chinese delegation to Islamabad in late August reported that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf requested the construction of 6 new nuclear power plants.  Of course, any such agreement would be against the current rules of the international Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), since Pakistan (like India) refuses to accept full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards on all of its nuclear activities.  However, since the United States is in the process of forcing a rule change in the NSG to allow its nuclear agreement with India to go forward, we will have precious little leverage to stop China from seeking identical treatment for its nuclear ally, Pakistan.

Even more worryingly, we learned in late July 2006 that Pakistan is currently constructing an enormous new plutonium-production reactor at Khushab which will allow it to increase its nuclear weapons production from an estimated 2 or 3 bombs a year to 50.  Considering that China assisted Pakistan in the construction of its first reactor at Khushab, and given the public comments from both Beijing and Islamabad concerning increasing nuclear cooperation, it is incumbent upon China to prove that it is not now, and will not in the future, be assisting Pakistan in the construction of its new plutonium-production plant.  Furthermore, it seems that the Bush administration has known about the reactor under construction at Khushab for some time.

September 14, 2006

CONTACT: Israel Klein