Home International Chinese weapons fall into hands of militants: WikiLeaks

Chinese weapons fall into hands of militants: WikiLeaks


London : China’s failure to enforce export controls on arms to Iran has led to the Chinese-made weapons falling into the hands of insurgents fighting coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, secret US cables leaked by WikiLeaks have revealed.

US diplomats also feared that Chinese companies were selling materials to Iran that could be used to build nuclear missiles and other weapons of mass destruction, the Daily Telegraph reported Thursday, citing the leaked documents.

Chinese-made guns, as well as rocket-propelled grenades and surface-to-air missiles containing Chinese-made components, have all been used against Coalition forces or civilian targets in Iraq, the US claims, while other weapons have been obtained by militants in Afghanistan.

The US was so concerned about Chinese arms and components being sold to Iran that in September 2008 the State Department launched a major diplomatic offensive to put pressure on Beijing.

It decided to share intelligence with eight “key allies” including Spain and Italy to “persuade China to enforce its export control laws more effectively” and to “aggressively implement” UN Security Council resolutions on the sale of arms and weapons materials.

According to the cables, ambassadors were told to encourage the foreign governments to point out to the Chinese that arms sales to Iran “could ultimately damage China’s reputation and its bilateral relationship with” each of the countries.

Patricia McNerney, of the US Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, listed examples of Chinese-made weapons seized from insurgents in Iraq in a cable sent from Washington to US diplomats abroad.

They included “new-condition Chinese produced small arms” which were “found together with newly-produced Iranian military material” and a surface-to-air missile fired at a Boeing 747 civilian airliner over Baghdad in August 2004 “assembled in Iran using a mix of Chinese and Iranian parts”.

Raising concerns about Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons programme, McNerney added: “Certain state-owned Chinese entities and private firms continue to export or transship key items and/or dual-use technology needed to develop weapons of mass destruction or their means of delivery, as well as conventional weapons to Iran.”

She told US diplomats: “Getting China to aggressively implement United Nations Security Council resolutions as well as more effectively enforce its own export controls regarding transfers of dual-use and military items to Iran is an essential component of our overall diplomatic strategy to thwart Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and delivery systems for weapons of mass destruction.”

In 2008 the US also confronted China over a shipment to Iran of 208 tonnes of potassium perchlorate, which can be used as rocket fuel.

According to the report, China is by no means the only country accused of failing to implement export controls on arms and materials sales to Iran. In April 2009 the ambassador to the European Union in Brussels noted concerns that smaller EU member states were failing to take seriously enough the threat posed by Iran.

One EU official told US diplomats that he had to “continually remind” European countries “that the situation is dangerous and unabated will lead to nuclear war in the Middle East”.