Inside the Ring: China launcher proliferation

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China Defense Minister Liang Guanglie will visit the United States this week and is expected to face questioning on the presence of a Chinese-made mobile strategic-missile launcher that was spotted carrying a new North Korean long-range missile in Pyongyang on April 15.

Gen. Liang arrives Friday and will meet Monday at the Pentagon with Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and other U.S. officials, Pentagon spokesman George Little told Inside the Ring. He noted that the visit is part of efforts to “foster closer military-to-military ties with China.”

Mr. Little would not say whether the discussions will include the controversial transfer by China of a long-range mobile missile launcher. But other officials said it is expected to be raised in at least some of Gen. Liang’s meetings in Washington.

On a related note, Rep. Michael R. Turner, chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces, issued at statement Tuesday calling on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner to raise the strategic missile proliferation during talks in Beijing this week.

“I expect that the very top of their agenda will be the apparent material support for North Korea’s road-mobile ballistic-missile program provided by state-owned Chinese firms and their subsidiaries,” the Ohio Republican said.

“Such support means that China is enabling North Korea to deploy road-mobile ballistic missiles, which could be tipped with nuclear warheads and aimed at the United States.”

He added that the cooperation “poses a direct threat to the security of the American people.”

Mr. Turner said the administration “must demand an immediate halt to such activity and a guarantee that China will end its support for the dictatorial [North Korean] regime in Pyongyang.”

Administration officials have sought to minimize the nuclear- missile launcher proliferation by claiming China’s government was not behind the transfer, even though the manufacturer is a state-owned company.

DIA TO STEP UP SPYING

The disclosure that the Pentagon is increasing efforts to conduct more aggressive human gathering of intelligence set off alarm bells among defense officials deployed for spying operations around the world, according to Pentagon sources.

News reports of the new effort were greeted with worry by some of the defense attaches posted at U.S. embassies that felt threatened by the publicity and were concerned about crackdowns by host governments.

A new directive on the Defense Clandestine Service was signed April 20, according to Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. James O. Gregory.

Col. Gregory told Inside the Ring he was not aware of the security worries among oversea defense officials.

The Defense Clandestine Service is not a new organization but is better described as a new initiative mainly within the Defense Intelligence Agency aimed at better integrating Pentagon spying efforts and to “enhance global coverage,” he said.

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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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