- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 22, 2000

Al Gore has a lot riding on Madeleine Albright's emergency trip to China this week. The cover story for her flight to Beijing has something vaguely to do with North and South Korea but her real predicament is the recent publicity over China's escalating arms sales to Pakistan and other dangerous locations. If she can't throw a blanket over Beijing's arms smuggling between now and the election, Gore is in real trouble.
For some time, the American Intelligence Community has known that Chinese communist nuclear and missile arms smuggling has been increasing dramatically. By whatever means, this month private information from the administration relating to Chinese nuclear weapons and missile sales to Pakistan has made its way to MSNBC, The Washington Times and the Far Eastern Economic Review.
What we now know:
American military and intelligence officials now estimate Pakistan's nuclear strike capability is five times that of India. This represents an American reassessment in the order of 500 percent.
Right now, Communist China is secretly building a second M-class ballistic missile plant in Pakistan. When this comes on stream, it will be able to increase Pakistan's nuclear missile stockpile by an additional 100 percent.
What does this mean? Previously the United States had estimated that the balance of nuclear terror between Pakistan and India was roughly comparable, with India having something of a slight edge. Now, we have realized the tilt is much more dramatically toward Pakistan, perhaps as much as 5 to 1. Pakistan is not an enemy of the United States; the problem is its running conflict with India. When India's Parliament returns, we can anticipate a call by political figures in Delhi to match Pakistan, warhead for warhead, missile for missile. In short, the most dangerous part of the world is about to get a whole lot worse.
Second, we know that Communist China's military companies have provided Pakistan with the complete strategic weapons cycle: fissile materials, weaponization and missile delivery system. Whatever Pakistan has, it's stamped "Made in China" or, to a lesser extent, "Made in China, by way of North Korea." If Pakistan has 5 times as much offensive nuclear warfare capability as we thought it had, then Chinese proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is 5 times higher.
Third, if Chinese arms smuggling to Pakistan is fivefold what we originally estimated, how good are our estimates of Chinese nuclear arms sales to North Korea? Iran? Syria? Libya? Iraq? What about our estimates of Chinese germ warfare sales to Iran and other places? All our current estimates of Chinese proliferation to terrorist nations and others have to be labeled, "Suspect. To be re-assessed."
Finally, the PRC's past smuggling activities and its brazen present missile-building program in Pakistan demonstrate the complete bankruptcy of the Clinton-Gore administration's anti-proliferation efforts. Seven-and-a-half years of failure. Mr. Gore is already in trouble on proliferation. In 1992, he sponsored legislation, the "Gore-McCain Act" that would have penalized Chinese companies for selling cruise missiles to Iran. He has never explained why he has not enforced his own legislation, even once.
Here is where life gets very interesting for the secretary of state. This week she has to convince Beijing to stop its arms smuggling to terrorist nations and other hot spots, at least until Election Day. The M-class missile plant, now under construction, would be at the top of her "cease and desist" order. Because of all the Chinagate horrors associated with the administration, she has no credibility, no leverage, with the Chinese communists. Her only hope is to remind the Chinese that they want Al Gore to be elected president so their interests can be protected for another four years.
Lying in wait, ready to torpedo the entire affair, is Sen. Fred Thompson, Tennessee Republican. Permanent Normal Trading Relations, (PNTR) has passed the House and is pending in the Senate. Mr. Thompson has announced that when PNTR comes up for a vote, he will offer his "China Nonproliferation Act" as an amendment. The Thompson amendment would require the president to penalize Chinese entities for arms smuggling weapons of mass destruction, cruise missiles and other advanced conventional weapons.
For Chinese entities violating the Thompson amendment, they would be denied permission to sell stock on Wall Street, among a list of penalties. Former Reagan White House official Roger Robinson and his human rights allies recommended the Wall Street prohibition to Mr. Thompson. If implemented, it would cost the Chinese arms merchants much more than they derive from missile sales to Pakistan. Under the circumstances, it is hard to see how the Clinton-Gore administration could claim it is OK for Communist China to continue selling "End of the World"-type weapons to terrorist nations or other enemies of the United States.
As more and more of Beijing's arms smuggling surfaces in the newspapers and the Thompson Amendment becomes the pending business before the Senate, the Gore campaign has to hope Madeleine can pull off a miracle in Beijing.


Edward Timperlate and William C. Triplett II are the authors of "Red Dragon Rising," Regnery, 1999.

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