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The weakest link

The Associated Press has an in-depth report on how Taiwan is a loophole in the international sanctions regime against Iran.

Early last year, a Taiwan company shipped 108 pressure gauges to Iran, after ordering them from Switzerland for a Chinese client.

Such gauges have civilian nuclear energy use. But the Nuclear Suppliers Group has put the equipment on its "watch list" of stuff banned for export to Iran, because of such gauges' possible use in a nuclear weapons program.

Taiwan says it complies voluntarily with Nuclear Suppliers Group export bans. But it's not an NSG member and so not bound to do so. The AP explains why:

"For more than 30 years, the island has been the orphan of the international community, denied membership in organizations like the United Nations because of China's insistence that it has no sovereign status of its own. The result has been a gaping lack of familiarity with push-button issues for the West — Iran among them — and a strong interest in building up the trade links that define its place in the world."