The China Nonproliferation Act
The world is a more dangerous place today because countries like the People's Republic of China (PRC) continue to proliferate weapons of mass destruction to rogue states like North Korea, Iran, and Libya. These rogue states are using many of these technologies to develop weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them, and Senator Thompson has repeatedly called for the immediate deployment of a multi-tiered national missile defense system to protect the United States.
In July 1999, shortly after North Korea surprised intelligence agencies by successfully launching a three-stage rocket over Japan and demonstrated the technological know-how to hit the United States with a small warhead, the bipartisan Deutch Commission concluded that the federal government is not ready to combat proliferation. And two unclassified CIA reports to Congress in 2000 confirmed that Chinese businesses provided missile-related items, raw materials, and/or assistance to rogue nations, including Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan. It also outlined Chinese support of Pakistan's nuclear and missile programs and explained how North Korea obtained materials for its ballistic missile programs from firms in China.
Many of these rogue states are also working to acquire "dual use" items from the West. Russian entities have provided Iran's missile programs with specialty steels and alloys, tungsten coated graphite, guidance technology, rocket engine and fuel technology, and laser equipment. And North Korea has provided missile technology and assistance to Iran and Libya and is reportedly building a missile factory in Sudan for Iraq.
Dangers to the United States clearly exist and are increasing. The unfettered sale of "dual use" and military-related technology aid those threats, and this problem is fueled by a few "key suppliers" like China. The U.S. walks a delicate tightrope as it balances national security and trade with China. Free trade and open markets are essential, but the federal government's first responsibility is our national security.
Senator Thompson introduced the China Nonproliferation Act, which requires an annual review of proliferation, establishes clear standards, reasonable penalties, adequate presidential waivers, congressional oversight, and much-needed transparency. The goal of Senator Thompson's legislation is to address the proliferation of key suppliers like China, Russia, and North Korea while minimizing any negative impact on U.S. businesses or workers.
Recently, on the eve of the Senate's consideration of Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) for China, it was revealed that China was assisting Libyan experts with that country's missile program, illegally diverting U.S. supercomputers for use in the PRC's nuclear weapons program, and helping build a second M-11 missile plant in Pakistan. And Iran successfully test-fired its Shahab-3 missile, which is capable of striking Israel, American troops in Saudi Arabia, or American bases located within the borders of our NATO ally, Turkey. The missile was developed and built with significant assistance from China.
Clearly, diplomacy alone will not resolve this serious threat to our national security. In a three week period in late June and July, no less than three senior U.S. delegations traveled to Beijing to discuss these issues. Each was sent back to Washington empty-handed, under the explicit threat that if the U.S. continues to assist Taiwan with its defensive needs, or proceed with our own National Missile Defense, the PRC will continue to proliferate offensive weapons and technology to whomever it pleases.
At a time of monumental change in the U.S. relationship with Beijing, Senator Thompson believes that it is not too much to ask that China obey international rules and norms with regard to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. His bill is a bipartisan approach that addresses the threat in a firm, responsible, and balanced manner. The China Nonproliferation Act will send the right message abroad by allowing for engaging and trading while establishing a framework for appropriate response to actions that threaten the United States.
Despite the fact that the China Nonproliferation Act was not adopted as an amendment to the legislation granting China permanent normal trade relations, Senator Thompson intends to continue to pursue the issue of nonproliferation, hold hearings, and introduce legislation that will ensure that the American people and United States interests are protected.
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