China tightens dual-use nuclear export

Updated: 2007-02-17 08:27

China's State Council on Friday promulgated amendments to its regulations regarding the export of nuclear goods and technologies for both civil and military use, requiring the importers to fulfill more obligations to ward off acts of nuclear terrorism.

The State Council Decree No. 484, signed by Premier Wen Jiabao, forbids the importer from reproducing nuclear goods or technologies provided by China to carry out nuclear explosions or for any other purpose which is not agreed before purchase.

The recipient of the goods must also guarantee that they would not reproduce the materials for nuclear fuel cycling unless it is under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency or it has signed agreements with the agency.

Importers are also forbidden from transferring a reproduction of nuclear goods and technologies to any third party which has not been identified as the final user.

Previous regulations enacted by China in June 1998 failed to address the issue of reproduction of nuclear goods.

The revision of the regulation also added software onto the country's control list for nuclear exports, which used to refer only to equipment, materials and relative technologies.

Observers said the revision, which takes effect immediately, is a sign of China's commitment to nuclear nonproliferation and a reaction to rising concerns over the possibility of nuclear terrorism.

The revision also clarifies that the Chinese government would take "all necessary measures" to prevent nuclear goods and technologies exports from jeopardizing national and global peace and security.

It also says for the first time that licensed companies must keep all contracts, invoices and business correspondences relevant to the export of nuclear goods and technologies for at least five years.

A special expert consulting panel will be set up under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Commerce to undertake the consulting, evaluation and verification of nuclear goods and technologies for exports.

The Ministry of Commerce may ask the customs authorities to detain and inspect suspicious cargo. For goods and cargo beyond the supervisory capacity of customs, the Ministry of Commerce may seal them up and ask relevant departments to carry out further inspections.

The revision also clarified the penalties and fines for transgressors. Those who smuggle nuclear goods and technologies or counterfeit trade export licenses will face hefty fines.

If the turnover is less than 50,000 yuan (about 6,579 U.S. dollars), transgressors will be fined from 50,000 yuan to 250,000 yuan (about 32, 895 U.S. dollars).

Unlike the previous regulations which required State Council approval for the modification of the nuclear export control list, the Ministry of Commerce will have the authority to make regular adjustments in collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency and other members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

China joined the NSG in 2004 and is one of seven countries known to have a nuclear weapon capacity along with the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, India and Pakistan.

Statistics from the Melbourne-based Uranium Information Center showed that by January 2007, 57 countries operate civil research reactors, and 30 have 435 commercial nuclear power reactors with a total installed capacity of over 370,000 MWe. This is more than three times the total generating capacity of France and Germany from all sources.

Some 30 further power reactors are under construction, equivalent to six percent of the existing capacity while over 60 are firmly planned, equivalent to 18 percent of the present capacity.

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