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Inside the Ring

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China's Sun Tzu secrecy

A classified State Department cable made public recently finally has shed some light on persistent Chinese military secrecy and its refusal to hold nuclear talks with the United States: China fears discussing its nuclear arsenal will weaken the deterrent value.

The cable, labeled "secret," recounts a June 4, 2008, meeting between U.S. and Chinese officials titled, "U.S.-China security dialogue working lunch" on strategic security, missile defense, space, arms proliferation and Iran.

Regarding nuclear arms, Richard Davison, at the time the Pentagon policy director for strategic capabilities, provided a detailed briefing to the Chinese on U.S. nuclear weapons and doctrine. He then asked his Chinese counterparts to provide "a comparable level of detail from the PRC on its nuclear modernization plans."

Among the topics the Pentagon wanted to discuss were "Beijing's threat perception, China's criteria for determining the size of its force and the desired end-state of China's nuclear force modernization."

Defense officials have said the Chinese for the past decade refused to provide such details on the nuclear arsenal, which remains shrouded in secrecy and is continuing to grow.

Mr. Davison said that "China is actually increasing the size of its nuclear force, even as the other four permanent members of the U.N. Security Council are cutting theirs."

The Chinese refused to talk. Chinese Navy Capt. Guan Youfei, a senior Defense Ministry official, declined to answer the Pentagon official's questions, saying only that China would hold a nuclear dialogue in the future. He repeated Beijing's long-stated policy of not being the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict.

China's Assistant Foreign Minister He Yafei then rejected the U.S. officials' calls for China to provide details on nuclear arms, claiming it is a "sensitive issue" and that the Chinese officials present "do not know the size of China's nuclear arsenal."

Mr. He then revealed why China opposes nuclear talks. "Now is not the time," he said, "for China to tell others what we have," adding that "if China reveals the size of its nuclear arsenal, this would eliminate its deterrent value."

The cable then noted China's strategy of not disclosing details about its nuclear arms:

"In a moment of candor that harkened back to Sun Tzu's admonition to conceal your strengths and weaknesses from an adversary, [Assistant Foreign Minister] He flatly stated that China does not favor displaying the same transparency regarding nuclear weapons holdings or delivery platforms that the United States, UK, and France have shown, since doing so would eliminate the value of China's strategic deterrent."

China continues to reject U.S. requests for nuclear talks, most recently last month when Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates asked Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Liang Guanglie to hold strategic talks. Gen. Liang dismissed Mr. Gates' offer for talks by saying he would study it and that other forums already could be used.

New strike bomber

Two years after Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates shelved plans for a new long-range bomber, the Pentagon announced on Monday it will spend $3.7 billion on80 to 100 new high-tech stealth bombers capable of being piloted remotely or with an onboard crew.

The bomber is a key requirement for the Air Force to replace aging B-52, B-1 and B-2 bombers, and according to defense officials one factor in going ahead with the new bomber is growing worries about China's military buildup.

As China moves ahead rapidly with new stealth fighters and a missile capable of killing U.S. aircraft carriers at sea, and its strategic anti-satellite missiles, Pentagon war planners pushed for the new strike bomber.

War planners argued that the bomber is needed to fly deep inside China if Beijing were to begin firing salvos of anti-satellite missiles, first successfully tested in 2007, at U.S. satellites, which are used for everything from communications to weapons targeting. The new bomber would be called on to conduct rapid strikes against ASAT launchers before the Chinese could deal a potentially deadly blow to U.S. military capabilities.

Details of the new bomber remain sketchy and officials who briefed reporters on the aircraft provided only limited information. The bomber will be built to carry both nuclear and conventional bombs and missiles, and one likely weapon will be a new 600-mile-range cruise missile called the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM-ER).

Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale said the bomber is a premier element of a "family" of long-range strike weapons that are "key to anti-access challenges that we expect to face in the future" — anti-access being Pentagon code for China in particular, which is building forces and weapons designed to prevent the U.S. military from supporting regional Asian allies such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

"It will be a long-range bomber. It will be a penetrating bomber. It will be a manned aircraft, though it will have the capability to be remotely piloted," Mr. Hale said, noting that to keep costs down, it will be built with existing technologies.

The new bomber plan announced this year rejected past plans for using unproven technology, said Air Force Lt. Gen. Larry Spencer, director of the Joint Staff structure, resources and assessment.

The goal is to deploy the bomber in the mid-2020s.

Asked if the new bomber will be primarily remotely piloted or mainly flown by on-board pilots, Air Force Maj. Gen. Alfred Flowers, deputy assistant secretary for budget, said the concept now calls for "optionally manned; to be determined just how that will work."

Curveball misses

The notorious Iraqi defector to Germany known by the code name, Curveball, has gone public in a British newspaper, and he defended fabrications about Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction programs that were part of the reason U.S. forces invaded Iraq in 2003.

Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi told Britain's Guardian newspaper he had few regrets about lying to Germany's BND spy agency, which in turn passed on the false data to the CIA that eventually made its way to a major public presentation before the United Nations by Secretary of State Colin Powell in 2003.

"I had the chance to fabricate something to topple the regime," said Mr. al-Janabi, a chemical engineer who worked in Iraqi industry before defecting. "I and my sons are proud of that, and we are proud that we were the reason to give Iraq the margin of democracy."

The defector left Iraq in 2000 and was debriefed extensively by the BND. One of his biggest fabrications was that Iraq had mobile biological weapons vans that could be used to disperse deadly germ weapons.

Mr. Powell quoted from Curveball's fabricated testimony during his February 2003 U.N. presentation, stating that U.S. intelligence had "first-hand descriptions" of bioweapons factories "on wheels" from an "eyewitness" who was "an Iraqi chemical engineer who supervised one of these facilities. He was present during biological agent production runs. He was also at the site when an accident occurred in 1998. Twelve technicians died."

The defector said he was surprised when his data was used in the Powell presentation because he had asked that the BND not share his information outside Germany.

A U.S. commission set up to investigate the Iraq WMD failure ultimately blamed CIA analysts for not verifying Curveball's data.

Mr. al-Janabi said he laments the loss of Iraqis who died in the war but claimed he was desperate to help oust Saddam.

"Believe me, there was no other way to bring about freedom to Iraq. There were no other possibilities," he said.

"Saddam did not [allow] freedom in our land," he said. "There are no other political parties. You have to believe what Saddam says, and do what Saddam wants. And I don't accept that. I have to do something for my country. So I did this and I am satisfied, because there is no dictator in Iraq anymore."

Asked about the published comments, a U.S. intelligence official said: "This guy shouldn't be expressing pride over what he did."

Egypt's Brotherhood

A former FBI agent is circulating his assessment that the global Muslim Brotherhood is well on its way to seizing power in Egypt.

John Guandolo, now a consultant who makes presentations on the threat of Islamists to this country and abroad, cites seized Brotherhood documents and then ties its objectives to what is happening in Cairo, as well as in other African and Middle East states.

"In light of recent events in Lebanon, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, and elsewhere, it is important to understand that the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is at the root of these events and is simply following their strategic plan," Mr. Guandolo stated.

He said internal Brotherhood documents show the group's general goal of replacing all secular governments with ones guided only by Shariah, or Muslim, law, reports special correspondent Rowan Scarborough.

The "Phases of the World Underground Movement Plan" sets out a five-step plan to take power within a particular country, Mr. Guandolo said. "It begins with "discreet/secret establishment of elite leadership," which the Egyptian Brotherhood has done, culminating in "seizing power to establish the Islamic Nation."

According to Mr. Guandolo, "Egypt is in Phase 5 of the MB's plan."

He noted that "what we are witnessing may be the overt revolutionary overthrow of governments around the world by the International Muslim Brotherhood and their collaborators."

The military now rules Egypt after the forced resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. The generals have invited Brotherhood members to meetings on how to proceed toward democratic elections. Analysts tell Inside the Ring that Mr. Mubarak closely screened senior officers to ensure they had no extreme views. The analysts say they believe the military will prevent hard-line Islamists from taking over Cairo.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author
Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.

He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.

Mr. ...

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