US targets suspected WMD firms

Washington has drafted a plan to halt the spread of weapons of mass destruction by targeting assets of anyone doing business with North Korean, Iranian and Syrian firms, suspected of working on weapons programmes.

    Iran, Syria and North Korea are the targets of the plan

    The new tool would authorise "the blocking or 'freezing' of

    assets of WMD proliferators and their supporters, and thereby

    prohibiting US persons from engaging in transactions with

    them", 

    The Washington Post reported on Monday,

    citing an internal government

    memo.

    According to the newspaper, the measure was outlined in a

    "WMD Proliferation Financing Executive Order" that

    administration officials hope President George Bush will

    sign before attending the Group of Eight summit in Gleneagles,

    Scotland, on Saturday.

    Officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the

    order's success would rely heavily on US intelligence. 

    List of targets

    A government list obtained by the newspaper identified

    three North Korean companies, four Iranian and a Syrian

    government research facility as initial targets of the effort

    described in the draft executive order, the Post

    said.

    Three of the eight entities had been targeted previously by

    US sanctions, as had most Iranian agencies, the report said.

    The measure would also target the US assets of

    individuals or companies, including foreign banks, that do

    business with those on the list, the newspaper said.

    "If there is a bank in some European capital that is

    participating in working with one of the entities and that bank

    has some assets in the US, it is conceivable that some action

    could be taken to the bank's assets here," a senior official,

    with knowledge of the order's details, was quoted as saying.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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