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WSJ: China Says Violated Sanctions

March 7, 2001

NEW YORK (AP) _ Chinese officials have admitted that three Chinese telecommunications companies were violating U.N. sanctions by working in Iraq, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

China has told the United States that it ordered the companies to follow U.N. sanctions and stop doing business in Iraq, the Journal reported, citing a senior U.S. official.

But Chinese officials, speaking Monday to U.S. Ambassador Joseph Prueher in Beijing, also denied Pentagon allegations that the companies were upgrading Iraq’s air defense system. They said the three companies were doing civilian work, albeit without clearance from the United Nations.

The report is the latest development in a nearly three-week-old controversy over whether China was helping Iraq install fiber-optic communications cable at military sites in violation of U.N. sanctions.

U.S. military officials said the Chinese were reportedly working at some of the air defense sites around Baghdad targeted by U.S. and British jets in a Feb. 16 raid. China has publicly denied the U.S. claims, saying an official Chinese investigation disproved the reports.

U.N. sanctions imposed after Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait ban military and many civilian sales to Iraq. Washington and London said they struck Iraqi defense sites in the February raids because Iraq was improving its ability to track and target planes patrolling a ``no fly zone″ imposed after the Gulf War.

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