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"ACA's journal, Arms Control Today, remains the best in the market. Well focused. Solidly researched. Prudent."

– Hans Blix
Former IAEA Director-General
China

Russia Holds Second GCS Conference

Continuing to build upon a concept it proposed in June 1999, on February 15 Moscow hosted the second conference on its Global Control System (GCS) initiative to combat missile proliferation. Governments from over 70 countries sent high-level representatives, including China, Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan—all states of missile proliferation concern. The United States was the only member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), an arrangement among 32 countries aiming to stem missile proliferation, that declined to send a representative.

At the first GCS conference in March 2000, Russia outlined the framework for a multilateral regime consisting primarily of an international missile prelaunch notification agreement, a system of incentives for "stimulating and encouraging" states to forgo the possession of missile systems capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction, and an international forum devoted to continually addressing missile non-proliferation issues.

According to an official familiar with the discussions, at this year's conference GCS participants discussed an international code of conduct on ballistic missile non-proliferation that was first aired at MTCR meetings last year. Unlike the MTCR's restrictions on missile suppliers, the proposed code would tackle ballistic missile non-proliferation from the demand side, placing limitations on states seeking to advance their missile capabilities. Details on the code are not yet public.

According to the official, India and China—both states outside the MTCR regime—seemed willing to consider such a code of conduct, but only under the auspices of the United Nations.

While not attending the conference, Washington agreed last September, in a joint statement with Moscow, to work "on a new mechanism" to integrate the Russian GCS proposal, the missile code of conduct, and the MTCR's existing framework. (See ACT, October 2000.) A U.S. official said that Washington does not support elements of the GCS proposal outside the context of the MTCR.

While the method for building on this year's meeting remains unclear, a Russian Foreign Ministry statement said that the conference's participants suggested "a gradual practical elaboration" of the GCS, which may include bringing the proposal to the UN.

China Tests DF-31 Missile

China conducted a flight test of its Dong Feng (DF)-31 long-range missile on November 4, the Pentagon said December 12. Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon would not provide many details on the test, saying simply, "The test was pretty much as expected in terms of timing and in terms of results."

The test, which was first reported in The Washington Times, advances China's strategic modernization program, which is designed to increase the survivability and reliability of its small nuclear deterrent force.

The DF-31 is a solid-fueled, road-mobile missile with an estimated range of 8,000 kilometers, meaning that, when deployed, it will be able to target portions of the northwestern United States. It was first flight-tested in August 1999. According to The Washington Times, China also tested the DF-31 in the spring of 2000 and in mid-December, but the Pentagon refused to confirm those tests.

Currently, China is reported to have only about 20 ICBMs, known as DF-4s, capable of hitting the continental United States. The DF-4 is liquid-fueled and silo-based and has been in service for over 20 years. In addition to the DF-31, China is developing another mobile ICBM that will have a longer range and will likely replace the DF-4.

China Tests DF-31 Missile

China Issues Missile Export Pledge; U.S. Says It Will Waive Sanctions

December 2000

By J. Peter Scoblic

China formally committed November 21 not to export ballistic missile components and technology restricted by the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), marking a step forward in extended U.S. efforts to stem Chinese missile proliferation. In exchange, the Clinton administration immediately announced that it would resume processing applications for U.S. companies to launch satellites on Chinese rockets and would not pursue sanctions against Beijing for past missile transfers to Pakistan and Iran. The administration will, however, impose sanctions on the Pakistani and Iranian entities that received Chinese missile-related assistance.

The statement detailing the commitment, issued by a Foreign Ministry spokesperson in Beijing, indicates that China will not help states develop "ballistic missiles that can be used to deliver nuclear weapons (i.e., missiles capable of delivering a payload of at least 500 kilograms to a distance of at least 300 kilometers)." Though it makes no mention of the 32-member Missile Technology Control Regime, a voluntary arrangement restricting missile exports, the statement does say that China will "take into account the relevant practices of other countries," and the range and payload guidelines it specifies mirror those in the MTCR.

According to the statement, China will issue "at an early date" a "comprehensive" list of missile-related and dual-use items whose export will require a government license. In issuing those licenses, the statement says the Chinese government will consider the items' end-user and whether they might be used to develop missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons. The statement also says that China will "exercise special scrutiny and caution, even for those items not specifically contained on the control list."

Less than an hour after the Chinese announcement, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that, in view of the Chinese promise, the United States would resume reviewing U.S. firms' applications to launch satellites on Chinese rockets, a process that had been suspended in February. Boucher also announced that the Clinton administration had "decided to waive economic sanctions required by U.S. law for past assistance by Chinese entities to missile programs in Pakistan and Iran." Boucher did not specify the nature of the assistance, but a State Department official explained that the sanctions would have been imposed for a pattern of Chinese transfers that was growing intolerable. "We were going to have to do something," the official said.

The United States will impose sanctions on the relevant Pakistani and Iranian entities, however. According to Boucher, the Ministry of Defense and the Upper Atmosphere Research Commission in Pakistan will be sanctioned for involvement in the transfer of so-called MTCR Category I systems—that is, complete missile systems. Those entities and Iran's Defense Industries Organization and its Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics will be sanctioned for the transfer of Category II items, components and technologies that can be used to make MTCR-class systems. Because of existing U.S. sanctions against the two countries, the new sanctions will have little economic effect.

Washington has long been concerned about Chinese missile assistance to Pakistan and Iran, and it imposed sanctions on China in 1991 and 1993 for transfers to Pakistan. However, in both instances the sanctions were lifted after little more than a year, when China agreed to abide by the terms of, but not formally join, the MTCR. More recently, following his 1998 summit with President Bill Clinton, Chinese President Jiang Zemin indicated that China would "actively consider joining" the regime.

Despite China's assurances, however, its proliferation of missile technology appears to have continued. In a biannual report to Congress released in August, the CIA noted that during the first half of 1999 "Chinese entities provided increased assistance to Pakistan's ballistic missile program" and that "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."

U.S. officials believe that the new pledge represents moderate progress over past Chinese assurances. "It's another step in the process," one administration official said, noting that "the more specific we can get with China, the better it is." Responding to Republican criticism of the deal, Boucher said in a November 22 briefing that the new promise is "a much more comprehensive commitment" than those made previously. However, in light of China's past actions, a wait-and-see attitude is prevalent. "How they actually implement it—that will be the proof," the State Department official said. "It's a question of what [Beijing's] political will actually looks like."

China's commitment is the result of months of talks led by Gary Samore, special assistant to the president for non-proliferation and export controls, and Robert Einhorn, assistant secretary of state for non-proliferation. The deal securing China's export commitment in exchange for the sanctions waiver and resumption of commercial space contact was finally reached in early November and was approved by Clinton and Jiang at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Brunei.

Despite Beijing's promised export controls, Chinese formal participation in the MTCR will apparently remain a U.S. goal. "We would love to see [China] ultimately join the MTCR," the administration official said.

Asked why China did not simply sign on to the MTCR, given that its new export declaration mimics the regime's guidelines, Chinese embassy spokesman Zhang Yuanyuan said that Beijing does not see a "rush" to join the MTCR, which he pointed out was drawn up without China's involvement. China is still studying membership in the MTCR, according to Zhang.

After years of prodding by the United States, the timing of China's pledge is something of a question. One administration official speculated the agreement was partly intended to recognize the administration's work this fall in pushing through Congress the bill granting China permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) and said that the missile agreement was an attempt by Beijing to further warm U.S.-Chinese relations. Zhang agreed, saying it is "very important in that we have successfully removed one of the sore points in the relationship."

Beijing may also be seeking to prevent punitive congressional action. In May, Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN) introduced the China Nonproliferation Act, which would have required sanctions against Chinese entities exporting certain weapons, including ballistic and cruise missiles. Repeated attempts to bring the bill to a vote failed, and an attempt in September to amend it to the PNTR legislation was defeated. But Senate Republicans may introduce further non-proliferation legislation next year. One Thompson staffer expressed dissatisfaction with the Chinese promise and said, "In one way or another, we're going to come back at this again."

China Issues Missile Export Pledge; U.S. Says It Will Waive Sanctions

China Seeks Airborne Radar From Russia

Visiting Beijing in early November, Russian officials discussed possible new arms deals with China, including the sale of up to five planes designed for airborne early-warning (AEW) missions. China currently does not possess any AEW platforms, which enable militaries to significantly extend the range at which they can monitor foreign military activities and guide their own aircraft. In 1996, China concluded a deal to acquire an Israeli AEW system, known as the Phalcon, but Israel pulled out of the deal July 11 under heavy U.S. pressure. Washington had been concerned about how the sale could impact the military balance in the Taiwan Strait. (See ACT, September 2000.)

Russia is reportedly offering China upgraded versions of the Beriev A-50 plane, referred to as "Mainstay" by NATO, which would permit China to simultaneously track tens, and perhaps hundreds, of targets as far as 400 kilometers away, while directing some 10-30 Chinese aircraft. A June 2000 Pentagon report indicated that Chinese incorporation of AEW and aerial refueling planes could be a "significant force multiplier for China's air forces, although only for relatively small numbers of aircraft at any one time."

China is also reportedly interested in buying an additional two Sovremennyy-class destroyers from Russia. The first of two previously bought destroyers arrived in China this past February, while the second is expected to arrive by the end of the year.

China Seeks Airborne Radar From Russia

Facing the China Factor

October 2000

By Banning Garrett

President Bill Clinton's September 1 announcement that he would defer a decision on deployment of a national missile defense (NMD) system may have averted a new crisis in U.S.-Chinese relations, but the respite will likely be short-lived. Pressure in Congress for NMD deployment may be unrelenting, and any new administration will probably review the NMD program with a bias toward deployment. Washington has an opportunity to work the issue with China and thus prevent a further downturn in relations with Beijing—but only if it seizes the opportunity created by the Clinton delay.

The U.S. NMD program emerged this year as a new and growing source of tension in U.S.-Chinese relations. In the absence of anything more than verbal assurances to Beijing that the system is not aimed at China, a presidential decision to proceed with construction of an NMD radar in Alaska would have confirmed China's suspicions that the United States views it as an enemy. The result could well have been reduced cooperation on a wide range of issues of strategic concern to the United States, especially proliferation.

Over the last several years, the Chinese have become increasingly apprehensive about the implications of U.S. ballistic missile defense systems, both theater and national. Until recently, the Chinese leadership had been focused on theater missile defenses (TMD) as a perceived threat to China's core national interest in preventing Taiwan's independence. Although the Chinese have opposed provision of any TMD system to Taiwan, their greatest concern is that Washington will provide Taiwan with TMD that is operationally linked to the U.S. military. Such linkages, they say, would constitute de facto restoration of the U.S.-Taiwanese military alliance, severed when Washington's normalized relations with Beijing in 1979, and signal political support for Taiwan's independence forces. Although the Chinese leadership remains concerned about the possible transfer of U.S. TMD to Taiwan, the TMD issue in U.S.-Chinese relations has eased somewhat since at the moment Taiwan is not requesting—and the United States is not considering selling—TMD that would be operationally linked to the U.S. military.

Just as tensions over the TMD issue were easing, however, China's leaders were suddenly confronted with a potentially more serious threat to Chinese security: NMD. This time, the U.S. missile defense system in question was viewed as constituting a direct military threat to China's national security, as well as a political and strategic challenge to Beijing.

The U.S. NMD system is too small to neutralize Russia's huge nuclear arsenal, and the Clinton administration's explanation that defenses are necessary to counter a potential long-range missile threat from "rogue nations" or "states of concern" is simply not credible to Chinese officials and researchers. In their view, states such as North Korea, Iran, and Iraq would not risk virtually certain suicide by attacking the United States with nuclear weapons.

Once the Chinese eliminate the Russians as the system's target and dismiss the "rogue threat," they are left with the question of why the United States would want to pay the economic and political cost of deploying an NMD system when it is already able to militarily dominate any adversary. The answer, many fear, is to neutralize China as the United States pursues its own hegemonic ambitions at the expense of Chinese security and interests.

The Chinese worry that a U.S. NMD would undermine the credibility of China's nuclear deterrent force, for which China has paid dearly over the past four decades in an effort to assert its independence from the superpowers and enhance its claim to great power status. They are concerned that even the C-1 system, in which eventually 100 interceptors would be deployed at a single site in Alaska, could potentially intercept all of China's current arsenal, which reportedly consists of about 20 single-warhead ICBMs capable of reaching the continental United States.

Many Chinese further see NMD as part of a U.S. drive for absolute military superiority that would give America the ability to intervene around the world with impunity to enhance its hegemonic position. More specifically, the Chinese fear that a United States protected against a Chinese retaliatory strike could subject China to nuclear blackmail—especially in a Taiwan crisis—and would thus be emboldened to back a Taiwanese thrust for permanent, de jure independence.

Chinese officials are also concerned that U.S. deployment of even a limited NMD system would undermine the progress made in arms control over the last decade, a period during which, they say, Washington and Beijing often worked closely together. In their view, although the United States and China sometimes have attacked each other's positions publicly, they have in fact worked to achieve the same ends on arms control and non-proliferation.

The list of joint accomplishments includes concluding the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, extending the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, halting the North Korean nuclear weapons program through the 1994 Agreed Framework, and jointly responding with the other nuclear-weapon states to the 1998 nuclear tests by India and Pakistan. After working so long with the United States on these issues, Chinese arms control officials now feel "betrayed" by the U.S. pursuit of an NMD system that would directly threaten China's "national security interest" by undermining its nuclear deterrent. Many Chinese officials are left wondering why they should bother cooperating with the United States.

U.S. efforts to assuage these concerns have been largely reactive. The unfortunate reality seems to be that the Clinton administration, preoccupied with the "rogue threat" and with getting the Russians on board to modify the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, did not consider the impact of its NMD plans on China until very late in the game. According to administration officials, there was virtually no serious consideration of the China factor in internal high-level deliberations on NMD until late last year, despite efforts at lower levels of the bureaucracy and by outside experts to raise the issue of China's likely reaction to NMD deployment.

When it became clear that Beijing would object strongly to any move to deploy a U.S. NMD, administration officials struggled, with little success, to convince China that it had nothing to fear. The Clinton administration sought privately as well as publicly to reassure the Chinese that the initial NMD capability being developed, and even its more robust follow-ons, were aimed only at emerging missile threats from "states of concern" and possible accidental launches.

Although some senior Chinese researchers and officials are willing to believe that the Clinton administration's explanations are sincere, widespread Chinese suspicions that China is, in fact, the "target" of the U.S. NMD system persist. And whatever U.S. intentions toward China, the Chinese point out that the system would have the capability to neutralize China's deterrent. Moreover, they question the value of reassurances from the Clinton administration when the next administration could decide to deploy a far more extensive system or one explicitly aimed at China.

As long as Beijing thinks there is a chance the entire program could be canceled or shelved indefinitely, it is likely to remain unalterably opposed to any NMD deployment. This would obviously be the best outcome from China's point of view and would likely have the most salutary impact on U.S.-Chinese relations.

However, the Chinese realize that there are those in Washington, especially in Congress and potentially in the next administration, who are firmly committed to NMD and still others who want specifically to "capture" China's nuclear deterrent. Although the Senate's September 19 approval of permanent normal trade relations constitutes a significant step forward in U.S.-Chinese relations, it is not likely to change the strident anti-China tone in Congress and the media. It will not be easy for an administration to explicitly forego deployment of an NMD system that would neutralize China's deterrent.

If, in the end, the United States decides to deploy an NMD—particularly one that appears to be or is in fact directed against China—the up-front costs to U.S. security will be significant. Although the strength of the Chinese reaction would likely be tempered by whether the U.S. system was explicitly intended to capture China's deterrent, several consequences are likely:

 

  • China will likely commit itself to trying to defeat whatever system the U.S. plans to deploy. The Chinese believe that they have had a small but credible nuclear retaliatory force vis-à-vis the United States for nearly two decades, and they are unlikely to willingly relinquish this deterrent any more than would the Americans. Although China is already engaged in a nuclear modernization program to field less vulnerable mobile, solid-fueled missiles, the quantitative expansion of the arsenal and the qualitative improvements that are made to it (e.g., MIRVs, decoys, penetration aids) are likely to be a function of the perceived need to defeat the U.S. NMD.

     

  • The Chinese may conclude that the United States has decided that China is its enemy and is preparing for possible military conflict, presumably over Taiwan. A China convinced of hostile U.S. intentions would be far less likely to cooperate with the United States on a range of issues of strategic importance to the United States, especially non-proliferation concerns on the Korean Peninsula and in South Asia and the Middle East.

     

  • China would seek to enhance its diplomatic efforts, including with U.S. allies, to isolate the United States on the NMD issue. America's allies, especially in Asia, might be persuaded that the U.S. NMD program was responsible for a serious deterioration in U.S.-Chinese relations and lose confidence in U.S. leadership.

     

  • Beijing would also seek closer collaboration with Russia on developing military countermeasures to missile defense and coordinating opposition to U.S. policies and strategic objectives.

     

It may still be possible to prevent this outcome. With the decision on NMD deployment now deferred to Clinton's successor, the United States has a valuable opportunity to rectify the damage to U.S.-Chinese relations and—just possibly—to find a compromise solution on missile defense deployments.

Although the most important decisions will be left to the next administration, the first steps could be taken in the remaining months of the Clinton presidency. First, the United States could seek to intensify high-level dialogue with China on the strategic implications of NMD deployment. On a lower level or in an unofficial forum, technical experts could explain to their Chinese counterparts U.S. concerns about the capabilities of potentially hostile states and discuss the limitations of the U.S. system. Chinese technical experts in turn could illuminate the strategic implications of even a limited NMD system for the Chinese nuclear deterrent. Furthermore, Chinese privately suggest that the United States could build confidence by keeping them informed, formally or informally, of U.S. negotiations with Russia on amending the ABM Treaty.

Second, the current administration could begin a comprehensive study of the short- and long-term costs and benefits to the United States of an NMD system that is, either explicitly or implicitly, directed against China. That study could be ready for the next administration to ensure that before it makes its final decision on deployment it has carefully and thoroughly considered what the United States' strategic posture toward China should be and what role, if any, national missile defense should play in that posture.

If the next administration were to consider shelving U.S. plans for national missile defense, it could use that prospect as leverage to pursue U.S. non-proliferation and arms control goals with China, not only on missile proliferation, but also on nuclear arms control measures such as a fissile material cutoff treaty or eventual sharp reductions in strategic nuclear weapons. Some Chinese officials have suggested that if the United States were to forego NMD deployment, Beijing would work more closely with the United States and the other nuclear-weapon states to negotiate a new missile non-proliferation regime or turn the Missile Technology Control Regime into a treaty. Such an approach could advance U.S. security while entailing none of the political or economic costs of proceeding with NMD.

Alternatively, if the new administration is committed to NMD deployment but does not seek to capture China's deterrent and is willing to take the politically sensitive step of engaging the Chinese on the issue, then it might be possible to reach an understanding with China on NMD that allows for a deployment of a limited system without creating a major crisis in U.S.-Chinese relations. The price to the United States would be concrete American assurances—if, indeed, such assurances are technically possible—that would convince the Chinese that the deterrent force they plan to have deployed at the time the U.S. system is fielded would not be compromised. In return, China would be expected to respond to such a significant gesture by showing similar respect for U.S. security interests regarding non-proliferation, regional peace and stability, and military activities toward Taiwan, as well as by displaying greater flexibility in its Taiwan policy.

The Chinese may not be eager partners, but they have good reason to cut a deal. China's top priority is economic development, which requires a peaceful international environment in general and good relations with the United States in particular. Beijing wants to avoid a costly and destabilizing offense-defense arms race with the United States and the mutual enmification that would likely accompany competition in strategic forces. Moreover, worsening relations would likely be counterproductive in Beijing's effort to prevent Taiwan's independence and pull Taipei into cross-Strait talks.

Further, many Chinese arms control specialists recognize that NMD may well be deployed whether China likes it or not and that China should consider forging a deal with the United States. Chinese scientists and engineers are already exploring combinations of Chinese modernization programs and U.S. limited deployment options—including both land-based systems in the United States (but not Alaska) and boost-phase systems that could be deployed close to "states of concern"—that would guarantee China's deterrent if it deployed ICBMs deep in its interior.

The process of working out an agreement with China on NMD could also strengthen U.S.-Chinese relations at a time when the United States is likely to need more, not less, cooperation with China on a range of important issues. A U.S.-Chinese dialogue on NMD deployment that resembles U.S.-Russian exchanges in both range and depth would provide strategic reassurance to Beijing that Washington does not view it as an enemy, has no desire to enter into a U.S.-China strategic arms race, and is willing to be transparent about NMD plans.

Resolving the NMD issue with China would not eliminate the deepening mutual suspicions that have plagued U.S.-Chinese relations, especially since the mistaken U.S. bombing of China's embassy in Belgrade in May 1999. The United States would remain suspicious about Chinese ambitions, especially vis-à-vis Taiwan and U.S. interests in Asia. And China might not be confident that the United States would forego building a far more robust system in the future should the technology be available and cost-effective. Nevertheless, the Chinese are likely to welcome an effort by the United States to provide concrete technical assurances that a U.S. NMD system would not neutralize the Chinese deterrent force. And the United States would benefit from a China that is more inclined to be cooperative, including on non-proliferation.

The new administration is likely to see engaging China on NMD as entailing significant domestic political risks. The anti-China political climate in the United States makes reasoned and reasonable discussion of this issue especially difficult. But the United States has important and perhaps critical national interests at stake in how the China factor in NMD is managed, and these interests—not partisan politics or ideological commitments to NMD—should guide U.S. policy.

 


Banning Garrett is a consultant to the U.S. government on Asian security affairs and a senior associate with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Facing the China Factor

Israel Halts Chinese Phalcon Deal

Wade Boese

Aiming to end a prolonged public dispute with Washington, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak told President Bill Clinton on July 11, the first day of a U.S.-brokered Middle East peace summit, that Israel would not complete a 1996 deal that would have given China its first advanced airborne early-warning (AEW) capability. Although upsetting China, the Israeli cancellation averted U.S. congressional threats to withhold aid to Israel if the AEW deal went forward. Washington and Tel Aviv are now holding high-level talks on strengthening their "strategic relationship" and avoiding similar future conflicts.

The United States went public last fall with its long-held opposition to the estimated $1 billion deal for four Phalcon radar systems when the first Russian-supplied plane destined for China arrived in Israel to be outfitted with the system. Designed to provide simultaneous long-range tracking of multiple air and surface targets, the Phalcon radar system, according to U.S. government officials, could impact the Taiwan Strait military balance in China's favor.

Citing the "need to help intimate relations" with the United States during and after the summit, Israel, the largest recipient of U.S. foreign assistance, publicly announced on July 12 that it would stop implementation of the Phalcon deal. The announcement emphasized that Israel considered itself to be "together with the United States in the midst of an effort to achieve historic decisions which are related to [Israel's] vital interests." While the summit ended July 25 without a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, reported Israeli expectations are that if a future peace deal is concluded with the Palestinians or Syria, the United States will provide significant military and financial assistance to Israel.

In announcing the cancellation, Israeli spokesman Gadi Baltiansky stated Israel would "continue to look for ways to implement the [Phalcon] deal" if circumstances changed. However, U.S. congressional and administration sources, as well as an Israeli official with close knowledge of the issue, said the deal is off. The Israeli official noted that "no one" expects circumstances to change in the short or medium term.

Barak resisted U.S. calls earlier this year, even in personal meetings with Clinton and Defense Secretary William Cohen, to void the sale. (See ACT, May 2000.) Describing the final decision as "difficult," the Israeli official pointed to a combination of Cohen's April 3 visit, when he forcefully voiced U.S. concerns, and rising opposition by U.S. Congress members, including long-time Israel supporters, as turning points in Israeli thinking on the issue.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) and four other senior senators sent a bipartisan April 6 letter to Barak expressing their "deep concerns" with Israel's military cooperation with China and warned it could negatively affect U.S.-Israeli relations. The senators implied that Israel would risk the potential "multi-billion dollar U.S. aid package" being discussed as part of a possible peace agreement with Syria if the Phalcon deal went forward.

Representative Sonny Callahan (R-AL), chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs, proposed legislation to hold back Israeli aid worth $250 million—the value of one Phalcon system—unless the Pentagon certified that the deal did not pose a threat to U.S. national security. Clinton requested a total of $2.82 billion in U.S. aid for Israel over the next fiscal year.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms (R-NC) also filed, but never officially introduced, the Callahan language on the Senate side. Helms, according to one of his spokesmen, "expected more from an ally than to provide this type of weapon system to a potential adversary." Remarks by Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh in mid-June suggesting Israel could cut imports from the United States if Washington cut aid had further raised Helms' ire.

Callahan dropped his legislation after Israeli Ambassador David Ivry informed the congressman of Israel's decision to stop the sale. Speaking to the House that day, Callahan called the cancellation a "tremendous step in the right direction." Helms' spokesman described the senator as "greatly relieved" by Israel's decision.

Barak, according to Baltiansky, expressed his "sorrow" by letter to Chinese President Jiang Zemin for Israel's cancellation of the deal and reassured him that Israel attached "great importance to her relations with China." Israel started marketing arms to China in 1979.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said July 13 that the deal should be "honored" and that no other country should interfere in Chinese relations with other states. Later that day, Cohen, who was in Beijing when Israel announced its plan, said Jiang raised the issue as one of "concern." Cohen acknowledged U.S. opposition to the sale, but denied it reflected any attempt to "contain China."

Clinton announced July 27 that the United States would conduct a "comprehensive review" to improve U.S.-Israeli relations, including the maintenance of Israel's "qualitative edge" and the modernization of the Israeli military. Although State Department officials would not comment on the talks, the first round of which took place August 7 to 9 in Washington, they reportedly included discussions of Israel vetting with the United States arms sales to specific countries—China, India, Pakistan, and Russia.

U.S.-China Arms Talks Resume

J. Peter Scoblic

After a 19-month hiatus, the United States and China resumed arms control talks in July, but high-level visits to Beijing failed to resolve Washington's concerns about China's transfer of missile technology to Pakistan. Those concerns were fueled during the summer by new reported U.S. intelligence in late June and by the August release of a biannual CIA report on proliferation. The new information also bolstered support for legislation that would punish Beijing and Chinese firms found to be violating proliferation norms.

In late June and early July, The New York Times and the Far Eastern Economic Review reported that, according to U.S. intelligence sources, China has increased its assistance to Pakistan's missile program and may be helping Pakistan construct a second factory to build M-11 missiles. The M-11 is a nuclear-capable missile with a reported range of 300 kilometers, meaning that it falls within the purview of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). U.S. officials would not comment on the reports, but they noted that China's missile cooperation with Pakistan has been a matter of concern for years.

The United States first imposed sanctions on Pakistani and Chinese entities in 1991 under provisions of the 1990 Defense Authorization Act governing the transfer of missile technology. However, the sanctions were waived the next year after Beijing agreed to abide by the terms of the MTCR, though it did not formally join the regime. In 1993, the United States again imposed sanctions against China and Pakistan for the transfer of M-11 related equipment and technology. Once again, the sanctions were lifted the next year after China promised to adhere to MTCR guidelines.

John Holum, U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control, discussed U.S. concerns about China's continued transfer of missile technology to Pakistan during a trip to Beijing in early July. The visit marked the first round of formal U.S.-Chinese arms control talks since November 1998. Beijing stopped all discussions with Washington following the May 1999 bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade during the U.S.-led airwar against Yugoslavia.

In a July 8 press briefing, Holum said that while he did address Chinese-Pakistani missile cooperation during his meetings with Chinese officials, the issue "remains unresolved." During the briefing, however, Holum stressed that China has dramatically improved its commitment to non-proliferation in recent years and said that there are "many more areas of agreement than disagreement" between the two countries.

Holum's trip was followed by a visit by Defense Secretary William Cohen, who arrived in Beijing on July 12 for talks on re-establishing military-to-military contacts. In a press conference after meeting with his Chinese counterpart, General Chi Haotian, Cohen said that China had denied transferring missile technology to Pakistan or any other country but that "the matter is still under discussion."

Chinese officials insist that Beijing has not continued to aid Lahore's M-11 program. According to a spokesman at the Chinese embassy in Washington, "There is not a missile cooperation program between China and Pakistan." The spokesman went on to say that Beijing is "seriously considering" joining the MTCR. However, an unclassified CIA report presented biannual to Congress and released August 8 noted that "Chinese entities provided increased assistance to Pakistan's ballistic missile program during the second half of 1999."

 

Thompson Bill

The media coverage and the CIA report were used by Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN) as further justification for a bill he introduced May 25 termed the China Nonproliferation Act (S. 2645). As originally written, the law would require the president to submit an annual report to Congress on any Chinese entities engaged in exporting items that could be used in weapons of mass destruction, ballistic and cruise missiles, or advanced conventional weapons. The act mandates sanctions against those entities and the Chinese government.

Although the bill has bipartisan support, it was not brought to a vote this summer, partly because of resistance from the White House. The administration objected to the non-proliferation bill's exclusive focus on China and the fact that it would limit the ways in which the president could respond to evidence of proliferation. Disagreement over the bill held up legislation establishing permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with China—a high priority for the Clinton administration.

Following meetings with congressional leaders and administration representatives, Thompson announced July 25 that he had revised the bill. Specifically, he said that the scope of the bill had been enlarged to include not just China but all proliferating countries, as identified by the CIA, and that the modified legislation gave the president more leeway in imposing sanctions.

The revised legislation has not yet been formally submitted, and the Senate recessed for August without taking any action. According to a Thompson staffer, it is not likely that the legislation will be brought to a floor as a stand-alone bill. Thompson may therefore choose to attach the China Nonproliferation Act to the PNTR legislation in order to ensure action this fall, the staffer said.

U.S.-China Arms Talks Resume

China Repeats Call for CD Outer Space Talks

July/August 2000

Without naming the United States, on June 22, China cited national and theater missile defenses as examples of programs aimed at the domination of outer space. Speaking to the UN Conference on Disarmament (CD), Ambassador Hu Xiaodi repeated China's long-standing call for the 66-member conference to begin negotiations to prevent an arms race in outer space. Sole U.S. opposition to such negotiations, combined with China's refusal to start any negotiations without formal outer space talks, has prevented the conference, which operates by consensus, from starting any arms control negotiations this year. Claiming that current efforts to amend the 1972 ABM Treaty, which proscribes national strategic missile defenses, are only the "tip of the iceberg," Hu warned that the ABM Treaty would be "increasingly weakened, leading to its total abolition." According to Hu, such a development would lead to the weaponization of and an arms race in outer space, as well as "trigger off global weapons proliferation." If negotiations do not start now to prevent the weaponization of outer space, Hu concluded that the CD would eventually need to undertake negotiations on the disarmament of outer space.

The United States, which is seeking to modify the ABM Treaty to permit a limited U.S. national missile defense, maintains that there is no arms race in outer space and that the 1967 Outer Space Treaty banning the stationing of weapons of mass destruction in outer space is sufficient. Washington's preference is to start negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty and to discuss, but not negotiate on, outer space as well as nuclear disarmament. But Hu indicated that China wanted "negotiating mechanisms" for all three items.

At this year's nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference, the NPT states-parties, which include China, urged the conference to complete negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty within five years. Conference members last agreed on cutoff negotiations in August 1998, but formal talks did not get underway before the negotiating session expired.

The conference concludes the second of its three working periods July 7. Finland's CD ambassador, also speaking June 22, warned that there was little time left to reach an agreement for doing any substantive work in the CD's final negotiating session this year, scheduled to take place from August 7 to September 22.

China Repeats Call for CD Outer Space Talks

Israel Rebuffs U.S. Demand To Cancel China Arms Deal

May 2000

By Wade Boese

Despite strong public opposition from the United States, Israel is proceeding with the sale to China of an advanced airborne early-warning (AEW) radar system, which U.S. officials warn could affect the strategic balance between China and Taiwan. After April meetings with Defense Secretary William Cohen and President Bill Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak would say only that Israel would continue discussions on the deal with the United States.

In a 1996 deal with China worth approximately $1 billion, Israel agreed to equip four Russian-supplied aircraft with the Phalcon system, a state-of-the-art, long-range radar capable of simultaneously tracking multiple airborne and surface targets. U.S. government officials believe, and Israeli officials insist, that no U.S. technology is involved.

If delivered, the Phalcon system—previously supplied to Chile—would provide China's first airborne early-warning and control capability. Taiwan's inventory includes four U.S.-made AEW Hawkeye aircraft, and two more are scheduled for delivery in 2004.

Informed of the sale in June 1996, U.S. opposition only became public last fall. State Department and Pentagon officials contend that Washington has voiced its concerns through diplomatic and military channels since 1996. A National Security Council (NSC) spokesperson said the administration has raised the issue "regularly and repeatedly."

Meeting with Barak on April 3 during a 10-nation visit to Africa and the Middle East, Cohen told a joint press conference, held with the Israeli prime minister, that the United States objected to the Phalcon deal because of its "potential of changing the balance" in the Taiwan Strait. A week later, Cohen repeated Washington's strong opposition and described the sale as "counterproductive" because the technology could find its way back to Israeli rivals in the Middle East.

Barak told the April 3 press conference that Israel was "aware of the sensitivity in the United States with regard to China." However, he said Israel was also "aware of [its] commitments in the contracts that [it has] signed." Barak finished by saying Israel understood the need for "close coordination and contact" with the United States. A senior U.S. administration official reported that Barak repeated similar sentiments in an April 11 meeting with President Bill Clinton in Washington and that discussions would continue.

Barak later met with Chinese President Jiang Zemin in Israel during the first-ever visit to that country by a Chinese head of state. At a joint press conference April 13, Barak intervened twice to answer questions addressed to Jiang about the deal. While again noting U.S. concerns, Barak described Israeli credibility and Israeli relations with China as being of "high importance."

Israel is concerned about canceling the deal and upsetting China, which Israeli officials worry could lead China to increase weapons exports to countries hostile to Israel. In addition, Israel is reluctant to forfeit a profitable deal with a long-time arms customer that could be picked up by British or French companies that competed for the original sale.

An official for BAE Systems, a British company that manufactures AEW systems, said talks with China have been dormant for several months and that BAE is not currently pursuing any deal. The NSC spokesperson remarked that the United States is "prepared to engage other countries in expressing our concerns about issues that could affect the stability of the Asia- Pacific region." When asked, a U.K. government official said he was "not aware of any direct U.S. government lobbying effort on this particular issue."

In his proposed fiscal year 2001 budget, Clinton requested a total of $2.82 billion in military aid and economic support for Israel. Representative Sonny Callahan (R-AL), chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs, indicated he would put a hold on $250 million—the value of one Phalcon system—of the proposed aid unless the Pentagon certifies that the Israeli deal does not jeopardize U.S. national security interests. State Department spokesman James Rubin, however, said April 10 that the radar deal should not be tied to U.S. foreign aid.

Israel, the largest recipient of U.S. aid, is also seeking a security package worth approximately $17 billion, involving arms, as well as greater intelligence and early-warning cooperation with the United States, as part of a potential Israeli peace deal with Syria. With the Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations currently stalled, talks on the proposed U.S. security package have been put on hold.

Israel Rebuffs U.S. Demand To Cancel China Arms Deal

Lockheed Martin Charged With Sharing Rocket Data With China

May 2000

By Wade Boese

On April 4, the State Department accused Lockheed Martin of violating arms export control laws by supplying sensitive rocket information to a company partially owned by the Chinese government. Lockheed Martin allegedly provided Asia Satellite Telecommunications Corporation (Asiasat) with a technical assessment of a solid-fueled kick motor that was later used in the launch of the Asiasat-2 communications satellite, which had been purchased from the U.S. aerospace firm.

The satellite was launched in 1995 on a Chinese Long March rocket, a model that had failed twice in 1992 to deliver satellites to their targets. In 1994, at the behest of Asiasat, a Lockheed Martin team visited a test-launch facility in China and conducted an examination of the rocket's kick motor. The State Department contends that the transfer of the technical assessment produced as a result of the visit violated prohibitions on transfers of such information to the Chinese government.

The United States is concerned that the Lockheed report may have identified weaknesses that could help China's ballistic missile development and testing program. "We would be concerned at any…access to technology that we feel could be used against the United States," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral Craig Quigley explained April 6.

Lockheed Martin claims that Commerce and State Department licenses specifically allowed the transfer of its report to the respective parties. "The actions taken in 1994 were consistent with the licenses in place at that time," said James Fetig, a Lockheed Martin spokesperson.

The State Department maintains that additional licenses were required for technical details contained in the assessment and that Lockheed Martin released the report to Asiasat before the Defense Department had edited it to remove sensitive material. (Pentagon officials reportedly blacked out 45 pages of the 50-page document.) Lockheed Martin is also charged with sharing the edited version of the report with the state-owned China Great Wall Industry Corporation, which produces ballistic missiles for the Chinese military.

A China Great Wall Industry Corporation spokesman denied April 12 that the corporation had received any help from Lockheed Martin. "China has developed the satellite perigee kick motor entirely by relying on its own efforts. We have never acquired from Lockheed Martin or any other party technical assistance of whatever form in this regard," he said.

The State Department action was praised by Representatives Christopher Cox (R-CA) and Norman Dicks (D-WA), who headed a bipartisan select committee in 1998 to investigate similar allegations against two other U.S. companies, Hughes Space and International, Inc. and Space Systems/Loral. The committee's January 1999 report, known as the "Cox Report," argued for stronger controls on satellite exports to China. (See ACT, April/May 1999.)

Unlike the allegations involving Hughes and Loral, the State Department is seeking civil penalties, not criminal sanctions, against Lockheed Martin. The company could face fines of up to $15 million and lose the right to export satellite technology for up to three years. Lockheed Martin has 30 days, until May 4, to formally respond to the charges.

Lockheed Martin Charged With Sharing Rocket Data With China

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