Insight Magazine Vol. 15, No. 34 -- September 13, 1999     
Published Date August 20, 1999, in Washington, D.C.               
China's Real Threat

By Rep. Christopher Cox
The chairman of the recent House select committee on Chinese espionage details the national-security implications of the theft of top U.S. nuclear-weapons technology.

In two Insight articles -- "Check Your Facts: Cox Report Bombs" (Aug. 9) and "Cohen Fires Back" (Aug. 30) -- Samuel Cohen wrote about the report issued by the House Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People's Republic of China, which I chaired, and the select committee's study of the transfer of military technology to the People's Republic of China, or PRC. If any good can come of Cohen's opinions, it is that they provide an opportunity to emphasize the urgency of the problems uncovered by recent congressional investigations.
. . . . Cohen asserts that whether the PRC stole the most advanced U.S. nuclear-weapons technology does not matter. "On what basis," he asks, "does the Chinese possession of the world's best thermonuclear-warhead technology make U.S. security meaningfully less secure?"
. . . . The select committee found several reasons to be concerned on this score:
. . . . 1) The People's Liberation Army, or PLA, now can put several miniaturized warheads on a single missile, geometrically multiplying their nuclear force.
. . . . 2) The PLA now can put nuclear weapons on submarines. Since submarines are invisible -- unlike missile silos -- the United States no longer can take out the PLA's nuclear weapons in an emergency. This gives the PRC a first-strike option against virtually every nation in the Pacific region.
. . . . 3) The PLA now can deploy mobile nuclear weapons, which also can survive a U.S. strike.
. . . . 4) The PRC gains vast political leverage in the Pacific region by effectively neutralizing U.S. nuclear deterrence.
. . . . The impact of these developments on U.S. allies already is clear. The PRC is now militarily threatening both Taiwan and the Philippines. The PRC also is assisting North Korea's missile and space programs, which threaten Japan, South Korea and U.S. forces in the Pacific.
. . . . Cohen's argument seems to be that nuclear-weapons security does not matter. We are fortunate that almost no policymaker shares his lack of concern about PRC theft of design information for our most sophisticated nuclear weapons.
. . . . Cohen further writes that it "flies in the face" of logic to assert that Russia, China, France and Israel have not deployed a neutron bomb. Cohen is entitled to his opinion, but the latest top-secret information provided by the U.S. intelligence community, upon which the select committee's report is based, indicates otherwise.
. . . . In his Aug. 9 article, Cohen implies that the select committee said the W-70 warhead was a neutron bomb. In his Aug. 30 article, he asserts that implication as fact. The text of our report speaks for itself: "On two occasions, the PRC has stolen classified U.S. information about neutron-bomb warheads from a U.S. national weapons laboratory. The United States learned of these thefts of classified information on the neutron bomb in 1996 and in the late 1970s, when the first theft -- including design information on the W-70 warhead occurred. The W-70 warhead contains elements that may be used either as a strategic thermonuclear weapon or as an enhanced radiation weapon ('neutron bomb')."
. . . . In other words, elements of the W-70 warhead are configurable either as a neutron bomb or a "conventional" nuclear weapon. The details of how this works are classified but, contrary to Cohen's assertion, the committee did not state "that the W-70 is a neutron bomb." The select committee stands by its report.
. . . . Cohen also questions the report's statement that U.S. designs for small nuclear warheads are "the most advanced in the world" because he suspects that perhaps Russia may have such weapons. The departments of Defense and Energy amply have documented to Congress that the W-88 is the world's most sophisticated miniaturized nuclear warhead and Russia does not have such warheads.
. . . . Not only our aggregation of reporting by the intelligence community about past events but also our predictions as to future PRC actions have been vindicated since the issuance of the select-committee report on Jan. 3. On July 15, the PRC admitted for the first time that it possesses a neutron bomb. And on Aug. 2, the PRC tested its new Dong Feng-31 intercontinental ballistic missile -- just as the report alerted the Congress it might.
. . . . There was a simple reason that nine senior members of Congress, including liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans, voted unanimously after six months of closed proceedings that vital U.S. military technology was lost to the most powerful communist government on earth: It happened.
. . . .  
. . . . Rep. Christopher Cox is chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee. He also serves on three subcommittees of the Commerce Committee: Finance and Hazardous Materials, Oversight and Investigations, and Telecommunications.

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