Chinese nuclear spy scare was a crock from the beginning. Typically,
the most ridiculous articles appeared in The New York
Times. Reporters regularly spluttered about "one of the
most damaging spy cases in recent history." They fulminated
at alleged government inaction. And they repeatedly called for
"arrests." But who was to be arrested? What exactly
had the Chinese done?
as it may be for our superannuated Cold Warriors to grasp this,
China has been a nuclear power since 1964. It really makes not
the slightest bit of difference if China acquires a few more missiles
or smaller warheads or more accurate guidance systems. No one
is thereby less secure than before. Since China stubbornly refuses
to engage in aggressive behavior against anyone, it is reasonable
to assume that its nuclear missiles are weapons of last resort.
As nuclear powers go, China, after all, is very much of the second-division
sort. At present it has 20 intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The United States has about 5000. China also stopped nuclear testing
is very flattering for Americans to assume that no one in the
world could possibly develop nuclear weapons other than through
stealing their secrets. But where are Chinas spies? Back
in the Cold War, the FBI used to pick up a Soviet spy a day. So
who is spying for Beijing? Last May a House select committee chaired
by Rep. Christopher Cox published a report with this startling
conclusion: "The Peoples Republic of China (PRC) has
stolen classified design information on the United States
most advanced thermonuclear weapons... The successful penetration
by the PRC of our nuclear weapons laboratories has taken place
over the last several decades, and almost certainly continues
to the present."
stuff. But what is the evidence for this? Who penetrated our nuclear
laboratories? What exactly was stolen? The Cox committee could
come up with nothing better than again Wen Ho Lee (even though
it did not name him) and again the W-88
claims are extremely dubious. Back in 1995 a Chinese official
approached the CIA and handed over a Chinese document dated 1988.
It described the countrys nuclear weapons program and allegedly
mentioned the W-88, describing some of the warheads key
design features. The CIA later decided that the official was working
for Chinese intelligence all along. This was a reasonable assumption.
Spies regularly approach the intelligence services of foreign
powers with "information" about supposed "penetration."
The aim is to sow confusion and to divert attention from real
spies to nonexistent ones.
Chinese succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Since 1995 Americans
have been obsessing about the "penetration" of Los Alamos
even though there was not a scrap of evidence that it had taken
all the overheated bluster about the alleged ultramodern W-88
design, it is actually 30 years old. Last June President Clintons
Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board reported that technical information
about the W-88 "had been widely available within the U.S.
nuclear weapons community" as early as 1983. Much of the
information about U.S. nuclear weapons systems is available on
websites. Indeed, recently the FBI took to publicly complaining
that Chinese espionage is difficult to investigate because the
Chinese often take advantage of scientific exchanges and many
other forms of informal contacts. Apparently, they gather sensitive
information from such a wide range of sources that it is often
difficult to pinpoint exactly how American secrets leaked out.
The scoundrels going to conferences and seminars to find
out what U.S. scientists are up to!
why is Lee being persecuted? For Clinton, scapegoating Lee is
very convenient. First, it distracts attention from the 1996 election
fundraising scandal. Cracking down on alleged Chinese "spies"
ensures that Al Gore will not be troubled by questions about his
having accepted money from the Chinese government. Second, if
Lee had spied for the Chinese then he must have been doing it
back in the 1980s. Consequently, the "loss" of Americas
secrets can be blamed on Reagan and Bush.
the ludicrous story of Chinese "penetration" of our
laboratories has served to swamp the real story. It was the Clinton
administration itself that revealed to the world most of Americas
nuclear "secrets." As William Broad explained it in
the Times: "Back in 1993...the Administration decided
that the best way to keep the nuclear arms race from heating up
again was to get the worlds nations to sign a test-ban treaty.
The idea was that even if a country knew how to make a bomb, it
couldnt perfect new ones...without physically testing new
designs. So development of new weapons would be frozen... Releasing
many of Americas nuclear secrets was seen as an essential
part of this strategy, since it would signal a new global order
in which nuclear know-how was suddenly and irreparably devalued."
60-year-old man sits in a prison cell in New Mexico and faces
the prospect of never coming out again. He is paying a heavy price
for Clintons slimy political maneuverings. Sadly, he is
not the first nor will he be the last person to do so.