improved China missiles
By Bill Gertz
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
merican satellite companies helped China
"perfect" its strategic missiles through
technology transferred with the approval of
the Clinton administration, according to a senior
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher said Beijing's
strategic rockets were unable to target the United
States effectively five years ago but benefited
greatly in the past several years by acquiring
technology with both commercial and military
"I am very sad to say [the Chinese] now have
the capability of landing nuclear weapons in the
United States and we are the ones who perfected
their rockets," the chairman of the House Science
subcommittee on space and aeronautics said in a
floor speech on April 30.
Mr. Rohrabacher, California Republican,
said until last year the space boosters known as
Long March were unreliable and three out of five
attempts to launch the boosters ended in failure.
The rockets were "upgraded" after several U.S.
corporations provided information last year on
their flaws, Mr. Rohrabacher said.
Technology experts say space launch
technology is identical to that used by strategic
missiles. In fact, China's premier manufacturer
of Long March boosters makes long-range
nuclear missiles for the military.
Mr. Rohrabacher said he is investigating
claims that several U.S. companies helped
improve Chinese missiles by supplying
"stage-separation" technology -- the capability
used to assist rocket or missile stages break away
smoothly during launch.
More alarming are reports that the Chinese
have acquired the technology used to "dispense"
satellites in space once they reach orbit. Such
technology is identical to that used in launching
multiple, independently targetable re-entry
vehicles, the so-called MIRV
multiple-warheads, he said.
Senior House members, including Speaker
Newt Gingrich, were briefed last week on the
issue and have asked the administration to
explain how the missile technology leaked out.
The Science and National Security committees
are expected to hold hearings sometime during
the next several weeks, House aides said.
The Justice Department is investigating
whether Hughes Electronics Corp. and Loral
Space & Communications Ltd. improperly
supplied dual-use space and strategic missile
know-how to China following the 1996 launch
failure of a Long March rocket that crashed with
a $200 million U.S. satellite on board.
A secret Pentagon report on the companies'
technology transfer determined that "United
States national security has been harmed,"
according to U.S. officials who have seen the
Mr. Rohrabacher said Mr. Clinton and his
administration "have been doing everything they
can to quash the investigation." He said the probe
was undermined two months ago when Mr.
Clinton approved the export to China of similar
dual-use technology. The story was first
disclosed in the New York Times April 13.
Mr. Rohrabacher also said Loral Chief
Executive Officer Bernard Schwartz was the
largest individual contributor to the Democratic
Party in 1996.
The help provided to the Chinese was a
"betrayal of American aerospace workers," who
lost out in the exchange, Mr. Rohrabacher said. It
also "put us all in the crosshairs of a communist
government which, thanks to this assistance, now
has the ability not just to put satellites into space
but to deliver nuclear weapons to a majority of
American cities," he said.
A CIA report sent to senior U.S.
policymakers last month said that China now has
13 of its 18 long-range CSS-4 strategic missiles
pointed at the United States.
Mr. Rohrabacher said his investigation into
the matter was prompted by an executive from a
U.S. aerospace company involved in "upgrading"
the Chinese missile capability, who said the firm
was operating under a "national security waiver"
signed by President Clinton. Mr. Rohrabacher
said later in an interview that the company was
Motorola Corp. He did not identify the
The launch of U.S. satellites was banned in
1989 under sanctions imposed after the bloody
crackdown on unarmed protesters in Beijing's
Tiananmen Square by the People's Liberation
Army. Some launches have been permitted under
White House waivers that Clinton administration
officials claim are carried out under strict
controls to prevent the technology from being
leaked to the Chinese.
U.S. intelligence agencies have said Chinese
strategic missiles lacked multiple-warhead
capabilities but that new systems are expected to
have the advanced several-warhead
"So the American companies proceeded to
provide stage-separation technology, as well as
technology that enabled a rocket to spit out
satellites, or nuclear warheads, whichever the
communist Chinese might want to use on any
particular day," Mr. Rohrabacher said.
The Loral and Hughes scientists who gave
the Chinese the missile know-how "charged
forward to correct the problems of the Long
March," he said.