Chinese Spying Called Worse than Kosovo
The Washington Times - March 22, 1999 - Joyce Howard Price
A leading Senate voice on defense issues yesterday described China's
theft of nuclear secrets a graver threat than Kosovo and urged that FBI
be placed in U.S. weapons labs.
"There have been a series of leaks, all
very serious ... and much more threatening to the national interest than Kosovo," Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, a Republican member of the Intelligence Committee, said yesterday on "Fox News Sunday."
He said he has asked FBI Director Louis J. Freeh to detail field officers to U.S. weapons laboratories and is "optimistic" this will be done. "We've got to change
of these labs. The atmosphere has to change to include
Clinton administration officials were put on the
yesterday by a Newsweek magazine report that the Chinese had succeeded
in "total penetration" of American weapons labs and had recovered two
unexploded U.S. cruise missiles from Afghanistan.
Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, whose department oversees the weapons
labs, called the "total penetration" claim "an over-exaggeration."
a lot of hysteria out there that is unfounded, but we will get to the
bottom with ongoing investigations of any future problems," he said on
"Meet the Press."
Mr. Richardson did not deny the accuracy of the
Newsweek report, which said CIA analysts -- responding to President
order for a preliminary "damage assessment" to determine just how much Beijing knows about U.S. nuclear technology -- found evidence the Chinese "have cracked even the most secret weapons labs."
According to Newsweek, U.S., officials investigating
Chinese espionage believe China, over the past two
decades, may have acquired design information about seven
U.S. nuclear warheads, including the neutron bomb
developed in the, early 1970s. They believe China may also
have stolen secrets about U.S. efforts to develop a nuclear
weapon able to create an electromagnetic pulse "that would
short out anything in an enemy nation that uses electricity,
The CIA and a team of top nuclear-weapons experts
came to these conclusions, Newsweek says, after CIA
analysts pored through data gleaned from U.S. espionage
against China. The material included years of
communications intercepts and revelations from a 1995
defector involved in China's nuclear Program.
The material -- much of it written in Chinese and never
read --had been stored in CIA computers and forgotten
about until now.
Newsweek said that when the CIA showed the evidence
to several nuclear-weapons experts "they practically
fainted, " The magazine quoted one unnamed U.S. official
close to the probe: "The Chinese penetration is total. They
are deep, deep into the labs' black programs."
Newsweek said that China recently obtained two U.S.
cruise missiles that failed to detonate in last fall's retaliatory
attack on terrorist Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. Those
weapons have sophisticated guidance and
The report closely follows the New York Times'
disclosure of a classified congressional intelligence report
that China obtained U.S. secrets for making compact
nuclear weapons for multiple-warhead missiles in the 1980s
from a Chinese-American scientist who worked at the Los
Alamos National Laboratory.
The Clinton administration has been criticized for a slow
response after the security breach, which took place in the
1980s, was discovered in 1995, China denies it engaged in
On NBC yesterday, Mr. Richardson confirmed there
was a "serious breach" of security at the Los Alamos lab,
that the Chinese got nuclear secrets and "damage" was
"The extent of the damage, the nuclear design of the W-88 [miniaturized
warhead] will be determined in the
CIA's damage assessment, he said.
Mr. Richardson said the Energy Department has, "taken
aggressive steps so that never happens again. " He
enumerated changes already made or in the works. He was
not asked about Mr. Kyl's call for FBI agents at the
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