REPORTS SEES CHINA NUKE BUILDUP
Updated 9:42 AM ET August 10, 2000
By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - A new U.S. intelligence report predicts China would accelerate its nuclear arms buildup if the United States erected a national defense against long-range missiles.
The prediction, in a classified report known as a National Intelligence Estimate, was disclosed Wednesday by U.S. officials speaking on condition of anonymity. They said it is part of a broader assessment of how foreign countries might respond to a U.S. decision to go ahead with a national missile defense.
President Clinton has said he would decide soon whether to authorize the initial steps toward deploying a network of missile interceptors, missile-tracking radars and battle management computers to defend all 50 states against a small-scale nuclear attack. China is among the few nations capable of a nuclear strike on the United States.
In making his decision, Clinton has said he would take into account four main factors: the urgency of the missile threat, the cost of a missile defense, the feasibility of building a reliable defense and the implications for U.S. foreign policy, including responses from China and other nations.
China and Russia are strongly opposed to the U.S. plan, arguing it would undercut the deterrent value of their nuclear arsenals, violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and undermine global stability. As well, many U.S. allies in Europe are leery.
Clinton and his national security aides have tried, with little apparent success, to convince China's leaders that a U.S. national missile defense would not be directed against China's nuclear missile capability. A defensive system, they contend, would be for "rogue" nations like North Korea and Iran that are pursuing intercontinental ballistic missile technologies and might not be deterred by U.S. nuclear threats.
Separately, an unclassified CIA report released Wednesday said China increased its missile technology assistance to Pakistan last year and also had a hand in missile development in North Korea, Iran and Libya. The report said, "The Chinese have taken a VERY NARROW interpretation of their nonproliferation commitment."
The spread of missile technology is at the heart of the Clinton administration's justification for developing a missile defense.
The fear is not only of an attack but also of the possibility that a country like Iraq - if armed with a missile capable of striking a U.S. city - might try to use the threat of an attack to persuade the United States to stay out of a regional crisis such as a conflict in the Persian Gulf.
U.S. OFFICIALS WHO ARE FAMILIAR WITH THE CLASSIFIED INTELLIGENCE REPORT SAID IT STATES THAT CHINA PLANS TO INCREASE ITS NUCLEAR ARSENAL REGARDLESS OF U.S. NATIONAL MISSILE DEFENSE PLANS . However, it adds that the increase likely would be sped up if a missile defense were built.
"Would they probably accelerate it? YES," said one official.
Additions to China's nuclear arsenal probably would be modest, the report said, and designed to give China a numerical edge over the U.S. missile defense system, which in its initial configuration might overcome a couple dozen incoming missiles.
The New York Times reported Thursday that the intelligence report estimates that China might increase its arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles from the current 20 to as many as 200 by 2015, and that this might prompt India and Pakistan to respond with their own nuclear arms buildups.
The Times also said the report predicts that deployment of a U.S. national missile defense could prompt Russia to resume placing multiple warheads on missiles that now carry only one - a practice Russia agreed to stop as part of the START II nuclear arms reduction pact that it ratified this year.
The CIA said last year that China has about 20 long-range nuclear missiles capable of reaching any part of U.S. territory. It said then that China was likely to test within the next several years a longer range missile capable of being fired from a mobile platform, and that it would be targeted mainly at the United States.
The classified report also affirms an intelligence estimate of September 1999 that the United States most likely will face a missile threat by 2015 from North Korea, probably from Iran and possibly from Iraq, the officials said.
The report also predicts Russia would continue reducing the number of missiles in its nuclear force, which has been eroded in recent years by a lack of money. Russian officials have warned that they would feel compelled to respond to a U.S. missile defense, possibly by withdrawing from major arms control agreements.
You were saying Bori331...
CHINA SPY PROBE SHIFTS TO MISSILE TECHNOLOGY
Updated 1:59 AM ET October 19, 2000
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. intelligence agencies have altered their investigation into Chinese espionage after a fresh review of Chinese military documents showed China had a greater interest in U.S. missile technology than in nuclear weapons secrets, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.
The shift came after 13,000 pages of Chinese documents provided by a defector in 1995 were finally fully translated this year, the paper quoted senior U.S. officials as saying.
Hampered by disputes among agencies, partisan pressures from Congress, and an apparently mistaken decision to focus on former U.S. government physicist Wen Ho Lee, the CIA and other government investigators were slow to review the full pile of secret Chinese documents, the officials told the Post.
It quoted one senior law enforcement official as saying that the failure amounts to a major blunder.
From 1996 until late last year, the FBI probe centered on the suspected loss of U.S. nuclear warhead data. It quickly narrowed into an investigation of Lee, a researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, the Post said.
But now the FBI -- which never found evidence that Lee spied for China -- is examining the Defense Department and its private contractors, spurred by data showing that during the 1980s, Beijing gathered a large amount of classified information about U.S. ballistic missiles and reentry vehicles.
The missile secrets were far more likely to have come from defense officials or missile builders than from Los Alamos or other U.S. nuclear weapons labs, officials told the Post.
Lee has pleaded guilty to one of the 59 felony counts initially brought against him for downloading nuclear secrets onto an unclassified system and then onto portable tapes. The plea bargain set Lee free from jail and requires him to tell government investigators what happened to tapes he made that are missing.
For years, the FBI, CIA and Energy Department have been investigating whether China stole the designs of advanced nuclear warheads from the United States, and if so, whether Beijing was aided by U.S. spies.
The CIA concluded several years ago that the defector who supplied the documents was a Chinese double agent, casting doubt on the information he delivered and delaying its translation from Mandarin to English.
But the FBI, which has interviewed the defector in the United States, believes that he is legitimate, the Post said.
The documents, smuggled out of China through DHL, the private package delivery company, appear to be a five-year "strategic plan" for development of China's new generation of missiles, a former official who reviewed the documents told the Post.
When the defector first delivered the materials, a senior U.S. official said, the CIA read and translated the titles of each major portion, then ordered a full translation of a 76-page section dealing with data on U.S. nuclear warheads.
The agency did not perform a "counterintelligence review" to determine whether the documents contained classified data on U.S. missiles and warheads, the official was quoted as saying.
In 1997, a team led by former CIA deputy director Richard Kerr reviewed the small portion of translated material. Kerr felt it showed "how very aggressively the Chinese were pursuing U.S. secrets," the Post quoted one participant as saying.
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