Important Note: This declassified report summarizes many important findings and judgments contained in the Select Committee╠s classified Report, issued January 3, 1999. U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies within the Clinton administration have determined that other significant findings and judgments contained in the Select Committee╠s classified Report cannot be publicly disclosed without affecting national security or ongoing criminal investigations.
1. The People's Republic of China (PRC) has stolen design information on the United States╠ most advanced thermonuclear weapons.
- The Select Committee judges that the PRC╠s next generation of thermonuclear weapons, currently under development, will exploit elements of stolen U.S. design information.
- PRC penetration of our national weapons laboratories spans at least the past several decades and almost certainly continues today.
A. The People's Republic of China (PRC) has stolen design information on the United States╠ most advanced thermonuclear weapons.
The People's Republic of China (PRC) has stolen classified design information on the United States╠ most advanced thermonuclear weapons. These thefts of nuclear secrets from our national weapons laboratories enabled the PRC to design, develop, and successfully test modern strategic nuclear weapons sooner than would otherwise have been possible. The stolen U.S. nuclear secrets give the PRC design information on thermonuclear weapons on a par with our own.
The PRC thefts from our National Laboratories began at least as early as the late 1970s, and significant secrets are known to have been stolen as recently as the mid-1990s. Such thefts almost certainly continue to the present.
The stolen information includes classified information on seven U.S. thermonuclear warheads, including every currently deployed thermonuclear warhead in the U.S. ballistic missile arsenal.
- The stolen information also includes classified design information for an enhanced radiation weapon (commonly known as the "neutron bomb"), which neither the United States, nor any other nation, has yet deployed.
- The PRC has obtained classified information on the following U.S. thermonuclear warheads, as well as a number of associated reentry vehicles (the hardened shell that protects the thermonuclear warhead during reentry).
U.S. Warhead U.S. Nuclear Missile Currently Deployed
W-88 Trident D-5 SLBM Yes
W-87 Peacekeeper ICBM Yes
W-78 Minuteman III (Mark 12A) ICBM Yes
W-76 Trident C-4 SLBM Yes
W-70 Lance SRBM No
W-62 Minuteman III ICBM Yes
W-56 Minuteman II ICBM No
In addition, in the mid-1990s the PRC stole, possibly from a U.S. national weapons laboratory, classified thermonuclear weapons information that cannot be identified in this unclassified Report. Because this recent espionage case is currently under investigation and involves sensitive intelligence sources and methods, the Clinton administration has determined that further information cannot be made public without affecting national security or ongoing criminal investigations.
The W-88, a miniaturized, tapered warhead, is the most sophisticated nuclear weapon the United States has ever built. In the U.S. arsenal, it is mated to the D-5 submarine-launched ballistic missile carried aboard the Trident nuclear submarine. The United States learned about the theft of the W-88 Trident D-5 warhead information, as well as about the theft of information regarding several other nuclear weapons, in 1995.
The PRC has stolen U.S. design information and other classified information for neutron bomb warheads. The PRC stole classified U.S. information about the neutron bomb from a U.S. national weapons laboratory. The U.S. learned of the theft of this classified information on the neutron bomb in 1996.
In the late 1970s, the PRC stole design information on the U.S. W-70 warhead from the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. The U.S. government first learned of this theft several months after it took place. The W-70 warhead contains elements that may be used either as a strategic thermonuclear weapon, or as an enhanced radiation weapon ("neutron bomb"). The PRC tested the neutron bomb in 1988.
The Select Committee is aware of other PRC thefts of U.S. thermonuclear weapons-related secrets. The Clinton administration has determined that further information about PRC thefts of U.S. thermonuclear weapons-related secrets cannot be publicly disclosed without affecting national security.
The PRC acquired this and other classified U.S. nuclear weapons information as the result of a 20-year intelligence collection program to develop modern thermonuclear weapons, continuing to this very day, that includes espionage, review of unclassified publications, and extensive interactions with scientists from the Department of Energy╠s national weapons laboratories.
The Select Committee has found that the primary focus of this long-term, ongoing PRC intelligence collection effort has been on the following national weapons laboratories:
- Los Alamos
- Lawrence Livermore
- Oak Ridge
The Select Committee judges that the PRC will exploit elements of the stolen design information on the PRC╠s next generation of thermonuclear weapons. The PRC plans to supplement its silo-based CSS-4 ICBMs targeted on U.S. cities with mobile ICBMs, which are more survivable because they are more difficult to find than silo-based missiles.
The PRC has three mobile ICBM programs currently underway █ two road-mobile and one submarine-launched program █ all of which will be able to strike the United States.
The first of these new People╠s Liberation Army (PLA) mobile ICBMs, the DF-31, may be tested in 1999, and could be deployed as soon as 2002. These mobile missiles require small warhead designs, of which the stolen U.S. design information is the most advanced in the world.
In addition, the PRC could choose to use elements of the stolen nuclear weapons design information █ including the neutron bomb █ on intermediate- and short-range ballistic missiles, such as its CSS-6 missiles.
The PRC has the infrastructure and technical ability to use elements of the stolen U.S. warhead design information in the PLA╠s next generation of thermonuclear weapons. The Select Committee concludes that the production tools and processes required by the PRC to produce small thermonuclear warheads based on the stolen U.S. design information, including the stolen W-88 information, would be similar to those developed or available in a modern aerospace or precision-guided munitions industry. The Select Committee judges that the PRC has such infrastructure and is capable of such production.
The Select Committee judges that the PRC is likely to continue its work on advanced thermonuclear weapons based on the stolen U.S. design information. The PRC could begin serial production of such weapons during the next decade in connection with the development of its next generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
A series of PRC nuclear weapons test explosions from 1992 to 1996 began a debate in the U.S. Government about whether the PRC╠s designs for its new generation of nuclear warheads were in fact based on stolen U.S. classified information. The apparent purpose of these PRC tests was to develop smaller, lighter thermonuclear warheads, with an increased yield-to-weight ratio.
The United States did not become fully aware of the magnitude of the counterintelligence problem at the Department of Energy national weapons laboratories until 1995. In 1995 the United States received a classified PRC document that demonstrated that the PRC had obtained U.S. design information on the W-88 warhead and technical information concerning approximately half a dozen other U.S. thermonuclear warheads and associated reentry vehicles.
The document was provided by a PRC national, unsolicited by the CIA █ a "walk in." This individual approached the CIA outside the PRC, and turned over a number of documents. Among these was an official PRC document classified "Secret" by the PRC.
This PRC document included, among other matters, stolen U.S. design information on the W-88 thermonuclear warhead used on the Trident D-5 missile, as well as U.S. technical information on several other strategic U.S. nuclear warheads. The document recognized that the U.S. weapons represented the state-of-the-art against which PRC nuclear weapons should be measured.
By mid-1996 the CIA had determined that the individual who provided the information was secretly under the direction of the PRC intelligence services. The CIA and other U.S. intelligence community analysts have nevertheless concluded that the classified PRC document contained U.S. thermonuclear warhead design information and other technical information on U.S. nuclear weapons.
The stolen U.S. nuclear secrets give the PRC design information on thermonuclear weapons on a par with our own. Currently deployed PRC ICBMs targeted on U.S. cities are based on 1950s-era nuclear weapons designs. With the stolen U.S. technology, the PRC has leaped, in a handful of years, from 1950s-era strategic nuclear capabilities to the more modern thermonuclear weapons designs. These modern thermonuclear weapons took the United States decades of effort, hundreds of millions of dollars, and numerous nuclear tests to achieve.
Such small, modern warheads are necessary for all of the elements of a modern intercontinental nuclear force, including:
- Road-mobile ICBMs
- Submarine-launched ICBMs
- ICBMs with multiple warheads (MRVs or MIRVs)
The PRC has an ongoing program to use these modern thermonuclear warheads on its next generation of ICBMs, currently in development. Without the nuclear secrets stolen from the United States, it would have been virtually impossible for the PRC to fabricate and test successfully small nuclear warheads prior to its 1996 pledge to adhere to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
B. The Select Committee judges that elements of the stolen information on U.S. thermonuclear warhead designs will assist the PRC in building its next generation of mobile ICBMs, which may be tested this year.
The stolen U.S. design information will assist the PRC in building smaller nuclear warheads █ vital to the success of the PRC╠s ongoing efforts to develop survivable, mobile missiles. Current PRC ICBMs, which are silo-based, are more vulnerable to attack than mobile missiles.
The PRC has currently underway three intercontinental mobile missile programs █ two road-mobile, and one submarine-launched. All of these missiles are capable of targeting the United States.
The first of these, the road-mobile solid-propellant DF-31, may be tested in 1999. Given a successful flight-test program, the DF-31 could be ready for deployment in 2002.
The Select Committee judges that the PRC will in fact use a small nuclear warhead on its new generation ICBMs. The small, mobile missiles that the PRC is developing require smaller warheads than the large, heavy, 1950s-era warheads developed for the PRC╠s silo-based missiles. The main purpose of a series of nuclear tests conducted by the PRC between 1992 and 1996 was evidently to develop new smaller, lighter warheads with an increased yield-to-weight ratio for use with the PRC╠s new, mobile nuclear forces.
The Select Committee judges that the PRC will exploit elements of the stolen U.S. thermonuclear weapons design information on its new ICBMs currently under development. The advanced U.S. thermonuclear warheads for which the PRC has stolen U.S. design information are significantly smaller than those for which the PRC╠s silo-based missiles were designed. The U.S. designs, unlike those in the PRC╠s currently-deployed arsenal, can be used on smaller mobile missiles.
The Select Committee judges that:
- The PRC is likely to continue to work on small thermonuclear warheads based on stolen U.S. design information
- The PRC has the infrastructure and ability to produce such warheads, including warheads based on elements of the stolen U.S. W-88 Trident D5 design information
- The PRC could begin serial production of small thermonuclear warheads during the next decade in conjunction with its new generation of road-mobile missiles
- The introduction of small warheads into PLA service could coincide with the initial operational capability of the DF-31, which could be ready for deployment in 2002
These small warhead designs will make it possible for the PRC to develop and deploy missiles with multiple reentry vehicles (MRVs or independently targetable MIRVs).
Multiple reentry vehicles increase the effectiveness of a ballistic missile force by multiplying the number of warheads a single missile can carry as many as ten-fold.
Multiple reentry vehicles also can help to counter missile defenses. For example, multiple reentry vehicles make it easier for the PRC to deploy penetration aids with its ICBM warheads in order to defeat anti-missile defenses.
The Select Committee is aware of reports that the PRC has in the past undertaken efforts related to technology with MIRV applications. Experts agree that the PRC now has the capability to develop and deploy silo-based intercontinental ballistic missiles with multiple reentry vehicles (MIRVs or MRVs).
Experts also agree that the PRC could have this capability for its new mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles within a reasonable period of years that is consistent with its plans to deploy these new mobile missiles. The PRC could pursue one or more penetration aids in connection with its new nuclear missiles.
If the PRC violates the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty by testing surreptitiously, it could further accelerate its nuclear development.
The Select Committee judges that, if the PRC were successful in stealing nuclear test codes, computer models, and data from the United States, it could further accelerate its nuclear development. By using such stolen codes and data in conjunction with High Performance Computers (HPCs) already acquired by the PRC, the PRC could diminish its need for further nuclear testing to evaluate weapons and proposed design changes.
The possession of the stolen U.S. test data could greatly reduce the level of HPC performance required for such tasks. For these reasons, the Select Committee judges that the PRC has and will continue to aggressively target for theft our nuclear test codes, computer models, and data.
Although the United States has been the victim of systematic espionage successfully targeted against our most advanced nuclear weapons designs █ and although the Select Committee judges that the PRC will exploit elements of those designs for its new generation of ICBMs █ the United States retains an overwhelming qualitative and quantitative advantage in deployed strategic nuclear forces. Nonetheless, in a crisis in which the United States confronts the PRC╠s conventional and nuclear forces at the regional level, a modernized PRC strategic nuclear ballistic missile force would pose a credible direct threat against the United States.
Neither the United States nor the PRC has a national ballistic missile defense system.
In the near term, a PRC deployment of mobile thermonuclear weapons, or neutron bombs, based on stolen U.S. design information, could have a significant effect on the regional balance of power, particularly with respect to Taiwan. PRC deployments of advanced nuclear weapons based on stolen U.S. design information would pose greater risks to U.S. troops and interests in Asia and the Pacific.
In addition, the PRC╠s theft of information on our most modern nuclear weapons designs enables the PRC to deploy modern forces much sooner than would otherwise be possible.
At the beginning of the l990s, the PRC had only one or two silo-based ICBMs capable of attacking the United States. Since then, the PRC has deployed up to two dozen additional silo-based ICBMs capable of attacking the United States; has upgraded its silo-based missiles; and has continued development of three mobile ICBM systems and associated modern thermonuclear warheads.
If the PRC is successful in developing modern nuclear forces, as seems likely, and chooses to deploy them in sufficient numbers, then the long-term balance of nuclear forces with the United States could be adversely affected.