TMCnet News

FOCUS: China-Taiwan nuclear confrontation averted+
[January 31, 2006]

FOCUS: China-Taiwan nuclear confrontation averted+


Chinese threats erupted all at once in the United States at the end of the 1990s when Wen Ho Lee, a Taiwanese-American nuclear arms scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, was arrested.

American people were astonished in May 1999 when a select committee of the House of Representatives announced that China had obtained technology information about seven kinds of nuclear weapons, including a missile nuclear warhead deployed by the U.S. military.

But a panel convened by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency reached a different conclusion. It said, "The aggressive Chinese collection effort has not resulted in any apparent modernization of their deployed strategic force or any new nuclear-weapons deployment."

Lee was indicted on 59 charges, but was found to be responsible only for a minor offense.

China, however, did obtain U.S. nuclear technology information. And evidence of that, strangely enough, was found in a document that China's intelligence agency delivered to the U.S. side.

In 1995, a Chinese "walk-in," or voluntary informant, provided the top-secret information to CIA. It included design information on the W88 H-bomb warhead for U.S. submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

The CIA later determined that this "walk-in" informant had been directed by China's intelligence services. The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the information leak, and Lee's name surfaced.

But it is still unknown why China tipped its hand.

Nuclear development by China and Taiwan were conducted amid an intense intelligence war. Immediately after October 1964, when China conducted its first nuclear test, the U.S. administration studied the possibility of destroying its nuclear facilities.

The president's task force committee, known as the Gilpatric Committee after its chairman, former Deputy Secretary of Defense Roswell Gilpatric, studied the possibility of recommending launching an air raid on Chinese nuclear weapons facilities as part of a program to check nuclear proliferation.

One of the possibilities, an "air drop of (Taiwan's) sabotage teams," also received "serious consideration."

But two months later, the United States abandoned the plans due to the military risks involved.

Three years later, Taiwan secretly began to develop nuclear weapons, but in 1988, Chang Hsien-yi, deputy head of the Taiwan Institute of Nuclear Energy Research, defected to the United States and provided information

Under pressure from the U.S. government, Taiwan suspended nuclear development, which was at the final stage, nipping in the bud nuclear confrontation between China and Taiwan. Chang turned out to be a spy for the CIA.

[ Back To's Homepage ]