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China devises nuclear curbs

February 18, 2007|From a Times Staff Writer

BEIJING — China announced Saturday that it was imposing tighter controls on nuclear technology to curb the proliferation of "mass destructive weapons."

The announcement, which was signed by Premier Wen Jiabao and posted on the government's website, prohibits importers of nuclear goods or related technologies, including software, from using the products for any purpose other than stated in the purchase agreement or transferring the goods to an unapproved third party.

Importers reproducing material for nuclear fuel purposes must be supervised by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the announcement states.

China, a nuclear power and member of the U.N. Security Council, has become more active in arms control activities in recent years and has played a key role in the six-party talks aimed at persuading North Korea to give up its nuclear program.

But critics argue that China has not done enough to prevent sensitive military technology from ending up in the wrong hands. That has led the U.S. to impose tough controls on the export to China of so-called dual-use technology that has civilian and military uses. The latest announcement could boost efforts by the Chinese government, and U.S. business groups, to get those restrictions relaxed.

Under the revised rules, China's Ministry of Commerce will be responsible for enforcing the import rules and will have the authority to make changes in collaboration with the IAEA.

The ministry also can detain and inspect suspicious cargo and impose "hefty fines" on violators of the rules.

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