- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 9, 2000

China increased its missile-related sales to Pakistan last year and is continuing to supply nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and missile goods to North Korea, Libya and Iran, the CIA said in its latest semiannual report to Congress.

"Chinese missile-related technical assistance to Pakistan increased during this reporting period," the report stated. "In addition, firms in China provided missile-related items, raw materials, and/or assistance to several countries of proliferation concern such as Iran, North Korea and Libya."

The report, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times, also stated that "we cannot preclude" that China has ongoing contacts with Pakistani nuclear weapons officials contrary to a pledge made by Beijing in 1996 to halt aid to nuclear programs in Pakistan that are not under international controls.

"China's involvement with Pakistan will continue to be monitored closely," the report said.

But the Senate Intelligence Committee is investigating why additional arms proliferation activities by Beijing were left out of the unclassified report, a Senate aide said.

"We welcome the report but the committee has some concerns over the content and whether certain information should have been included in the unclassified report that was not," said the aide. A hearing is planned in the near future to discuss the gap with officials from the CIA's Nonproliferation Center, which produced the report.

The 11-page unclassified report is the public version of a more detailed study the CIA is required to produce every six months under a 1997 intelligence law. It is based on intelligence reports of global weapons sales for the last six months of 1999.

The report contradicts recent claims by Clinton administration policy-makers that China's record of illicit arms sales is improving.

National Security Adviser Samuel R. Berger recently told the Senate that China's proliferation record is improving, according to Senate aides. He went to Capitol Hill last month to lobby against legislation sponsored by Sen. Fred Thompson that would punish China for its numerous arms transfers to rogue states.

The report is expected to boost the chances for passage of the bill, a Thompson aide said.

State Department arms control official John Holum went to Beijing last month to discuss China's arms sales, including the missile transfers to Pakistan.

After meeting Chinese officials, Mr. Holum told reporters: "We held detailed, substantive discussions on the missile issue, and we made progress, but the issue remains unresolved."

China restarted the proliferation talks that were broken off after the errant May 1999 bombing of China's embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, by U.S. bombers.

Pentagon officials have said the Chinese use the arms talks to consistently deny that Chinese firms are engaged in selling dangerous weapons technology to states seeking nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems.

The meetings usually consist of blanket Chinese denials and then requests for additional information in an effort to find out about U.S. intelligence capabilities and how to avoid detection of further covert sales.

Michael Pillsbury, a former defense official during the Reagan and Bush administrations, said the report shows that Beijing is using its arms sales against the United States.

"This illustrates that China remains angry over the embassy bombing in Belgrade over a year ago and the announcement of increased arms sales to Taiwan," Mr. Pillsbury said.

On other weapons transfers, the CIA report stated that:

• Iran is stepping up efforts to build nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, missile systems and advanced conventional arms with help from companies in Russia, China, North Korea and Western Europe.

• Iran gained nuclear technology from Russia that will be "useful in supporting nuclear weapons research and development."

• Iran bought attack helicopters and is working on building production facilities for anti-tank missiles, jet fighters, Chinese-design air defense missiles and anti-ship missiles.

• Iraq is continuing to rebuild chemical weapons plants and missile production facilities, and may have up to 6,000 chemical weapons munitions hidden from international inspectors.

• Iraq is working on an unmanned aerial vehicle made from an Eastern European L-29 training jet. "These modified and refurbished L-29s are believed to be intended for delivery of chemical or biological agents," the report said.

• North Korea increased its procurement of missile-related components from China, and purchased nuclear-related goods that could be used for nuclear weapons.

• North Korea purchased MiG21 jets from Kazakhstan.

• Libya is expanding its efforts to acquire missile materials as the result of the lifting of United Nations economic sanctions last year.

• Syria is continuing to build a solid-fuel missile motor plant and also obtained missile-related equipment from Russia and North Korea.

• Sudan is seeking to develop a chemical weapons capability with help from Iraq.

• India's nuclear weapons program benefited from Russian and Western European assistance and is working to develop more sophisticated nuclear arms.

• Russia and India are discussing the leasing of several long-range bomber aircraft that provide the Indian military a "significantly" longer-range strike capability.

• Despite 1997 sanctions imposed on seven Chinese companies, Iran "continues to seek … assistance from Chinese entities" for its chemical weapons program.

Regarding Chinese-Pakistani missile cooperation, the report said Chinese companies increased their assistance to Islamabad's missile program, which U.S. officials believe will be used to deliver nuclear weapons.

In addition to China, North Korea also assisted the Pakistani missile program. "Such assistance is critical for Islamabad's efforts to produce ballistic missiles," the report said.

Pakistan also acquired nuclear weapons-related goods, primarily from WesternEurope, the report said.

The Pakistanis also purchased advanced fighters and anti-ship missiles from China last year.

China's pledge to limit nuclear assistance to two projects in Iran "appears to be holding," the report said.

On Russian weapons transfers, the report said Russian companies provided Iranian missile manufacturers with "substantial missile-related technology" in the last half of 1999.

The assistance is likely to provide a major boost to Iran's several long-range missiles now under development.

Despite U.S. government pressure, Russia has been unable to curb the missile assistance to Iran, the report said. It stated that "the Russian government's commitment, willingness and ability to curb proliferation-related transfers remains uncertain."

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide