Important Note: This declassified report summarizes many important findings and judgments contained in the Select Committee's classified Report, issued January 3, 1999. U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies within the Clinton administration have determined that other significant findings and judgments contained in the Select Committee's classified Report cannot be publicly disclosed without affecting national security or ongoing criminal investigations.1.
• The People's Republic of China (PRC) has stolen design information on the United States' most advanced thermonuclear weapons.
• The Select Committee judges that the PRC's next generation of thermonuclear weapons, currently under development, will exploit elements of stolen U.S. design information.
• PRC penetration of our national weapons laboratories spans at least the past several decades and almost certainly continues today.
A. The People's Republic of China (PRC) has stolen design information on the United States' most advanced thermonuclear weapons.
The People's Republic of China (PRC) has stolen classified design information on the United States' most advanced thermonuclear weapons. These thefts of nuclear secrets from our national weapons laboratories enabled the PRC to design, develop, and successfully test modern strategic nuclear weapons sooner than would otherwise have been possible. The stolen U.S. nuclear secrets give the PRC design information on thermonuclear weapons on a par with our own.
The PRC thefts from our National Laboratories began at least as early as the late 1970s, and significant secrets are known to have been stolen as recently as the mid-1990s. Such thefts almost certainly continue to the present.
• The stolen information includes classified information on seven U.S. thermonuclear warheads, including every currently deployed thermonuclear warhead in the U.S. ballistic missile arsenal.
• The stolen information also includes classified design information for an enhanced radiation weapon (commonly known as the "neutron bomb"), which neither the United States, nor any other nation, has yet deployed.
• The PRC has obtained classified information on the following U.S. thermonuclear warheads, as well as a number of associated reentry vehicles (the hardened shell that protects the thermonuclear warhead during reentry).
In addition, in the mid-1990s the PRC stole, possibly from a U.S. national weapons laboratory, classified thermonuclear weapons information that cannot be identified in this unclassified Report. Because this recent espionage case is currently under investigation and involves sensitive intelligence sources and methods, the Clinton administration has determined that further information cannot be made public without affecting national security or ongoing criminal investigations.
The W-88, a miniaturized, tapered warhead, is the most sophisticated nuclear weapon the United States has ever built. In the U.S. arsenal, it is mated to the D-5 submarine-launched ballistic missile carried aboard the Trident nuclear submarine. The United States learned about the theft of the W-88 Trident D-5 warhead information, as well as about the theft of information regarding several other nuclear weapons, in 1995.
The PRC has stolen U.S. design information and other classified information for neutron bomb warheads. The PRC stole classified U.S. information about the neutron bomb from a U.S. national weapons laboratory. The U.S. learned of the theft of this classified information on the neutron bomb in 1996.
In the late 1970s, the PRC stole design information on the U.S. W-70 warhead from the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. The U.S. government first learned of this theft several months after it took place. The W-70 warhead contains elements that may be used either as a strategic thermonuclear weapon, or as an enhanced weapon ("neutron bomb"). The PRC tested the neutron bomb in 1988.
The Select Committee is aware of other PRC thefts of U.S. thermonuclear weapons-related secrets. The Clinton administration has determined that further information about PRC thefts of U.S. thermonuclear weapons-related secrets cannot be publicly disclosed without affecting national security.
The PRC acquired this and other classified U.S. nuclear weapons information as the result of a 20-year intelligence collection program to develop modern thermonuclear weapons, continuing to this very day, that includes espionage, review of unclassified publications, and extensive interactions with scientists from the Department of Energy's national weapons laboratories.
The Select Committee has found that the primary focus of this long-term, ongoing PRC intelligence collection effort has been on the following national weapons laboratories: Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore, OakRidge and Sandia.
The Select Committee judges that the PRC will exploit elements of the stolen design information on the PRC's next generation of thermonuclear weapons. The PRC plans to supplement its silo-based CSS-4 ICBMs targeted on U.S. cities with mobile ICBMs, which are more survivable because they are more difficult to find than silo-based missiles.
The PRC has three mobile ICBM programs currently underway—two road-mobile and one submarine-launched program—all of which will be able to strike the United States.
The first of these new People's Liberation Army (PLA) mobile ICBMs, the DF-31, may be tested in 1999, and could be deployed as soon as 2002. These mobile missiles require small warhead designs, of which the stolen U.S. design information is the most advanced in the world.
In addition, the PRC could choose to use elements of the stolen nuclear weapons design information—including the neutron bomb—on intermediate- and short-range ballistic missiles, such as its CSS-6 missiles.
The PRC has the infrastructure and technical ability to use elements of the stolen U.S. warhead design information in the PLA's next generation of thermonuclear weapons. The Select Committee concludes that the production tools and processes required by the PRC to produce small thermonuclear warheads based on the stolen U.S. design information, including the stolen W-88 information, would be similar to those developed or available in a modern aerospace or precision-guided munitions industry. The Select Committee judges that the PRC has such infrastructure and is capable of such production.
The Select Committee judges that the PRC is likely to continue its work on advanced thermonuclear weapons based on the stolen U.S. design information. The PRC could begin serial production of such weapons during the next decade in connection with the development of its next generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
A series of PRC nuclear weapons test explosions from 1992 to 1996 began a debate in the U.S. Government about whether the PRC's designs for its new generation of nuclear warheads were in fact based on stolen U.S. classified information. The apparent purpose of these PRC tests was to develop smaller, lighter thermonuclear warheads, with an increased yield-to-weight ratio.
The United States did not become fully aware of the magnitude of the counterintelligence problem at the Department of Energy national weapons laboratories until 1995. In 1995 the United States received a classified PRC document that demonstrated that the PRC had obtained U.S. design information on the W-88 warhead and technical information concerning approximately half a dozen other U.S. thermonuclear warheads and associated reentry vehicles.
The document was provided by a PRC national, unsolicited by the CIA—a "walk in." This individual approached the CIA outside the PRC, and turned over a number of documents. Among these was an official PRC document classified "Secret" by the PRC.
This PRC document included, among other matters, stolen U.S. design information on the W-88 thermonuclear warhead used on the Trident D-5 missile, as well as U.S. technical information on several other strategic U.S. nuclear warheads. The document recognized that the U.S. weapons represented the state-of-the-art against which PRC nuclear weapons should be measured.
By mid-1996 the CIA had determined that the individual who provided the information was secretly under the direction of the PRC intelligence services. The CIA and other U.S. intelligence community analysts have nevertheless concluded that the classified PRC document contained U.S. thermonuclear warhead design information and other technical information on U.S. nuclear weapons.
The stolen U.S. nuclear secrets give the PRC design information on thermonuclear weapons on a par with our own. Currently deployed PRC ICBMs targeted on U.S. cities are based on 1950s-era nuclear weapons designs. With the stolen U.S. technology, the PRC has leaped, in a handful of years, from 1950s-era strategic nuclear capabilities to the more modern thermonuclear weapons designs. These modern thermonuclear weapons took the United States decades of effort, hundreds of millions of dollars, and numerous nuclear tests to achieve.
Such small, modern warheads are necessary for all of the elements of a modern intercontinental nuclear force, including: road-mobile ICBMs, submarine-launched ICBMs and ICBMs with multiple warheads (MRVs or MIRVs).
The PRC has an ongoing program to use these modern thermonuclear warheads on its next generation of ICBMs, currently in development. Without the nuclear secrets stolen from the United States, it would have been virtually impossible for the PRC to fabricate and test successfully small nuclear warheads prior to its 1996 pledge to adhere to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
B. The Select Committee judges that elements of the stolen information on U.S. thermonuclear warhead designs will assist the PRC in building its next generation of mobile ICBMs, which may be tested this year.
The stolen U.S. design information will assist the PRC in building smaller nuclear warheads—vital to the success of the PRC's ongoing efforts to develop survivable, mobile missiles. Current PRC ICBMs, which are silo-based, are more vulnerable to attack than mobile missiles.
The PRC has currently underway three intercontinental mobile missile programs—two road-mobile, and one submarine-launched. All of these missiles are capable of targeting the United States.
The first of these, the road-mobile solid-propellant DF-31, may be tested in 1999. Given a successful flight-test program, the DF-31 could be ready for deployment in 2002.
The Select Committee judges that the PRC will in fact use a small nuclear warhead on its new generation ICBMs. The small, mobile missiles that the PRC is developing require smaller warheads than the large, heavy, 1950s-era warheads developed for the PRC's silo-based missiles. The main purpose of a series of nuclear tests conducted by the PRC between 1992 and 1996 was evidently to develop new smaller, lighter warheads with an increased yield-to-weight ratio for use with the PRC's new, mobile nuclear forces.
The Select Committee judges that the PRC will exploit elements of the stolen U.S. thermonuclear weapons designs on its new ICBMs currently under development. The advanced U.S. thermonuclear warheads for which the PRC has stolen U.S. design information are significantly smaller than those for which the PRC's silo-based missiles were designed. The U.S. designs, unlike those in the PRC's currently-deployed arsenal, can be used on smaller mobile missiles.
The Select Committee judges that:
• The PRC is likely to continue to work on small thermonuclear warheads based on stolen U.S. design information;
• The PRC has the infrastructure and ability to produce such warheads, including warheads based on elements of the stolen U.S. W-88 Trident D5 design information;
• The PRC could begin serial production of small thermonuclear warheads during the next decade in conjunction with its new generation of road-mobile missiles;
• The introduction of small warheads into PLA service could coincide with the initial operational capability of the DF-31, which could be ready for deployment in 2002.
These small warhead designs will make it possible for the PRC to develop and deploy missiles with multiple reentry vehicles (MRVs or independently targetable MIRVs).
Multiple reentry vehicles increase the effectiveness of a ballistic missile force by multiplying the number of warheads a single missile can carry as many as ten-fold.
Multiple reentry vehicles also can help to counter missile defenses. For example, multiple reentry vehicles make it easier for the PRC to deploy penetration aids with its ICBM warheads in order to defeat anti-missile defenses.
The Select Committee is aware of reports that the PRC has in the past undertaken efforts related to technology with MIRV applications. Experts agree that the PRC now has the capability to develop and deploy silo-based intercontinental ballistic missiles with multiple reentry vehicles (MIRVs or MRVs).
Experts also agree that the PRC could have this capability for its new mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles within a reasonable period of years that is consistent with its plans to deploy these new mobile missiles. The PRC could pursue one or more penetration aids in connection with its new nuclear missiles.
If the PRC violates the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty by testing surreptitiously, it could further accelerate its nuclear development.
The Select Committee judges that, if the PRC were successful in stealing nuclear test codes, computer models, and data from the United States, it could further accelerate its nuclear development. By using such stolen codes and data in conjunction with High Performance Computers (HPCs) already acquired by the PRC, the PRC could diminish its need for further nuclear testing to evaluate weapons and propose design changes.
The possession of the stolen U.S. test data could greatly reduce the level of HPC performance required for such tasks. For these reasons, the Select Committee judges that the PRC has and will continue to aggressively target for theft our nuclear test codes, computer models, and data.
Although the United States has been the victim of systematic espionage successfully targeted against our most advanced nuclear weapons designs—and although the Select Committee judges that the PRC will exploit elements of those designs for its new generation of ICBMs—the United States retains an overwhelming qualitative and quantitative advantage in deployed strategic nuclear forces. Nonetheless, in a crisis in which the United States confronts the PRC's conventional and nuclear forces at the regional level, a modernized PRC strategic nuclear ballistic missile force would pose a credible direct threat against the United States.
Neither the United States nor the PRC has a national ballistic missile defense system.
In the near term, a PRC deployment of mobile thermonuclear weapons, or neutron bombs, based on stolen U.S. design information, could have a significant effect on the regional balance of power, particularly with respect to Taiwan. PRC deployments of advanced nuclear weapons based on stolen U.S. design information would pose greater risks to U.S. troops and interests in Asia and the Pacific.
In addition, the PRC's theft of information on our most modern nuclear weapons designs enables the PRC to deploy modern forces much sooner than would otherwise be possible.
At the beginning of the l990s, the PRC had only one or two silo-based ICBMs capable of attacking the United States. Since then, the PRC has deployed up to two dozen additional silo-based ICBMs capable of attacking the United States; has upgraded its silo-based missiles; and has continued development of three mobile ICBM systems and associated modern thermonuclear warheads.
If the PRC is successful in developing modern nuclear forces, as seems likely, and chooses to deploy them in sufficient numbers, then the long-term balance of nuclear forces with the United States could be adversely affected.
C. Despite repeated PRC thefts of the most sophisticated U.S. nuclear weapons technology, security at our national nuclear weapons laboratories does not meet even minimal standards.
The PRC stole design information on the United States' most advanced thermonuclear weapons as a result of a sustained espionage effort targeted at the United States' nuclear weapons facilities, including our national weapons laboratories. The successful penetration by the PRC of our nuclear weapons laboratories has taken place over the last several decades, and almost certainly continues to the present.
More specifically, the Select Committee has concluded that the successful penetration of our National Laboratories by the PRC began as early as the late 1970s; the PRC had penetrated the Laboratories throughout the 1980s and 1990s; and our Laboratories almost certainly remain penetrated by the PRC today.
Our national weapons laboratories are responsible for, among other things, the design of thermonuclear warheads for our ballistic missiles. The information at our national weapons laboratories about our thermonuclear warheads is supposed to be among our nation's most closely guarded secrets.
Counterintelligence programs at the national weapons laboratories today fail to meet even minimal standards. Repeated efforts since the early 1980s have failed to solve the counterintelligence deficiencies at the National Laboratories. While one of the Laboratories has adopted better counterintelligence practices than the others, all remain inadequate.
Even though the United States discovered in 1995 that the PRC had stolen design information on the W-88 Trident D-5 warhead and technical information on a number of other U.S. thermonuclear warheads, the White House has informed the Select Committee, in response to specific interrogatories propounded by the Committee, that the President was not briefed about the counterintelligence failures until early 1998.
Moreover, given the great significance of the PRC thefts, the Select Committee is concerned that the appropriate committees of the Congress were not adequately briefed on the extent of the PRC's espionage efforts.
A counterintelligence and security plan adopted by the Department of Energy in late 1998 in response to Presidential Decision Directive 61 is a step toward establishing sound counterintelligence practices. However, according to the head of these efforts, significant time will be required to implement improved security procedures pursuant to the directive. Security at the national weapons laboratories will not be satisfactory until at least sometime in the year 2000.Selected Overview Findings On Missile and Space Technology
The PRC has stolen or otherwise illegally obtained U.S. missile and space technology that improves the PRC's military and intelligence capabilities.A. The PRC has stolen U.S. missile technology and exploited it for the PRC's own ballistic missile applications.
The PRC has proliferated such military technology to a number of other countries, including regimes hostile to the United States.B. In the late 1990s, the PRC stole or illegally obtained U.S. developmental and research technology that, if taken to successful conclusion, could be used to attack U.S. satellites and submarines.
….C. Currently deployed PRC ICBMs targeted on the United States are based in significant part on U.S. technologies illegally obtained by the PRC in the 1950s.
This illustrates the potential long-term effects of technology loss.D. In the aftermath of three failed satellite launches since 1992, U.S. satellite manufacturers transferred missile design information and know-how to the PRC without obtaining the legally required licenses.
This information has improved the reliability of PRC rockets useful for civilian and military purposes.E. In light of the PRC's aggressive espionage campaign against U.S. technology, it would be surprising if the PRC has not exploited security lapses that have occurred in connection with launches of U.S. satellites in the PRC.
The illegally transmitted information is useful for the design and improved reliability of future PRC ballistic missiles, as well.
….F. Foreign brokers and underwriters of satellite and space launch insurance have obtained controlled U.S. space and missile-related technology outside of the system of export controls that applies to U.S. satellite manufacturers.
While existing laws address such exports, U.S. export control authorities may not be adequately enforcing these laws in the space insurance industry context, nor paying sufficient attention to these practices.G. The Strom Thurmond National Defense Authorization Act took important steps to correct deficiencies in the administration of U.S. export controls on commercial space launches in the PRC.
But the aggressive implementation of this law is vital, and other problems with launches in the PRC that the Act does not address require immediate attention.H. It is in the national security interest of the United States to increase U.S. domestic launch capacity.
….Selected Overview Findings on Export Controls
United States and international export control policies and practices have facilitated the PRC's efforts to obtain militarily useful technology.A. Recent changes in international and domestic export control regimes have reduced the ability to control transfers of militarily useful technology.
i. The dissolution of COCOM in 1994 left the United States without an effective, multilateral means to control exports of militarily useful goods and technology.B. Dividing the licensing responsibilities for satellites between the Departments of Commerce and State permitted the loss of U.S. technology to the PRC.
ii. The expiration of the Export Administration Act in 1994 has left export controls under different legislative authority that, among other things, carries lesser penalties for export violations than those that can be imposed under the Act.
iii. U.S. policy changes announced in 1995 that reduced the time available for national security agencies to consider export licenses need to be reexamined in light of the volume and complexity of licensing activities.
The 1996 decision to give Commerce the lead role in satellite exporting was properly reversed by the Congress.C. U.S. policies relying on corporate self-policing to prevent technology loss have not worked.
Corporate self-policing does not sufficiently account for the risks posed by inherent conflicts of interest, and the lack of priority placed on security in comparison to other corporate objectives.D. The PRC requires high performance computers (HPCs) for the design, modeling, testing, and maintenance of advanced nuclear weapons based on the nuclear weapons design information stolen from the United States.
The United States relaxed restrictions on HPC sales in 1996; and the United States has no effective way to verify that HPC purchases reportedly made for commercial purposes are not diverted to military uses.E. The PRC has attempted to obtain U.S. machine tools and jet engine technologies through fraud and diversions from commercial end uses.
The Select Committee judges that the PRC has in fact used HPCs to perform nuclear weapons applications.
In one 1991 case studied by the Select Committee, the Department of Commerce decontrolled jet engines without consulting either the Defense Department or the State Department.Selected Overview Findings On Chinese Technology Acquisition
i. In 1994 and 1995 the PRC attempted to divert an export of machine tools by McDonnell Douglas to military uses.
ii. In 1991 the Commerce Department decontrolled Garrett jet engines without consulting either the Defense Department or the State Department. This led to a PRC effort to acquire related jet engine production technology. The Commerce Department was prepared to approve this transfer, which was only thwarted when the Defense Department was alerted by the U.S. embassy in Beijing.
• The PRC seeks advanced military technology to achieve its long-term goals.A. The PRC has mounted a widespread effort to obtain U.S. military technologies by any means—legal or illegal.
• To acquire U.S. technology the PRC uses a variety of techniques, including espionage, controlled commercial entities, and a network of individuals and organizations that engage in a vast array of contacts with scientists, business people and academics.
These pervasive efforts pose a particularly significant threat to U.S. export control and counterintelligence efforts.B. Efforts to deny the PRC access to U.S. military technology are complicated by the broad range of items in which the PRC is interested, and by transfers to the PRC of Russian military and dual-use technologies, which may make the consequences of the PRC's thefts of U.S. technology more severe.
….C. The PRC uses commercial and political contacts to advance its efforts to obtain U.S. military, as well as commercial, technology.
….D. The PRC has proliferated nuclear, missile, and space-related technologies to a number of countries.