Nuclear Safeguards Office Admits China's WMD & Missile Exports

November 30, 2006

Ahead of next week's release of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties' report on proposed uranium sales to China, the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO) has finally admitted that the US government has imposed sanctions on four Chinese firms for supplying Iran with missile-related and dual-use nuclear components.

The Safeguards Office has also admitted that the same four companies had sanctions imposed on them by the US in 2004, giving the lie to the Office's claim that China's export record is improving.

Friends of the Earth's national nuclear campaigner, Dr. Jim Green, said today: "The Safeguards Office should be called to account for having failed to inform the Joint Standing Committee about China's missile and dual-use nuclear exports to Iran. Only when pressed with direct questions by Friends of the Earth did the Safeguards Office belatedly admit knowledge of China's record. The so-called Safeguards Office should be abolished and replaced with a genuine safeguards office entirely separate from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade."

"Even now, the Safeguards Office has failed to fully inform the Joint Standing Committee about China's WMD export record. For example, the Office would be aware that a US Congress-appointed panel, the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission, is seeking broader sanctions against Chinese firms and claims that China has contributed to North Korea's nuclear weapons program," Dr Green said.

The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission states that Chinese companies and state organisations continue to proliferate weapons and that some of these transfers violate China's international non-proliferation agreements, harm regional security "and are a measure of China's failure to meet the threshold test of international responsibility in the area of non-proliferation."

Dr. Green concluded: "The US has acknowledged that China fails to meet basic thresholds in relation to non-proliferation so it is a disgrace that Howard and Beazley support exporting WMD-feedstock in the form of uranium to China and it is a disgrace that the so-called Safeguards Office fails to inform the parliament about China's appalling track record of missile and WMD-related exports."

Contact: Jim Green 0417 318 368