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China's Spying at Nuclear Labs Called 'Damaging'

May 10, 1999|From Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON — Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said Sunday that there was serious Chinese espionage in the U.S. government's nuclear weapons laboratories during the Clinton administration.

"There have been damaging security leaks. It started in the 80s and went into the 90s--during past administrations and the present administration," Richardson said on NBC-TV's "Meet the Press." Until now, the administration maintained that the espionage occurred before President Clinton took office.

"We're addressing the problem," Richardson said, adding that this week he would announce new counter-intelligence measures to battle the security lapses.

The new offensive comes on the heels of a report by the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, which found that intelligence shortfalls and lax monitoring of the launching of U.S. satellites in China and of computer use at national labs helped China enhance its ballistic missile fleet.

The Senate panel's 45-page report is the first of two following a yearlong congressional probe into U.S. technology transfers to China. The committee will release a more extensive, 700-page report later this year.

The report found, among other things, that General Motors Corp., Hughes Electronics and Loral Space & Communications Ltd. shared sensitive information with Chinese engineers after a failed launches.

Two key senators from the Senate Select Intelligence Committee said that they had also found evidence to support allegations that China had stolen national security secrets from U.S. nuclear labs.

"I have no doubt there has been Chinese espionage at a nuclear laboratory," said Sen. Bob Kerrey, a Nebraska Democrat and vice chairman of the committee. "The Chinese now have a better capability for both commercial and military satellites."

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