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The government of Taiwan secretly asked the Clinton administration last
month to sell it High-speed Anti-Radiation Missiles, or HARMs, as part of
its annual request for defensive arms, we are told. Disclosure of the
request for the air-launched missiles, which home in on radar beacons used
to track aircraft, comes amid disclosure in The Washington
Times
on Wednesday that China is building a new
air-defense missile site near Taiwan.

A fight is under way inside the administration over the request for
HARMs, which have been star weapons used in the Balkans and Iraq in recent
months to knock out anti-aircraft batteries.

Pro-Beijing officials at the State Department are opposing U.S. sales of
HARMs, arguing the missiles could be used to knock out the surface-to-air
missile sites like the one being built at Zhangzhou on China’s coast, thus
would be considered offensive weapons because the site is on the mainland.

Pentagon officials in favor of the sale deem them necessary to maintain a
balance of forces. They point out that the HARMs are defensive missiles
allowed under the Taiwan Relations Act governing U.S. arms sales to the
island. Officials told us the HARMs would be very effective against China’s
two new Sovremenny-class guided-missile destroyers, which come equipped with
ample radar for HARMs to attack — and are not on the mainland.

Russia will turn over the first new destroyer to China tomorrow in St.
Petersburg. The ship is the first of two equipped with supersonic SS-N-22
cruise missiles to be based in Shanghai, conveniently close to Taiwan.

China rebuttal

Some members of the special Cox committee on Chinese spying are irate at
the bashing they took in a report by a Stanford University think tank.

The report, which received prominent play in liberal news outlets who
take a benign view of Chinese global aims, castigated the bipartisan Cox
team for purportedly jumping to wild conclusions. The Cox panel, named after
Rep. Christopher Cox, the chairman and California Republican, concluded that
Chinese spies stole design information for the most advanced thermonuclear
weapons in the U.S. arsenal. The report was based on the most secret
information in the U.S. intelligence community.

Now, an ally of Mr. Cox’s has drafted a rebuttal to the Stanford critics.
We obtained a copy of “50 Factual Errors in the Four (Stanford) Essays.”
The counterattack was authored by Nicholas Rostow, staff director for the
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence who worked for the Cox panel.

Pulling no punches, Mr. Rostow begins: “The publisher of the essays,
Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, is the direct
successor of the Center for International Security and Arms Control, an
organization whose conclusions on Soviet intentions and compliance with
arms-control treaties were notoriously wrong.”

Mr. Rostow then proceeds to uncover what he termed 50 “factual errors
disclosed in a cursory review of the four essays.”

Some examples:

  • “According to (one Stanford essay), the committee report `maintains that
    PRC penetration of U.S. labs commenced in the late 1970s.’ No such statement
    is made in the report.”

  • “(One essay) refers to the W-88 thermonuclear warhead as `old’
    technology. It is, in fact, the most modern nuclear weapon in the U.S.
    arsenal, and until it was compromised, no other nation in the world
    possessed such a weapon. … Since the W-88 is America’s most modern nuclear
    weapon, (the essay’s) description of it as `old’ trivializes a very
    important national security
    loss.”

  • One essay “states that `no evidence is given in any of the reports that
    the design of the (new, smaller PRC nuclear warhead) was derived from U.S.
    information.’ That the specific evidence is not given merely reflects the
    fact that it is classified. The conclusion has been stated, not only in the
    committee report, but also in the public versions of the two intelligence
    community reports on this subject to Congress during 1999.”

Keep watching the sky

The North American Aerospace Defense Command, known as NORAD, will use
its
formidable satellite and ground radar tracking systems for the 44th year in
a row to monitor the transit of a sleigh and nine — not eight — tiny
reindeer from the North Pole today.

Santa Claus’ journey will be picked up first by Defense Support
Satellites — those that would spot a Chinese or Russian intercontinental
ballistic missile launch, says a smiling NORAD spokesman, Master Sgt. Larry
Lincoln.

“We can pick up the heat from Rudolph’s nose,” Lincoln said of the
ninth reindeer pulling Santa’s present-filled sleigh. The monitoring is
intended to “keep the magic alive for children around the world,” he said.

About 100 Air Force and other volunteers will staff phone lines inside
NORAD’s Cheyenne Mountain complex in Colorado Springs for children to call
in their Christmas wishes or get an update on Santa’s travel. A World
Wide Web site will provide animation showing Santa’s annual Christmas Eve
journey.
Last year 80 million people visited
the website and about 20,000 people called to find out the latest Santa
update.

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