- U.S. intelligence officials have accelerated
yet again their nightmare timetable on stolen nuclear technologies: the
Chinese military could be within two and a half years of adding to its
arsenal a nuclear warhead capable of reaching the shores of the United
- Fox News has learned that sources within
the intelligence community believe that the Chinese military could by
2002 integrate secrets stolen from U.S. weapons labs into its arsenal,
including the information required to construct a W-88 miniaturized nuclear
warhead. The latest information contradicts CIA assurances last month
that the Chinese were 10 years away from employing any of the stolen technologies.
That CIA timetable had allowed politicians on capitol hill to play down
the growing scandal which centers around allegations that classified
military secrets have been leaking from the United States for more than
- U.S. military intelligence sources say
China's long range Dong Feng-31 missile is currently being armed with
miniaturized nuclear warheads alarmingly similar to the American W-88.
The Dong Feng has a range of 5,000 miles, meaning it could hit targets
in the United States.
- Secrets for the W-88 were stolen from
U.S. weapons labs like Los Alamos between 1984 and 1997. The W-88 is used
by the U.S. on the Trident missile which is mostly launched from submarines.
Up to eight warheads can be deployed and aimed at separate targets from
a single missile.
- Reports suggest the Chinese plan to launch
their Dong Feng-31 missiles from trucks, a dramatic improvement in their
missile mobility made possible by the miniaturization of warheads.
- Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee
Richard Shelby blasted Attorney General Janet Reno Wednesday for turning
down an FBI request to search the home and computer of Wen Ho Lee, a suspected
- The Republican senator from Alabama only
smiled when asked if she should be fired. "The nation was not well-served,"
Shelby said. "It's indefensible on the part of the attorney general.
She's accountable for what happens."
- Reno responded to the assault by calling
the refusal of the Justice Department to allow the FBI search of Lee in
1997 a "close call." Reno said a lack of evidence justified the
- Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said Congress
should make it clear there are certain times when national security is
at issue that such a search of a government computer will not taint evidence.
- Meanwhile, Fox News reported that classified
intelligence data about a North Korean nuclear reactor may have been ignored
by the Clinton administration in 1998.
- According to sources familiar with the
situation, the administration pushed forward funding for a new, cleaner
reactor for North Korea, even though there was evidence that the North
Koreans were using the old reactor's plutonium fuel rods for weapons development
instead of sending the material to the new facility for energy development.
- Sources said there was a fierce debate
over withholding funds for the reactor project, but the White House insisted
on going ahead anyway, despite the evidence of North Korea's misuse of
the fuel rods.
- The ongoing claims of mismanagement are
beginning to take their toll on an administration with a penchant for scandals,
from Whitewater to Democratic fund raising the latest nuclear espionage
- A Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll taken
after the Wen Ho Lee scandal had erupted had 58 percent of Americans thinking
Clinton should be tougher in his dealings with China. The same poll had
39 percent of Americans calling China the biggest military threat to the
United States, double the number of people who thought Russia was our most
dangerous military adversary.
- Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., said he wasn't
sure if Reno goofed or whether she was a victim of a flawed process,
but he singled out her agency for failing to take nuclear spying seriously.
- "I'm still sort of surprised that
we may have been briefed on this prior the president's knowing about it,"
said Kerrey, noting that Congress has been more aggressive than the White
House in unearthing details of spying.
- Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska, called
the two-year delay in searching Lee's computer "a classic case of
bureaucratic bungling." Even if such a search jeopardized possible
prosecution, it should have been conducted to help prevent additional losses
of secrets, he said.
- The controversy centers on the ongoing
FBI investigation into Wen Ho Lee,
who was fired from Los Alamos National Laboratory more than a decade after
he first raised suspicions for chatting on the telephone with a suspected
spy. Energy Department Secretary Bill Richardson, whose agency supervises
and pays for the work at Los Alamos and America's two other nuclear labs,
recently conceded that classified computerized secrets were copied onto
- Richardson ordered structural changes
at the Energy Department to try and prevent a recurrence, but opposes legislation
to stop scientists from countries such as China from visiting U.S. labs
in the future.
- Lee denies wrongdoing. China also has
denied spying on the United States.