China's Theft of Nuclear Secrets
Senator James M. Inhofe
March 15, 1999


Senate Floor Statement
March 15, 1999

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.

Now coupling the transferred missile guidance technology with the stolen nuclear weapon technology, China can threaten US cities with accurate, reliable and horribly destructive multiple warhead nuclear missiles.

This is not science fiction fantasy, Mr. President. Two years ago, a high ranking Chinese official actually said that China was prepared to hit Los Angeles if the US would take steps to defend Taiwan. No American should assume these are idle or impossible threats.

Now by helping China develop their long range missile program, President Clinton was also helping North Korea and other rogue nations with theirs. Let me read three paragraphs from last week’s Washington Times article entitled, "China Assists North Korea Space Launches.”

"China is sharing space technology with North Korea, a move that could boost Pyongyang’s long range missile program, White House and Pentagon officials told The Washington Times...”

"Another Pentagon report on a 1996 Chinese booster that failed to launch a U.S. satellite concluded that ‘U.S. national security was harmed’ by the improper sharing of technology with China by Hughes and another satellite maker, Loral Space & Communications Ltd...”

Keep in mind, President Clinton signed the waiver to give the Chinese this technology. The article concludes:
"In 1994, the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency reported that it believed China had helped design the Taepodong 2 missile (this is the North Korean missile) because its first stage diameter is very close in size to China’s CSS-2 intermediate range missiles.”
So it is factual to say that President Clinton knew he was giving our missile technology to North Korea as well as China.

I take this moment to remind my colleagues once again that America today has no defense whatsoever against such a threat. The Clinton administration today–despite its rhetoric--opposes to the deployment of any national missile defense system.

It was 16 years ago this month, on March 23, 1983, that President Reagan announced his intention to develop a national missile defense system to protect America. We have come a long way since then. Our technology has improved, we know what to do to meet this challenge.

Had we kept steadily on the course the President Reagan set, we would have a missile defense system deployed right now. Instead, we have an Administration which killed the Reagan-Bush Strategic Defense Initiative program, which vetoed missile defense bills passed by Congress and which is wedded to the outdated ABM Treaty, which Henry Kissinger, the architect of the treaty says has outlived its usefulness.

Clinton today is obsessed with maintaining the philosophy of the old ABM Treaty at all costs. He is locked into the mentality of a world with two lone superpowers–the United States and the Soviet Union.

The theory is that if both sides keep their populations defenseless, then neither side would dare attack out of fear of a devastating retaliation. This is what they call mutual assured destruction (MAD). It is a theory that Dr. Kissinger believes makes no sense in the modern world where many countries are getting their hands on long range missiles and weapons of mass destruction.

President Clinton is solely responsible for the fact that we are totally defenseless against an incoming ICBM from China or anywhere else.

>From news reports, this is some of what we know about China’s theft of our nuclear secrets:

Apparently a spy at the Energy Dept’s Los Alamos weapons lab succeeded in transferring data on this highly classified W-88 warhead technology to China in the mid-1980s.

But our government did not find out about it until April 1995. (This is a critical date. We did not know about the theft until April 1995.) Detection came when experts analyzed data from then-recent Chinese underground nuclear tests and saw remarkable similarities to the W-88 U.S. warhead. Later in 1995, secret Chinese government documents confirmed that there had been a security breach at Los Alamos. 1995.

Deputy National Security Advisor Sandy Berger was first briefed about it in 1996. President Clinton did not respond then because he was obviously a little preoccupied with what he considered more important matters at that time.

After all, there were White House fundraisers to host, foreign campaign contributions, satellite transfers to approve, high technology trade with China to promote, and–of course-- an election to be all costs. Mr. Berger was well aware of all this. We know he sat in on all the key campaign strategy meetings in 1996.

This was also the time when President Clinton was running around the country telling audiences that "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.”

Of course, everyone cheered, believing it to be true.

Of all the lies this president has told, this is the most egregious of all.

He repeated this misleading, deceptive lie over 130 times between 1995 and 1997, right at the very time he and his national security advisors knew that this horrible breach of nuclear security had occurred and was under investigation. It was also at that very time that he knew that up to 18 American cities were being targeted by Chinese long range missiles–missiles that had and have the potential of killing millions of Americans.

And during this time he said it 130 times: "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.”

So while the American people consumed his misleading and dishonest public statements--helping to secure his reelection–nothing was done for over a year about the security breach at Los Alamos.

The likely suspect spy was identified in early 1997, and the FBI urged that he at least be transferred to a less sensitive position.

But inexplicably, he was allowed to keep his sensitive job at Los Alamos for another year and a half. This was the spy responsible for the theft and President Clinton kept him in that sensitive job for another year and half. Finally, he was fired by Energy Secretary Richardson last Monday (March 8, 1999), but only after he was publicly identified in news reports as having failed two previous lie detector tests.

In all of this, was Congress ever informed? No. As a member of the Armed Services and Intelligence Committees, I certainly was not. And as I said earlier, I talked to the chairman of both the House Intelligence Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee and they were not informed.

Did the President ever take the appropriately aggressive and timely steps which should have been taken to protect the national security interest, in the wake of this matter? He did not.

Why? Why the delays? Why the lack of consultation and communication? Why the seeming indifference to this very, very serious breach of national security?

We will be asking some tough questions about this in the days ahead, and I note that the Armed Services Committee will be holding hearings on this issue soon. The Senate Intelligence Committee will hold a closed hearing on Wed. Mar. 17.

The American people need to know what is going on here.

The President’s National Security Advisor, Mr. Berger, has a lot to answer for here. He had better be prepared to answer questions from members of Congress honestly, forthrightly and without intention to deceive, mislead, or change the meaning of words. Otherwise, he should resign now and take the rap for President Clinton.

I am convinced we have not yet scratched the surface of this national security scandal exposed by these most recent revelations.

This administration obviously wanted nothing to interfere with developing good relations with China. While it was soliciting and accepting campaign contributions from China, it was dragging its feet on investigating the most egregious espionage operation China had ever succeeded in pulling off in the U.S., a breach of security which could potentially put the lives of millions of Americans at great risk.

This is without doubt the worst example yet of how this administration has put its own selfish motives above the national security interest of the country and above the protection of American lives.

The American people and the Congress must demand the President be held accountable for this gross dereliction of duty.

I guess the question is, what can we do? I’m not sure there is anything we can do except inform the American people and let public outrage solve the problem. And why are we in Congress so limited in what we can do?

The Founding Fathers never envisioned we would have a president who would do these kinds of things and act in these ways. This is why the Constitution gives the president great latitude of action in carrying out his duties and why he is protected from the other branches of government by the separation of powers.

John Adams, on his first night in the newly constructed White House, wrote to his wife, and spoke of the expectations of all the founders during that time: "May none but honest and wise men rule under this roof,” he wrote.

There was an assumption the American people would always elect presidents with a basic level of morality, honesty and integrity, who out of patriotism would always put the welfare of the country above any personal ambitions for power or glory.

This president knew he was covering up information vital to the safety and well-being of every American–that China had stolen from us the advanced technology which would give them the capability to kill millions of Americans in multiple cities with just one missile. He knew it.

In 1945, World War II was ended when atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Each explosion destroyed an entire city, killing tens of thousands. The death toll at Hiroshima was about 75,000 from that 15 kiloton nuclear bomb.

Just think...that with the technology that the President has transferred to China and what China has stolen and the President has covered up, China is now capable of producing a 150 kiloton bomb small enough to fit ten of them on top of one missile, each bomb targeted at a different American city with accuracy and reliability. Just extrapolating the numbers, that--in theory--is enough destructive power to kill as many as 7,500,000 Americans–with just one missile.

And, due to this president who stopped our national missile defense effort, we have no defense. We have a president who acts as if he doesn’t care...about us.

So finally, Mr. President, let me repeat the six proven incontrovertible facts:

1. President Clinton hosted over 100 campaign fundraisers in the White House, many with Chinese connections.

2. President Clinton used John Huang, Charlie Trie, Johnny Chung, James Riady, and others with strong Chinese ties to raise campaign money.

3. President Clinton signed waivers to allow his top campaign fundraiser’s aerospace company to transfer U.S. missile guidance technology to China.

4. President Clinton covered up the theft of our most valuable nuclear weapons technology.

5. President Clinton lied to the American people over 130 times about our nation’s security while he knew Chinese missiles were aimed at American children.

6. President Clinton single-handedly stopped the deployment of a national missile defense system, exposing every American life to a missile attack, leaving America with no defense whatsoever against an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Again, it doesn’t matter whether President Clinton did these things for Chinese campaign contributions because the motive for aiding and abetting our adversaries is not important. The fact is President Clinton did it and he knew exactly what he was doing.

I’m not a lawyer, Mr. President, but I have to ask, could President Clinton have been tried for impeachment for the wrong crime?

Why am I here telling the truth about the President? Because no one else will. They know this president will lie with such conviction that the American people will continue to believe him and they don’t want to take the risk.

Yesterday at the McLean Bible Church, the sermon was about risk. They all came back from Canaan with reports of certain defeat...except for Kaleb who said we could win. God left the Israelites to languish in the desert and sent Kaleb to the promised land. But with all these lessons we just don’t learn.

Henry Ward Beecher said it a different way. He siad, "I don’t like those cold precise people who in order not to say wrong, say nothing...and in order not to do wrong, do nothing.” So somebody has to tell the truth about this President....We can’t all be appeasers. An appeaser is a guy who throws his friends to the alligator in hopes that the alligator will eat him last.

Hiram Mann said, "No man survives when freedom fails, the best men rot in filthy jails, and those who cry appease, appease are hanged by those they tried to please.”

Truth will ultimately’s just stubborn. Winston Churchill said, "Truth is incontrovertible, ignorance can deride it, panic may resent it, malice may destroy it, but there it is.”

Mr. President, everything I have said during the course of the last 30 minutes is absolutely true. I hope America is listening. We’ve got a nation to save.