NEWS AND ANALYSIS:
Russia conducted a flight test of an intercontinental ballistic missile Tuesday that state media in Moscow said included the test of an advanced warhead.
The road-mobile SS-25 missile was fired from a test range at Kapustin Yar in southern Russia to an impact zone in Sary Shagan in neighboring Kazakhstan.
“‘The purpose of the launch was to test a prospective warhead of intercontinental ballistic missiles,” the official Interfax news agency quoted Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Yegorov as saying.
The RIA Novosti news agency said the test was used to develop a “new combat payload for future ICBMs.”
No additional details were provided by the Russians.
Defense analysts say the latest test highlights Moscow’s strategic nuclear modernization program and raises concerns about Russia’s earlier threats to develop missile defense-defeating warheads in response to U.S. and NATO defenses in Europe.
Former Pentagon official Mark Schneider, who monitors Russian strategic military developments, said the Russians have said the new follow-on SS-27 ICBM and the new SS-NX-32 submarine-launched ballistic missile, known as the Bulava, will be equipped with advanced warheads — up to 10 warheads per missile.
“Two things are being reported in the Moscow press about the SS-27 and the Bulava — 10 warheads and hypersonic vehicles,” Mr. Schneider said.
A Russian intercontinental ballistic missile designer, Yuri Solomonov, also has said the new strategic missiles will be equipped with multiple, independently targetable reentry vehicles without a “bus” — a component that normally coordinates the firing of multiple warheads.
Russia, along with China, is developing ultra-high-speed, hypersonic vehicles for launch atop missiles. Hypersonic vehicles, both powered and glide weapons, are designed to travel at the edge of space and are being built to defeat U.S. missile defenses.
The National Air and Space Intelligence Center stated in a report last year that Russia is working on a new class of hypersonic vehicle designed to “allow Russian strategic missiles to penetrate missile defense systems.”
The missile test followed a nuclear forces exercise this month that Russian officials described as “massive.”
The Obama administration is under pressure from Congress to hold Moscow accountable for violations of arms control agreements, including the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty and possibly the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.
CHINESE ELITES’ SPY GAINS
A senior State Department official said this week he will report to Congress on whether Chinese Communist Party elites are benefiting from Beijing’s economic espionage program.
Daniel Russel, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, told a House hearing Tuesday that Beijing-backed economic cyber espionage is a major concern.
Stolen U.S. data is being “transferred to Chinese companies or state-owned enterprises and used for commercial gain,” Mr. Russel told a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.
He made the comments under questioning by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, who asked if party elites also are cashing in on the theft of U.S. trade secrets.
“Is there evidence that members of the Chinese Communist leadership who have been enriching themselves — we know how wealthy they are — have been involved with the theft of American technology?” he said.
Mr. Russel promised to investigate the matter and provide a written response.
Mr. Rohrabacher criticized the Obama administration’s indictment of five People’s Liberation Army hackers on Monday as a hollow gesture.
“I, of course, was hoping that this so-called pivot to Asia was going to result in a much more aggressive and realistic policy toward what I see is the major threat to America’s security and to free world security and stability and well-being,” he said.
As China is using military force in the South China Sea to enforce questionable maritime claims, the U.S. response was to indict five PLA hackers, the congressman said.
“That’s a joke. Five military computer hackers. I’m sure that the gang, the clique that runs China, the dictatorial and brutal and murderous clique that runs China is very impressed with the courage that we have in arresting the five military computer hacks,” Mr. Rohrabacher said.
Mr. Russel, in response, defended the largely symbolic legal action against the members of a secretive military hacking group, Unit 61398 in Shanghai.
“This reflects not a response to China’s foreign policy activities, but this reflects the strong commitment by President Obama, in focusing on cybersecurity and cybercrime, to address the challenge posed by Chinese government-sponsored cyber-enabled theft of the trade secrets and sensitive business information of U.S. companies,” Mr. Russel said.
Mr. Rohrabacher replied: “I would say that he is sending the wrong message, because arresting or indicting five military computer hackers is such a weak response, it will have the opposite reaction from dictators and the people who run China.”
“They are enriching themselves,” he said. “They brutally stamp out any opposition. There are no opposition parties there. They still kill people for believing in God, like the Falun Gong, who they throw into prison and then have murdered in order to take their organs and sell them. This is not a group of leaders of a country who would be impressed by the fact that five of their lower echelon have been indicted.”
John Tkacik, a former State Department China expert, said the federal grand jury indictment of the five Chinese hackers provided extensive details on Beijing’s cybercrimes and indicates that China probably uses cyber-penetrations to enrich both the state and Communist Party members “to the tune of trillions, not billions, of dollars.”
Mr. Tkacik said the National Security Agency, the electronic and cyber spying service, is capable of learning the facts on how Communist Party elites may have benefited from cyber spying.
“If Treasury’s intelligence coordination shop hasn’t tasked NSA to track Chinese financial trades, they’re not doing their jobs,” he said.
The NSA, Treasury Department and Federal Reserve Bank could begin by calculating illicit funds gained by so-called “princelings” — the wealthy sons and daughters of party and PLA elites.
Scores to hundreds of Chinese leaders and their relatives have parked billions of dollars in U.S. banks and other institutions.
For example, foreign press reports about imprisoned Communist Party Politburo member Bo Xilai, charged with financial corruption, revealed that his wife had transferred $1.7 billion overseas.
Mr. Tkacik said China uses its economic power to influence global financial and commodities markets, and manipulates those markets on “a galactic scale.”
“If Chinese steel and aluminum companies have this kind of access to foreign data networks, there can be no doubt that they use it to reap extra billions in profits off of global commodities markets with insider information,” Mr. Tkacik said.
CYBER SPYING CONCERNS
The Pentagon’s senior spokesman said Tuesday that the Defense Department shares the rest of the government’s concerns about China’s theft of trade data.
Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said he is not aware of the specific impact of Monday’s indictment of five members of a Chinese military hacking unit.
“I can tell you just in general, we share the U.S. government’s concern about intellectual theft and property theft from cyber,” the spokesman said.
“The president’s been clear, the secretary’s been clear that we remain deeply concerned about these government-sponsored cyber-enabled thefts of trade secrets and other sensitive business information. It’s got to stop. We have the same concerns,” Adm. Kirby said.
Several U.S. and allied defense contractors have been victims of Chinese cyberattacks. The most damaging case was the loss of secrets related to the Lockheed Martin F-35, the military’s newest jet.
U.S. defense officials told Inside the Ring in March that F-35 secrets obtained by cyber espionage seven years ago have begun appearing in China’s new J-20 stealth fighter, which appears very similar in design to the F-35.
• Contact Bill Gertz at @BillGertz.