CHINA'S THEFT OF NUCLEAR SECRETS

Senate Floor Statement
March 15, 1999

[U.S. Senator James M. Inhofe -- Floor Statement]

 

Mr. President, I want you to listen.  I am going to tell you a story of espionage, conspiracy, deception and cover-up; a story with life and death implications for millions of Americans; a story about national security and a President and an administration that deliberately chose to put national security at risk, while telling the people everything was fine.

If it was written in a book, it wouldn't sell, because no one would believe it.   If it was fictionalized in a novel, few could conceive it.  But it is true.

Now for the sake of my statement today, I am stating that the President withheld information and covered up the Chinese theft of our technology.  But I'm realistic enough to know that a person with the history of deception this president has will have provided himself with some cover in case he gets caught.  So I'm sure there is a paper trail that he can allege.  The way the President probably covered himself was to include tidbits about this theft buried in briefings on 40 or 50 others items, so the significance of it would not be noticed.  But a paper trail would be established.

Anticipating that, I talked to the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Porter Goss, and the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee at the time of the discovery of this information, Sen. Arlen Specter.  Neither chairman was notified of the W-88 nuclear warhead technology theft. And these would have been the first to be notified.  There can be no doubt that President Clinton engaged in a cover up scheme.

Let me read three paragraphs from last week's op-ed article by Michael Kelly in the Washington Post, entitled "Lies About China."

In April 1996, Energy Department officials informed Samuel Berger, then Clinton's deputy national security advisor, that Notra Trulock, the department's chief of intelligence, had uncovered evidence that showed China had learned how to miniaturize nuclear bombs, allowing for smaller, more lethal warheads...

The Times reports that the House Intelligence Committee asked Trulock for a briefing in July 1998.  Trulock asked for permission from Elizabeth Moler, then acting energy secretary.  According to Trulock, Moler told him not to brief the committee because the information might be used against Clinton's China policy...   The White House's secret would have remained secret had it not been for a select investigative committee headed by Republican Christopher Cox...

But even using the President's fictitious paper trail, the earliest either chairman could have known about it would have been late spring of 1997, years after the Clinton administration learned of it and, of course, after the 1996 elections.

I start, Mr. President, by listing a few things which we now know to be true, factual, incontrovertible...and not classified.

For years, the Clinton administration covered-up China's theft of top secret U.S. nuclear weapons data. They never informed the Congress or American people about what had happened or its significance to our national security.

Let me tell you what President Clinton did during this period time:

During this period of time, the President misled the American people on numerous occasions about the threat posed by strategic nuclear missiles in the post cold war era.

During this period of time, President Clinton made statements on over 130 separate occasions, such as the following:  For the first time since the dawn of the nuclear age, there is not a single solitary nuclear missile pointed at an American child tonight. Not one. Not a single one.

During this period of time, he knew that China was targeting up to 18 intercontinental ballistic missiles at American children.

During this period of time, President Clinton signed export control waivers which allowed his top campaign fundraisers aerospace company to transfer sensitive U.S. missile guidance technology to China.

During this period of time, he shifted the prime satellite export responsibility from the State Department to the Commerce Department, making it easier for China and others to get sensitive military-related U.S. technology.

During this period of time, President Clinton hosted over 100 White House fundraisers as part of a larger aggressive scheme to raise campaign contributions, many from illegal foreign sources, primarily including sources in China.  Among guests permitted to attend these White House fundraisers were a convicted felon and a Chinese arms dealer.

During this period of time, John Huang, Charlie Trie, Johnny Chung, James Riady and others with strong ties to China were deeply involved, with the President's knowledge, in raising Chinese-tainted campaign cash for the Clinton campaign.

During this period of time, John Huang, who had been given a security clearance without a background check, was permitted to receive numerous classified CIA briefings, both during and after his stay at the Commerce Department.

--And during this period of time, President Clinton was successfully stopping the deployment of a national missile defense system, exposing every American life to a missile attack, leaving us with no defense against an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Mr. President, China's theft of secret data on the so-called "W-88" nuclear warhead may be one of the most serious breaches of national security in our lifetimes.....More serious than Aldrich Ames.  Perhaps more serious than the Rosenbergs.

The public needs to understand that this story is true.  This is not about partisanship. This is not about some ancient history of some long gone Cold War.

This is about the real world here and now.  This is about national security in its most important aspects.  This is about protecting our freedom and our existence as a nation.  This is ultimately a matter which concerns the life and death of every citizen.

The W-88 is the most advanced nuclear warhead in the U.S. arsenal and is carried on top of Trident SLBMs (submarine-launched ballistic missiles).

This is the cornerstone weapon of our nation's nuclear deterrent.  As many as eight of them can fit atop our submarine-launched missiles.  As many as ten can be put atop our largest land-based missiles...or on China's land based missiles.

We are talking about a miniaturized warhead--Much smaller in size than the Hiroshima atom bomb but ten times more powerful.

As you can see from the chart, which appeared in the NY Times, Mar. 6, 1999, the Hiroshima bomb was huge and unwieldy.  It was 10 and a half feet long and weighed over 4 tons - 8,900 pounds.

By contrast, the modern W-88 warhead is compact.  It is only 2 and a half feet long and weighs only 300 pounds, but is at least 10 times more powerful.

The technology on which it is built is super top secret and represents billions of dollars and years, if not decades, of investment on the part of dedicated scientists and engineers working in the supreme American national interest.

Some might ask why does America have this weapon?  Because it is part of our responsibility as a world superpower to have the most advanced, efficient and credible nuclear deterrent, not only to protect our own freedom, but that of our allies as well.

It is part of our policy of "peace through strength".  While we do not intend to ever use nuclear weapons, it is a fact of life in a dangerous world that we must be prepared to deter any potential adversary and any potential weapon any adversary may have.

The W-88 allows for multiple warheads to be placed on one missile.  With this technology, China will now be able to put up to ten warheads on a single long range missile.  Each warhead targeted at a different city.  Each city subject to an explosion 10 times as great as that which destroyed Hiroshima at the end of WWII.

You know, Mr. President, I'm from Oklahoma.  In 1995, a 4,800 pound truck bomb exploded outside the Murrah Federal Office Building in Oklahoma City.  The building was destroyed, 168 people were killed, and 674 were wounded.  This was a horrible event, the worst act of terrorism ever on American soil.  That bomb had a force of 1,000 pounds (one-half of one ton) of TNT.

By way of contrast, the Hiroshima atom bomb had an explosive force of 15 kilotons (or 30,000 times as large as the Oklahoma City bomb.  The W-88, while smaller in physical size, has a force of 150 kilotons (or 300,000 times as large as the Oklahoma City bomb).   And by carrying 10 of these on one missile, 3 million times the force for the Oklahoma City bomb.

The more compact W-88 warhead makes possible what is called MIRV (multiple independent reentry vehicle) technology, something China was thought to be many, many years away from developing on its own.  And they stole this technology and President Clinton covered it up.

We also used to think North Korea was many years away from building long range multiple-stage rockets.

Listen, Mr. President: On Aug. 24 last year, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Henry Shelton, wrote me a letter saying he was confident we would have 3 years warning of any new long range missile threat.  Seven days later, on Aug. 31, North Korea launched a three-stage Taepo Dong I missile, that scattered a small payload off the coast of Alaska.

All of this only confirms what the Rumsfeld Report explained to us last year.  We remember the Rumsfeld Commission which was chaired by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.  This bipartisan commission, appointed jointly by Republicans and Democrats, included nine of the nation's most distinguished, qualified and informed experts in the field of assessing foreign missile threats. They concluded unanimously that when it comes to advanced missiles and weapons, with countries willing to buy, sell and steal technology, we live in an environment of little or no warning.  Which means we must immediately be prepared.

Last year, you may remember how it was revealed that the Clinton Administration had changed the approval process for high technology satellite transfers and how waivers were granted for American companies so they could launch satellites in China.  This ultimately resulted in China acquiring advanced US missile guidance technology, making their missiles more accurate and more reliable.  President Clinton personally signed the waiver allowing China to acquire this missile technology.  Let me repeat, President Clinton personally signed the waiver allowing China to acquire this missile technology.

Executives of these two corporations that benefitted Loral and Hughes were among the largest financial contributors to President Clinton's campaign effort.  But this is not important, Mr. President, because the motive for aiding and abetting our adversaries could be money, or it could be some kind of perverted allegiance to these countries, or it could be a total indifference to the security of the lives of Americans.  The motive is not important.  The fact is President Clinton did it and he knew exactly what he was doing.