Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing


10-13US believes transfer of M-11 missiles by China could trigger sanctions under US law. Intelligence committee judgment on this matter is not sufficient under US law for sanctionability. US has traditionally required a high standard of evidence, because of the seriousness of the consequences.

DPB #120
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 1999, 1:05 P.M.


QUESTION: Will there be any sanctions imposed on China now that our national intelligence estimate has apparently concluded without reservation that Pakistan acquired these new short-range missiles from China?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I don't know if - I don't recall if Mr. Rubin covered this yesterday but, in any case, I will do so. You are referring to the unclassified version of the national intelligence estimate on foreign missile developments that was released on September 9. We believe that the transfer of complete M-11 missiles to Pakistan could meet the requirements for triggering sanctions under the US missile sanctions law. We made, as you may know, determinations of sanctionability and imposed sanctions against Chinese and Pakistani entities for M-11 related transfers - in other words, parts - in 1991 and 1993 and we will certainly do so again if the facts warrant such a result.

It is important, though, to make a distinction between a judgment by the intelligence committee, in other words an intelligence judgment, which obviously is important to informing policy and making policy determinations and judgments and the matter of a legal determination as required under the law. The intelligence committee has reached an analytic judgment that China transferred complete M-11 missiles to Pakistan. Such judgments are very important in evaluating whether legal determinations of sanctionability are warranted under the US sanctions law in particular situations. In other words, such a judgment must be taken into account and will be taken into account as we in the US Government make the legal determination based on a variety of factors concerning sanctionability. But an intelligence judgment is not in and of itself necessarily a sufficient basis for a sanctionability determination under US law. It depends to a large extent on the nature of the evidence underlying that judgment and before the law can be triggered all the various elements of the missile sanctions law must be satisfied.

We have traditionally required a high standard of evidence in making a sanctions determination given the potentially serious consequences and implications of imposing sanctions, particularly in the areas of national security, foreign policy and economic relations. In the M-11 case we have not reached a conclusion that the requirements for a category one finding of sanctionability have been met.

As I indicated, we will be taking the intelligence community's judgment into effect, number one; number two, we have applied sanctions on entities previously for category two sanctions on M-11 related transfers; and we're going to be continuing to look at this very closely - it's very serious - and if we believe that the case can be made within the law on such a violation we will impose sanctions.

QUESTION: What is the next step formally in the process?

MR. FOLEY: I believe that we make periodic determinations and we keep an issue like this - which obviously has been of great concern to the US Government since the early '90s if not before, something that we watch carefully. Whether there is another review scheduled in the next days or weeks I don't know. I can check that for you. and see if I have anything for you. But obviously, it's something that we follow on an ongoing basis.

QUESTION: The '91 and '93 sanctions, what do they ask?

MR. FOLEY: I'm sorry. What do they --

QUESTION: The '91 and --

MR. FOLEY: There were sanctions on Chinese and Pakistani entities that we believe had been directly involved in the transfer of equipment related to the M-11 missiles.

QUESTION: Were they government agencies or businesses?

MR. FOLEY: They were entities. I don't know if they were quasi-governmental or para-statals or private as such. I can check because I'm sure we at the time put out what the entities were, their names and our understanding about them.

QUESTION: Do you know what the sanctions might be in this case and is there anything more to talk to Pakistan and China about here or is it a matter of analysis and getting all your facts straight?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I know that we're in diplomatic contact on a regular basis with both India and - with both China - excuse me - and Pakistan on this issue and related issues because it's obviously a matter of grave national security importance. And I think the Chinese have - maybe it was a different press report but -- I can't remember whether it was the Chinese or Pakistanis reacted today but negatively to that or rejecting the charge in the intelligence community's assessment but, nevertheless, we are under obligation to keep this under constant review.

Obviously, we believe our national means are the most reliable for following up these kinds of cases because governments obviously that are engaged in such kinds of activities are not likely to be forthcoming about those activities, so it's not the question really of trusting the word of other governments although we discuss our concerns and press very strongly for our nonproliferation objectives.

QUESTION: Have you an idea what the penalties would be?

MR. FOLEY: I'll have to check for you, for category one.

QUESTION: Is there a possibility that they could be government sanctions - I mean, sanctions on Beijing or --

MR. FOLEY: I'll have to get that for you.

QUESTION: Our relations with both China and Pakistan right now are both extremely sensitive.

MR. FOLEY: Right.

QUESTION: How is this likely to affect the technology transfers?

MR. FOLEY: Well, this is not a new concern. Obviously, dating back to the early '90s when we sanctioned entities in both countries for cooperation related to the M-11s, ever since then we've been very closely monitoring the situation and we have made progress across the board in our relationship with China on the non-proliferation agenda.

So I would not simply accept - I don't know if that was part of the premise of your question that we've been completely at loggerheads with China. On the contrary, we've made real concrete progress on different aspects of the non-proliferation agenda. But certainly if we were to make such a determination on a legal basis that the missiles as a whole had been transferred, that would trigger -- automatically would trigger sanctions.

QUESTION: My concern is that in the wake of the Belgrade embassy bombing and Pakistan's difficulties with India, are we prepared still to impose government sanctions on either China or Pakistan?

MR. FOLEY: We will follow the law. There can't be any soft-pedaling of the facts. As I explained to the first questioner, the threshold to determine category one sanctions is quite high and correctly so given the implications involved and the intelligence committee has reached an assessment but we have to be able to satisfy the high threshold of the law if we're going to be in a position of imposing sanctions. But we will not hesitate to follow the law if the evidence supports that.

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(The briefing ended at 1:52 P.M.)

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