- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 8, 2002

Beginning Dec. 9, the Communist Chinese general who threatened to incinerate Los Angeles with nuclear weapons will visit Washington D.C.
Gen. Xiong Guangkai, the People's Republic of China's deputy chief of staff for intelligence, has been absent from the Washington scene since the Clinton era. It will be interesting to see if he can weasel a photo-op or two with high-ranking administration officials. His visit appears to be Beijing's price for a lower level of obstructionism at the U.N. on the Iraq question and his mission is a restart of the U.S.-P.R.C. military-to-military talks.
However, in addition to his verbal threats aimed at America, evidence is now beginning to emerge pointing to the general as more of a principal and less as an accessory in the nuclear weapons for ballistic missile swap between Pakistan and North Korea.
Looking at the origins and development of the North Korean long-range missile program, we can say that without critical help from Chinese Peoples' Liberation Army scientists, there probably would not be such a program today. In 1994, the Wall Street Journal published a discovery by the American Defense Intelligence Agency that one stage of the new North Korean missile was a copy of the Chinese CSS-2 missile. Quoting the DIA, the Journal wrote, "Presumably, the only way they [North Korean engineers] would know how to build something the size of the CSS-2 is either by physical transfer of such a beast, or of engineers familiar with the program."
Around the same time, Pakistan's gas centrifuge nuclear weapons program also had a "Made in China" look to it. The gas centrifuge nuclear enrichment process requires ring magnets for its operation and the P.R.C. is the world's leader in samarium-cobalt ring magnets. The Washington Times broke the story of Beijing's delivery of thousands of ring magnets to Pakistan in 1996. These are the same type of ring magnets Beijing sold to Saddam Hussein just before the Gulf war.
Nuclear weapons can be created based on plutonium or enriched uranium. North Korea had a plutonium-based nuclear weapons program but the Agreed Framework with the U.S. allegedly halted that in 1994. It also has abundant natural uranium but no technology for a uranium enrichment bomb. Pakistan has short-range missiles, the M-11s, it received from China. However, the M-11s won't reach the critical military facilities on India's east coast and the P.R.C. doesn't want to be caught transferring longer-range missiles to Pakistan.
Thanks to excellent reporting by The Washington Times and the New York Times, we now know that American-built C-130 transport aircraft of the Pakistan Air Force have been shuttling between Islamabad and Pyongyang trading nuclear enrichment technology and equipment for long-range missiles. The C-130s have to refuel at PLA Air Force bases in Western China at least twice, once coming and once going. We do not know if the C-130s have loaded additional cargo while they are on the ground in China, but there is certainly an opportunity for Beijing to add some ring magnets on the Islamabad-to-Pyongyang leg and some critical missile gear on the return to Pakistan.
Gen. Xiong is more than complicit in this weapons of mass destruction trade. In 1950, the North Korean leadership dragged the P.R.C. into a war with the United Nations. At the end of it, a million Chinese soldiers had been killed or wounded, including the son of Chinese leader Mao Tse-tung. It is simply inconceivable that Beijing's political leadership would not demand, and get, full intelligence on North Korea from Gen. Xiong's military spies. If he had failed in this assignment, he would have been fired. But in fact, Gen. Xiong is the PLA face that Communist China is presenting to the Americans.
We believe Gen. Xiong is either the PLA broker for the North Korea-Pakistan swap or he sits on an as-yet-unidentified committee that brokers this trade. The evidence points in this direction. First, in early August 1998 Gen. Xiong was in North Korea for a visit. After a "decent interval" of about a month, North Korea electrified Japan by firing a multistage missile over the home islands. This is the same missile or versions of it that is the subject of the trade with Pakistan.
In the spring of this year, Gen. Xiong showed up in Islamabad to sign "Joint Military Production" and "Joint Defense" Agreements with Pakistan. Analysts in Washington and New Delhi immediately wondered, "joint military production of what?" and "joint defense against whom?" After another "decent interval," the C-130s started making their regular Islamabad-Pyongyang runs.
There is a saying in the intelligence business that "there are no coincidences." Gen. Xiong's appearance at both ends of the Pakistan-North Korea weapons of mass destruction pipeline is both significant and ominous.
Given the distaste for the U.S.-P.R.C. military-to-military meetings since the Clinton years, it is doubtful, absent Iraq, that the Pentagon would be hosting Gen. Xiong and his team next week. They were drafted on this one. In light of the nuclear threat against Los Angeles and the high likelihood that Gen. Xiong is brokering weapons of mass destruction, it will be interesting to see who volunteers to have his or her picture taken with him.

Edward Timperlake and William C. Triplett, II are the authors of "Red Dragon Rising," Regnery 2002.

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