Israeli defense officials have quietly confirmed that China has exported to Syria M-9 (“Dong Feng” DF-15) ballistic missiles reported to have a range of over 370 miles and capable of carrying a 1,100-pound payload, including a tactical nuclear warhead of about 10 kilotons in yield.
The M-9 missile transfer is a violation of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and should require the Clinton administration automatically invoke U.S. economic sanctions against China. The administration has taken no such action.
The Clinton administration knew of the Chinese M-11 ballistic missile sales to the Middle East while publicly denying the transfers to avoid imposing sanctions. In 1991 and 1993 Great Wall Industries was sanctioned twice by the U.S. government for selling M-11 missiles to Pakistan. Pakistan is expected to place its newly tested nuclear bombs on the M-11 or a copy of the M-11 produced inside Pakistan. The penalties were imposed under U.S.
law requiring the imposition of sanctions for violations of the 29-nation arms control agreement, which restricts sales of missiles with ranges greater than 186 miles and warheads heavier than 1,100 pounds.
Documentation obtained from the U.S. Commerce Department, using the Freedom of Information Act, reveals that Loral Chief Executive Officer Bernard Schwartz was informed by President Clinton of the Chinese M-11 missile transfers to Pakistan in August 1994. Schwartz was given briefing materials by Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, detailing the Chinese missile sales and how to avoid U.S. sanctions by applying for satellite exports through the Commerce Department.
The document is a pre-China briefing report and is titled “Background Information”:
- EXPORT CONTROLS. Last August (1993), the U.S. imposed sanctions on China for an M-11 missile-related transfer to Pakistan. On January 7, 1994, it was decided that although communications satellites licensed by the State Department are covered by the sanctions law, export licenses for communications satellites licensed by the Department of Commerce may be approved. Two such export licenses for communications satellites were recently approved by the Department of Commerce.
“Confirmed transfers include only the M-7 to Iran and an unspecified SRBM to Pakistan, which has been acknowledged by both sides,” said Eric Arnett, director of the Project on Military Technology at the Stockholm International Peace Institute. “Three SRBMs — the M-7, M-9 and M-11 — are thought to have been developed privately for export and may have been sold, complete or in component form, to Iran, Pakistan and Syria.”
According to Israeli Defense Force officials, Syria now has the largest force of mobile tactical ballistic weapons in the Middle East, including an unspecified number of M-9 missiles purchased from China. Syria currently fields 460 missiles — mostly older Soviet designed SCUD-C and SCUD-B liquid-fueled tactical missiles — plus a few Syrian-built copies of the SCUD.
The addition of quick-firing, solid-fueled, Chinese M-9 missiles gives Syria first-strike capability against Israel with little or no warning. Unlike the SCUD — the M-9 warhead separates after main engine burnout and uses onboard thrusters to correct its course to target.
DF-15 (M-9) warheads shot at Taiwan during the February 1996 PLA exercises displayed MARV or Maneuverable Re-entry Vehicle tactics, changing course and speed in an effort to avoid defensive missiles. MARV warheads on the M-9 pose a significant threat to Israel since they will be able to avoid interception by the Arrow anti-missile currently under joint development with the U.S. Arrow is expected to cost about $1.7 billion and 40 percent of Arrow funding is supplied by the U.S.
In addition, IDF officials stressed that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has already made the necessary financial arrangement to purchase NO DONG missile technology from North Korea, once U.N.-sponsored weapons inspections cease. Israeli officials noted they have evidence that SCUD parts are currently being smuggled into Iraq via Jordan. Iraq was required to destroy all SCUD missiles after the Gulf War and is not allowed by U.N. mandate to purchase any more such missiles. However, IDF officials
estimate that Iraq can still field a force of nearly 350 SCUDs or SCUD copies.
The Clinton administration has been under fire from some in Congress for using the Commerce Department to subvert restrictions against the transfer of sensitive technology that could threaten national security.
On Saturday, Clinton said he opposed a proposed shift of jurisdiction over satellite exports contained in the 1999 federal budget bill.
“I am strongly opposed to a provision that, effective March 1999, will
transfer the jurisdiction over satellite exports from the Department of Commerce to the Department of State,” Clinton said in a written statement.
“This change is not necessary to ensure effective control of U.S. exports of satellites and could hamper the U.S. satellite industry,” he said.
Congress is expected to approve the bill tomorrow.
Clinton called on Congress to remove the satellite export jurisdiction switch supported by lawmakers who regard the Commerce Department to be too subservient to aerospace firms and too willing to make any deal with China and other potential military adversaries.
Last July, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, a Republican, accused the
Clinton administration of allowing China to profit militarily by granting
U.S. firms permission to transfer sensitive satellite technology to Beijing. Clinton’s decision to allow Loral to proceed with a satellite deal with China was opposed by his own Justice Department, Defense Department and State Department. Lott said an ongoing congressional investigation would show there are insufficient export controls on satellites and related, sensitive
Some in Congress, including Lott, have accused the administration of trying to protect American industry and the Chinese by violating congressional sanctions.
Two American firms, Loral Space and Communications and Hughes Electronics, have helped the Chinese improve the performance of their rockets since a February 1996 launch in which an American satellite was lost. Now that technology is proliferating to rogue nations in the volatile Middle East.
Clinton said that he was aware of concerns about national security and would direct governmental departments to ensure it was protected.
“I will direct the appropriate agencies to implement (the export control
requirements) in a manner that supports legitimate commercial communications satellite exports while ensuring that the extensive safegards needed to protect our national security remain in effect,” he said.
But he added that he did not want to see any type of legislation that could
become a “prohibition of export of U.S. satellites to be launched by China.”
SOURCE DOCUMENT INDEX:
Data on the DF-15 (M-9) missile & LORAL Schwartz documents