TITLE:U.S.-CHINA AGREE ON SHARED RESPONSIBILITY FOR PROLIFERATION
(NPT: U.S. opposes nuclear cooperation with Iran) (850)
By Jacquelyn Porth
USIA Security Affairs Writer
New York -- Secretary of State Christopher and Chinese Foreign
Minister Qian Quichen, who met April 17 in New York to discuss a very
broad agenda of security and political issues, agreed that their
nations share "responsibility" for dealing with the world's nuclear
proliferation problems, a U.S. official said.
Christopher also stressed U.S. opposition to "all nuclear cooperation
with Iran," the official said, and told the Chinese foreign minister
that the United States is not singling out China in expressing its
concern about a possible Chinese-Iranian nuclear deal; he said it is
concerned with a Russian-Iranian deal as well.
While the proposed Chinese transfer of nuclear technology to Iran
would not violate Chinese obligations under the 1968 nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the official said Christopher asked
the Chinese to refrain from making the transfer because the United
States believes Iran is seeking nuclear weapons. To emphasize the
point, he said, the United States has asked the Chinese to study
written intelligence information similar to information it has
provided the Russians about Iranian nuclear intentions.
Rather than reacting to the U.S. position, the official indicated, the
Chinese were "in a listening mode." At the same time, he said the
Chinese understand "the strength of our concern" regarding any
nation's nuclear cooperation with Iran, which is based on having seen
evidence of Iranian efforts to procure equipment and technology aimed
at producing fissile materials.
The Iranians "seem to be seeking to acquire capabilities that have no
other rational justification than the acquisition of the ability to
acquire nuclear weapons," the official noted, although he said the
Chinese have pointed out that their cooperation with Iran would be
"solely for peaceful purposes" and would be conducted under
International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.
The U.S. official, who briefed reporters following the bilateral
meeting, described the U.S.-Chinese discussion on nuclear
non-proliferation as "very positive," with the Chinese foreign
minister expressing the need to have a successful outcome of the NPT
review and extension conference, which opened later in the day at the
United Nations. The official said the Chinese gave no indication of
how they plan to vote on NPT extension, although their public position
will be unveiled on April 18 when Qian addresses the conference.
The United States has been seeking indefinite extension of the 1968
NPT agreement, although other nations have sought to have the treaty
extended for a fixed period or fixed periods.
Following a "wide-ranging discussion" on non-proliferation issues, the
official said the United States and China agreed to hold regular
consultations on arms control, non-proliferation and related security
matters. They also agreed to hold expert-level discussions aimed at
finding a way to overcome past impediments to peaceful nuclear
He also said expert discussions will be scheduled "soon" on missile
non-proliferation issues. The United States has proposed opening a
dialogue with the Chinese on how to establish a "competent" export
control system, the official said, and the Chinese have agreed.
Despite plans to hold three consultations, the official said "a lot of
unfinished business" remains on the non-proliferation agenda between
the two countries.
Much of the U.S.-Chinese meeting focused on U.S. concerns about North
Korea, the official said. He said both sides agreed that the April 21
deadline should not be viewed as "fixed," that the nuclear freeze
should not be broken, and that there must be a North-South dialogue in
order to implement the nuclear framework agreement and "to settle the
future of the peninsula."
On the broader agenda, the official indicated that both the U.S. and
Chinese sides acknowledged that there have been "some differences and
difficulties" in their relationship but also believed that some
progress has been made in recent months and that there is a sense that
"momentum has been maintained in the relationship."
Other issues addressed during the U.S.-Chinese meeting included a
lengthy discussion of human rights, including the treatment of Chinese
dissidents and Red Cross visits to Chinese prisons. Christopher
expressed hope in the meeting that the Chinese would talk to the Dalai
Lama "without preconditions" about Tibet. The official said China's
record on human rights continues to be an "impediment to the full
flowering" of the U.S.-Chinese relationship.
The September women's conference in Beijing was discussed, with
Christopher expressing the U.S. hope that non-governmental
organizations will have "fair access" to the proceedings, the briefer
said. The secretary of state also welcomed China's
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ACCESSION to the
World Trade Organization, while indicating that it would have to be on
commercially acceptable grounds.
Christopher and Qian also discussed the disputed Spratly Islands, with
Christopher expressing concern about the issue of freedom of
navigation and noting U.S. opposition to using force to settle
conflicting claims to the territory. The briefer said the secretary of
state indicated U.S. opposition to further construction.