Fallout from the China Spy Case

1-16 June 1999

Materials presented in chronological order.

Federation of American Scientists. Secrecy & Government Bulletin 79 (Jun. 1999). [http://www.fas.org/sgp/bulletin/index.html]

This issue of the FAS organ, written by Steven Aftergood, contains two items ("The Cox Committee and the Tsien Case" and "Chinese Espionage and the New York Times") which point out "errors" in the Cox report and in New York Times reporting surrounding Chinese nuclear espionage in the United States.

Eckholm, Eric. "China Detects Racism in U.S. Report on Spying." New York Times, 1 Jun. 1999. [http://www.nytimes.com]

On 31 May 1999, the information minister of China's State Council, Zhao Qizheng, called the Cox report "a tissue of half-truths, conjectures and lies." At a news conference, the minister "used an Internet hookup" to show that "detailed information" on U.S. "nuclear weapons was readily available from public sites.... [A] Web page of the Federation of American Scientists (http://www.fas.org) was shown on a screen as an operator scrolled through it, displaying technical descriptions of American warheads and missiles. But neither Internet sites like that nor books that Zhao [also] cited offer the secret design details at the center of the most serious espionage charges." See also, Michael Laris, "Chinese Surfer Downloads U.S. Nuclear Data." Washington Post, 1 Jun. 1999, A10.

A brief item in Federation of American Scientists, Secrecy & Government Bulletin 79 (Jun. 1999) notes the use by Chinese officials of the FAS Website, but comments that the site "does not provide detailed weapon designs that would enable readers to construct a nuclear weapon."

Tauscher, Ellen O. "Stop the Spies." Washington Post, 1 Jun. 1999, A15.

Representative Tauscher (D-CA) argues that the revelations about PRC spying at U.S. nuclear labs indicates a "systemic failure of our counterintelligence operation. It has lacked centralization and did not adequately address emerging threats in the post-Cold War paradigm. Our intelligence agencies also have failed to embrace new technologies. Just as our national labs lead the world in state-of-the-art technology, so too must our counterintelligence agencies lead the world in surveillance and verification measures."

U. S. Department of Energy. "Press Release -- Secretary of Energy Advisory Board Releases Report on Energy Department's Foreign Visits and Assignments Program: Board Calls Continued International Exchange Essential." 8 Jun 1999. [http://www.energy.gov]

On 8 June 1999, the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB) "released a report which concludes that broad scientific benefits of international collaborations" at DOE's "national laboratories make it essential to the scientific and technological strength of the United States. In addition, the report says that foreign national visitors and assignees can safely have managed access to DOE's laboratories and other facilities without jeopardizing national security."

Eilperin, Juliet, and Vernon Loeb. "Weapons Lab Reforms Backed." Washington Post, 10 Jun. 1999, A4. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

On 9 June 1999, the U.S. House of Representatives "unanimously adopted several measures" that would "tighten security and counterintelligence at U.S. weapons labs, bolster export controls and call on the administration to consider transferring the nation's nuclear weapons programs outside the Energy Department."

Gerth, Jeff. "U.S. Adds 6 Chinese Sites to List that Alerts Computer Sellers." New York Times, 10 Jun. 1999. [http://www.nytimes.com]

"In an effort to prevent sensitive technology from being used by the Chinese military, the Commerce Department has told exporters that shipments to six missile and nuclear sites in China will require Federal approval."

Risen, James. "Energy Secretary Delays Disciplining Staff Over Spy Case." New York Times, 10 Jun. 1999. [http://www.nytimes.com]

Dissatisfied with a DOE review that he "believed did not hold enough senior officials at Energy Department headquarters accountable for the blunders in the Los Alamos spy case," Secretary Bill Richardson "has ordered a new investigation" by the department's inspector general. Richardson will "delay any reprimands" until he sees the results of the new investigation.

Pincus, Walter. "Security Not a Priority For Bush Energy Chief: Breaches Have Led to Nuclear Lab Changes." Washington Post, 14 Jun. 1999, A14.

"When retired Adm. James D. Watkins took over the Energy Department in early 1989, then-President George Bush told him that security and safeguards at the department's nuclear weapons laboratories were 'a complete mess.'... Watkins instituted a study of security and beefed up some personnel rules and physical barriers. But the former chief of naval operations ... made his first priority restructuring responsibility within the department, particularly environmental, safety and health standards."

Special Investigative Panel. President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. Science at Its Best, Security at Its Worst: A Report on Security Problems at ther U.S. Department of Energy. [Released 15] June 1999. Available at: http://www.fas.org/sgp/library/pfiab/index.html.

Members of the PFIAB panel were Warren Rudman, chair and former U.S. Senator; Ann Z. Caracristi, former NSA deputy director; Sidney D. Drell, physicist, consultant, and chair of a University of California panel that helps manage the Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories; and Stephen Friedman, former chairman of Goldman, Sachs & Co.

Pincus, Walter. "Panel Urges Some Autonomy for Nuclear Weapons Program." Washington Post, 15 Jun. 1999, A2. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

The PFIAB report recommends "making the Energy Department's nuclear weapons functions semi-autonomous inside the department or splitting them off into an independent agency reporting directly to the White House."

Risen, James. "Report Scolds Bureaucracy for U.S. Nuclear Lab Lapses." New York Times, 15 Jun. 1999.

The PFIAB report "argues that the Energy Department has mishandled the nation's nuclear secrets for 20 years." The report, briefed to President Clinton on 14 June 1999, says that "Clinton administration initiatives to tighten security at nuclear weapons laboratories are not being carried out fully because of bureaucratic arrogance and foot-dragging."

U. S. Department of Energy. "Press Release -- Statement by Secretary of Energy Richardson on the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board Report." 15 Jun. 1999. [http://www.energy. gov]

"I agree with the Report's conclusion that serious change is needed in the department's organizational structure.... [But] I have strong reservations about the Board's recommendation to establish a semi-independent or independent agency for nuclear weapons matters."

New York Times. "[Editorial:] New Management for the Nuclear Labs." 16 Jun. 1999. [http://www.nytimes.com]

The Rudman panel has produced a "powerful, balanced report." Of the options identified for improving security at the U.S. nuclear labs "a fully independent agency accountable to the highest political authorities seems best."

Pincus, Walter. "Energy's Nuclear Arms Oversight Hit: Panel Suggests Possibly Taking Complex Out of Department Hands." Washington Post, 16 Jun. 1999, A18. [http://www. washingtonpost.com]

PFIAB's report "cited ... several examples of 'substantial problems in management' that the panel said have undermined security at the Energy Department and its nuclear weapons laboratories."

U. S. Department of Energy. "Press Release -- Richardson Selects Security 'Czar.'" 16 Jun. 1999. [http://www.energy.gov]

On 16 June 1999, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson "named General Eugene E. Habiger as the Director of a new high-level Office of Security and Emergency Operations. Habiger, who has been commander in chief of the U.S. Strategic Command, retired from the United States Air Force in 1998." See also, Jeff Gerth, "Retired General to Oversee Security for Nuclear Weapons Labs," New York Times, 17 Jun. 1999.

Forward to China 17 June-July 1999

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