- Computer hackers hired by the Chinese government have
stolen highly classified information from America's nuclear weapons research
laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico.
- The electronic break-in early last year has been kept
secret until now, US intelligence sources told the Washington Times. The
Chinese obtained the equivalent of a stack of documents 3ft high,"
said one official. He added that the discovery proved the Chinese government
was using advanced computer spying techniques that Beijing's military have
been fine-tuning for several years.
- America used techniques developed by its National Security
Agency to trace the hackers to a research institute in Beijing, which is
believed to have been used in the past for spying. The information that
was stolen was believed to be extremely valuable to foreign government
weapons programmes, according to counter-intelligence officials.
- The information could help governments to save time and
money on their own research programmes and could threaten US security.
China is one of the most aggressive foreign powers seeking to glean data
on nuclear weapons via computer from US weapons laboratories, the official
said. The Chinese are known to use several forms of computer attack to
gain access to the information.
- News of the embarrassing security breach at the New Mexico
facility came just weeks after hard drives with sensitive information were
removed from the laboratory and returned six weeks later. Scientists in
the X Division who deal with nuclear weapons research are currently on
a paid one-week holiday because of the stress caused by the federal investigation
currently going on into the matter.
- A recent report to the US Congress on Chinese spying
produced by the FBI and CIA said China was the most aggressive foreign
power at looking for nuclear weapons information on US computer systems.
The National Security Agency spokesman, Fred Lash, refused to comment on
the latest infiltration. But Jim Danneskiold, a Los Alamos spokesman, said:
"There is an enormous amount of Chinese activity."
- Last year, Wen Ho Lee, a nuclear scientist, was dismissed
from Los Alamos for allegedly "mishandling sensitive nuclear weapons
information". He was arrested after an exhaustive investigation found
that China had obtained information about every US nuclear warhead, and
is awaiting trial.
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