The State Department promised on Monday to impose sanctions against Chinese companies that export missiles and missile technology in violation of U.S. law.

Spokesman Richard Boucher made the statement following a report that a state-run Chinese company has sent a dozen shipments of missile components to Pakistan in violation of Beijing's recent pledge not to support nuclear missile programs.

The Washington Times said the China National Machinery & Equipment Import & Export Corp., known as CMEC, supplied the missile components for Pakistan's Shaheen-1 and Shaheen-2 missile programs. The account cited reports by intelligence officials familiar with the issue.

The Times said U.S. spy satellites detected the latest shipment as it arrived by truck at the mountainous Chinese-Pakistani border May 1.

It was one of 12 missile component transfers sent by ship and truck detected by U.S. intelligence agencies since the beginning of the year, the story said.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher noted that U.S. negotiators reached an agreement with China in November of 2000 under which China pledged not to assist any country with missiles and missile technology development.

"We expect the Chinese to abide by that agreement," Boucher said, adding that the United States will fulfill its part if the Chinese are complying. He declined to comment on the Times story.

He noted that U.S. law requires that sanctions be imposed against entities that engage in certain transfers.

"That is certainly not our preferred course, although we would certainly follow U.S. law if it came to that," Boucher said.

During the late July visit of Secretary of State Colin Powell to China, the two sides agreed to hold consultations on nonproliferation issues.

At the time, Powell described China's record on nonproliferation as mixed but declined further comment.