- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 12, 2006

At the G-8 meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, beginning July 15, President Bush may confront a set of inconvenient facts: Without the direct aid and comfort of the Chinese Communist Party, North Korea would not have a nuclear weapons program or a long-range missile program. Neither would Iran. And the world has dodged a series of Chinese-made weapons of mass destruction bullets in Iraq, Libya and elsewhere. But will his briefing books tell him so?

A 1996 CIA report, “Arms Transfers to State Sponsors of Terrorism” named the People’s Republic of China as the world’s leading proliferator and so it remains, 10 years later. Last month the Treasury Department slapped yet another round of sanctions on China’s missile makers and space launchers for smuggling arms to Iran’s terrorist regime. Just the highlights of what is publicly known about the PRC arms trade is far beyond the space available here. A flavor of the record:

(1) In total secret, the PRC sold a complete nuclear weapons plant, plus nuclear weapons design technology to Algeria, most likely as an offshore project for Saddam Hussein.

(2) Two tons of highly enriched uranium from a Chinese military reactor was smuggled to Saddam’s war machine, says the International Atomic Energy Agency.

(3) Before Political Correctness silenced the analysts at the Office of Naval Intelligence, they told the public of a “steady flow of [WMD] materials and technologies from China to Iran.”

(4) Germany’s CIA, the BND, reports that Chinese technicians built a complete chemical weapons plant 25 miles south of the Iranian capital.

(5)According to published reports, the Chinese nuclear warhead design sold to Libya’s Col. Moammar Gadhafi had marginal notes on the blueprints listing which Chinese official would receive what cut of the deal.

Looking at the Beijing-Pyongyang WMD relationship, in fairness we must note that North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs got their early starts with help from Moscow in the Soviet era. But just as Josef Stalin handed the Korean War off to Mao Tse-tung, so too official Moscow is long since out of the WMD business with North Korea. These days Beijing provides the WMD wherewithal and the diplomatic cover for Pyongyang.

In 1975 it seems Beijing began to turn Moscow’s low-level nuclear training program for North Korea scientists into a full-fledged nuclear weapons research and development gift to the Kim regime. In the late 1970s, the Chinese began with advanced training for North Korean missile engineers and by the 1980s the Chinese had graduated to rocket motor design, advanced metallurgy, airframe design and space-age machine tools.

In 1994, America’s Defense Intelligence Agency discovered that the first stage of North Korea’s Taepodong long-range missile was almost identical to the Chinese CSS-2 intermediate range ballistic missile. “Presumably, the only way they [North Korean engineers] would know how to build something the size of the CSS-2 is either physical transfer of the beast or engineers familiar with the program,” DIA told the Wall Street Journal.

In recent years, there have been sporadic reports of Iranian military planes seen on the ground in North Korea. Unfortunately, the reports fail to note it is impossible to fly such aircraft from Tehran to Pyongyang without refueling in China twice — once outbound and once inbound. In effect, the Chinese People’s Liberation army is running a WMD filling station under the watchful eyes of American spy satellites.

In the run-up to the North Korean missile tests, the chief of the Chinese General Staff, Gen. Liang Guanglie met a senior North Korean general. The Chinese press reported the two officers discussed the further deepening of the existing Chinese-North Korean military relationship. Some American China-watchers [known as “The Blue Team”] immediately concluded this was a two part message from China’s most important military leader: To the Americans, it was “Back off” and to the North Koreans, it was “Go for launch.” Since another Chinese general had given the “Go” signal to the North Koreans for their missile launch back in 1998, it wasn’t hard to read between the lines this time as well. Neither the July 4 missile tests nor the July 8 headline in the New York Times (“China fights sanctions to punish North Korea”) come as any surprise.

When the president meets Communist Chinese leader Hu Jintao in St. Petersburg, what will his briefing books tell him about the Chinese relationships with terrorist regimes, especially North Korea? Will he be told the Chinese don’t know what Kim Jong-il is up to, or that they have no real power to modify his behavior or will he be told the truth?

William C. Triplett II served in the Executive Office of the President in the first Reagan administration.

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