By Geoff Metcalf
The Clinton administration allowed the export of advanced radiation-hardened microchip technology, vital electronic components for military satellites and nuclear weapons, to Russia and China.
The specialized computer chips are designed to withstand the intense radiation of space and global thermonuclear warfare.
Radiation-hardened chips were controlled under the State Department and the Defense Department as a "military" technology until 1996. In early 1996, all export license authority for radiation-hardened microchip technology was transferred to the Commerce Department by President Clinton.
On Jan. 13, 1999, the Commerce Department responded to a June 1998 Freedom of Information Act request for information on radiation-hardened chip technology transfers to China and Russia. The Commerce response, a two-page letter, states "we issued two licenses for Russia and three for China for the export of microprocessor technology."
The Commerce Department response noted that the licenses issued not only included the export of radiation-hardened chips to Russia and China but also included "non-U.S. citizens employed by U.S. firms in the U.S. to work with controlled microprocessor technology."
The response also stated that "BXA (Bureau of Export Administration) is unable to provide you with any more detailed information on these exports. Specific information on applications to export technology for microprocessor or microchips to China or Russia is being withheld ... from public disclosure unless the release of such information is determined by the Secretary to be in the national interest."
The Clinton administration allowed Chinese and Russian engineers inside the U.S. to study how chips designed to withstand intense radiation are manufactured. The Chinese and Russian engineers took those skills, techniques and equipment back to Russia and China to produce their own advanced, radiation-hardened, computer chips. The Commerce Department has more but will not give up the secret documents without a legal fight.
Military technology certainly went east and money certainly went west. The crossroads for the high-tech military commerce was the White House. The list of Clinton officials taking money from, or acting as agents for the Chinese government grows longer and goes to higher levels with each return of FOIA documents.
For example, Webster Hubbell was selected by Janet Reno in 1993 to oversee a secret encryption chip project. John Huang sought and obtained 37 classified briefings on encryption technology from the CIA. Both Hubbell and Huang were well paid by the Lippo Group, the Riady family empire run with the Chinese government as half partners.
In addition, there is abundant evidence that Chinese army agents met directly with Clinton officials to obtain military communications satellite technology. In August 1994, Lt. General Shen Roujun, the vice minister of the Commission of Science, Technology, and Industry for National Defense (COSTIND), met with Loral CEO Bernard Schwartz and Ron Brown in Beijing.
According to the GAO, COSTIND is "an agency of the Chinese military. ... COSTIND oversees development of China's weapon systems and is responsible for identifying and acquiring telecommunications technology applicable for military use."
The documents obtained from the Commerce Department clearly note the 1994 Peoples Liberation Army/Loral meeting was arranged by Ron Brown and President Clinton. General Shen arranged to buy satellites for the Chinese army from Loral using phony commercial licenses issued through Ron Brown's Commerce Department.
In February 1996, a Chinese Long March rocket carrying a Loral Intelsat satellite failed and crashed on lift-off. The Loral Intelsat payload was also destroyed. The Chinese intended to launch the Loral satellite into deep space as they had been paid to do by Mr. Schwartz.
However, it was discovered that a vital computer control board was missing from the satellite. The satellite would have failed in orbit. The missing board from the Loral Intelsat satellite is no mystery. Chinese engineers removed it and kept the board for examination. The stolen Loral electronics consist of radiation-hardened, encrypted, telemetry chips, stored in a hardened flight control box similar to those found on airliners.
The Chinese operation was the perfect crime. China could blame American engineers when the satellite failed to function. The sabotaged satellite would be given up as space junk and lost forever. The U.S. could not recover the satellite to discover the real cause of the failure without great expense.
However, fate took a twisted path, and so did the Chinese rocket. The Long March rocket failed on launch and crashed into a nearby Chinese village, killing over 200 innocent civilians. The failure of the Long March allowed the U.S. to recover the sealed satellite guidance box that revealed the control board of radiation-hardened chips was missing.
The NSA changed all U.S. satellite codes as a result of the stolen Loral chips, costing the taxpayer millions of dollars.
Further documentation obtained from the Defense Department shows that China has launched a massive and expensive laser weapons build-up. The new Chinese weapons include anti-cruise missile, anti-satellite and lasers designed to instantly "blind" soldiers on the battlefield. China has already deployed the blinding laser and is currently offering the man portable unit for export.
According to the documents, Chinese laser technology is being run by Li Hui, the director of the Beijing Institute of Remote Sensing Equipment. The Defense Department document noted that the Chinese "Institute of Remote Sensing" is actually a front for Army missile guidance design laboratories. The Institute of Remote Sensing is "a developer of optical precision and photoelectric guidance systems for surface-to-air missiles." Director Li Hui recently stated that "laser technology is the only effective means to counter cruise missiles."
Recent translations of PLA documentation shows the Chinese army has accelerated development of beam weapons. Red Chinese army doctrine states laser weapons will be used for "active jamming of electro-optics, blinding combatants and damaging sensors, causing laser guided weapons to deviate from their true targets and target destruction."
The newly declassified Defense Department documentation describes in detail the use of high speed computers with a powerful new laser, controlled through "fast-steering mirrors." The new laser uses "piezoelectric" actuators that flex very thin mirrors at high speeds to "compensate for beam wander caused by device jitter and atmospheric turbulence."
The system allows the laser to focus a powerful light beam over long distances. An air defense version of the new PLA laser is estimated to be able to deliver over 10,000 watts of output power on a target up to 500 miles away.
According to the Defense document, China will deploy an even more powerful ground-based laser by the year 2000. The new laser requires a "4 meter (M) diameter beam director mirror for an antisatellite mission. The Nanjing Astronomical Instrument Research Center ... is currently producing a 4.3 M (meter) diameter mirror for the Beijing Observatory. This mirror is scheduled to be installed in the year 2000."
In addition, the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings magazine has revealed that China is also offering a blinding laser weapon for export. The January 1999 issue of Proceedings noted the Chinese are now offering their ZM-87 battlefield laser on the open market.
The ZM-87 is a "dazzler" system, designed to disable night-vision equipment and to instantly blind combatants on the battlefield. Blinding lasers are banned by several international treaties. The ZM-87 resembles a conventional machine gun on a tripod mount with a separate power unit and sighting system.
The U.S. military, starved by Clinton budgets into a shell of its former self, cannot afford to counter the PLA laser. U.S. armed forces have deployed no counter-measures, such as simple protective glasses to shield soldiers from lasers. American pilots rely on aging night-vision equipment that cannot deal with the intense light-beam threat.
Furthermore, the current U.S. missile inventory relies on 1970s microchip technology with a fraction of the speed, resistance to radiation and capability of those in their PLA counter-parts. The American military relies on a satellite communications system that is rapidly degrading into useless junk. According to the GAO, the current U.S. military satellite network is already not capable of supporting a major war and will fail within the next five years.
In contrast, the success of the Communist Chinese espionage effort to penetrate America can be measured by the sudden and rapid advance of PLA weapons during Bill Clinton's presidency. China has taken a great leap forward from the frail force of ex-Soviet 1950s, vacuum tube driven, left-overs, deployed in December 1992.
Current PLA weapons such as the C.802 cruise missile, the DF-15 mobile, tactical-ballistic missile and the Hong-7 super-sonic bomber, all use state-of-the-art, radiation-hardened, microchips. These advanced