WikiLeaks: Chinese weapons fall into hands of insurgents

 Published: 2/2/2011 10:34:01 AM GMT
Original Cached

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.

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.

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 materiel”; 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”; “two Chinese-origin QW-1 MANPADS (surface-to-air missiles) that Iran had transferred to Iraqi insurgents” and “hundreds of newly-produced Iranian PG-7-AT1 rocket-propelled grenades that contain Chinese-made base detonators” that had been “repeatedly fired at Coalition forces” by Shia militants.

Raising concerns about Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons programme, Ms 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.

The alleged breaches were highlighted a year after President Bush had raised the issue of arms sales with Chinese President Hu at a summit in Australia.

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 EU 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”.

Later the same year the German computer firm Siemens was forced to recall 111 boxes of computers that it had sold to a Chinese company linked to Iran’s nuclear programme. A cable from the US Embassy in Berlin noted: “Siemens needs to be more careful about whom they sell to,” though it had “technically” done nothing wrong, as the computers were not controlled export items.

The US also raised concerns about the French firm Sofradir selling infrared detectors to a Chinese firm that were being used in thermal imaging systems sold on by China to Iran.

More Stories On

TAG CLOUD Tags Cloud

Get Adobe Flash player

Previous Next
News in Pictures

China custody death protests

Property protests erupting in China

Chinese Protest Amid Government

Shots Fired At Chinese Consulate In Los Angeles

China's Secret Weapon?