Washington: China has been a "key supplier" of nuclear arms and missile technologies to Pakistan and Iran, a US Congressional report said.

China has been a "key supplier" of technology, particularly PRC (Peoples Republic of China) entities providing nuclear and missile-related technology to Pakistan and missile-related technology to Iran, said a recent report of the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

The report 'China and Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Missiles: Policy Issues' was prepared by CRS – an independent research wing of the US Congress – for its lawmakers.

According to the report, the Bush Administration imposed sanctions on 20 occasions on various PRC "entities" (including state-owned entities) for troublesome transfers related to missiles and chemical weapons to Pakistan, Iran, or perhaps another country, including repeated sanctions on some "serial proliferators".

In its report, running into more than 80-pages, CRS says in 1996, US policymakers faced the issue of whether to impose sanctions on the PRC for technology transfers to Pakistan's nuclear program, and Beijing issued another nuclear non-proliferation pledge.

"Since then, the United States has maintained concerns—but at a lower level—about continued PRC nuclear cooperation with Pakistan, particularly involving the construction of nuclear power plants at Chashma," it said.

"The PRC government is believed to know about the nuclear cooperation with Pakistan.

"Nonetheless, in 2004, the Bush Administration supported China's application to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), despite congressional concerns about China's failure to apply the NSG's 'full-scope safeguards' to its nuclear projects in Pakistan," the report said.

Full-scope safeguards apply IAEA inspections to all other declared nuclear facilities in addition to the facility importing supplies in order to prevent diversions to weapon programs.

CRS said China's past and persisting connections to Pakistan's nuclear program raised questions about whether Beijing was involved in or had knowledge about the long-time efforts, publicly confirmed in early 2004, of A Q Khan, the former head of Pakistan's nuclear weapon program, in selling uranium enrichment technology to Iran, North Korea, and Libya.

Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet confirmed A Q Khan's network of nuclear trade in open testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee on February 24, 2004
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China's ties to the network was a concern, particularly because China was an early recipient of the uranium enrichment technology using centrifuges that Khan had acquired in Europe.

In return, in 1982, China gave Pakistan 15 tons of uranium hexafluoride gas for production of bombgrade uranium, 50 kilograms of weapons-grade enriched uranium enough for two bombs, and a blue-print for a nuclear weapon that China already tested, according to Khan, it said.

CRS said from the early 1990s to 2000, the George H W Bush and Clinton Administrations faced the issue of whether to impose sanctions on PRC "entities" for transferring M-11 short-range ballistic missiles or related technology to Pakistan.

The Clinton Administration took eight years to determine in 2000 that PRC entities had transferred complete M-11 missiles as well as technology to Pakistan, but waived sanctions in return for another missile nonproliferation pledge from Beijing.

However, despite that promise of November 2000, US has continued concerns about PRC technology transfers that have helped Pakistan to build domestic missile programs, including development of medium-range ballistic missiles.

(Agencies)