Thursday, August 31, 2006

Missiles From China to Hezbollah

Charles R. SmithMonday, Aug. 28, 2006

The Israeli war against Hezbollah (round one) brought with it the realization at the highest levels that dangerous weapons were floating around in dangerous hands. The successful attacks against a cargo vessel by Hezbollah, using Chinese-made C-802 cruise missiles, raised alarm bells all over the globe.
Immediately after the attack, the first alarm bell rang at CIA headquarters, where an intensified global intelligence operation to track weapons deliveries was started. The CIA began to track Iranian efforts to resupply Hezbollah with more Chinese-made C-802 missiles.
According to reports, the CIA discovered that an Iranian Il-76 cargo plane, loaded with another Chinese-made missile launcher and up to eight C-802 missiles, was being prepared to fly to Syria. The weapons on board were for Hezbollah. Officially, the Iranian cargo plane was carrying medical and other non-military aid to help innocent victims of war inside Lebanon.
A quick phone call to Baghdad convinced Iraqi officials to refuse overflight permission for the Iranian jet. Other nations were also warned about the Iranian ploy. Despite the refusal from Baghdad, the plane took off from Iran and sought overflight permission from Turkey. Turkey agreed, but only if the aircraft landed at a Turkish airbase where it and its cargo would be inspected.
Of course, the cargo jet returned to Iran and unloaded its deadly payload. The Iranian efforts did not go unnoticed, and the alert is out to keep a close watch on further flights and shipments to Lebanon.
Chinese Denials
The original source of the C-802 cruise missiles, China, has also come under fire. China has done little to inhibit Iran from supplying these deadly cruise missiles to Hezbollah.
Despite the confirmed attack using the C-802, a Chinese official stated that regulations made it "impossible" for a missile China sold to Iran to be passed on to Hezbollah.
"According to our regulations, it is impossible to have that kind of situation," stated Sun Bigan, China's special envoy to the Middle East. Yet, when asked if Beijing was investigating the allegation, Sun said, "As far as I know, no."
Israel, long known for its close military relationship with China, should not take the Chinese at their word. Israel has exported weaponry to China in the form of advanced air-to-air missiles, jet fighter technology, air-to-surface missiles and radars, and even wanted to provide an airborne radar control plane to the People's Liberation Army Air Force.
It was only after loud complaints from Washington, D.C., in particular from Virginia Republican Senator John Warner, that Israel decided to halt arms transfers to Beijing.
The C-802 has one damaged warship and one sunk Cambodian freighter to its credit. Clearly, advanced Chinese missile technology is aimed to kill. The additional proof that more missiles were on the way to Hezbollah should be more than enough evidence to make Tel Aviv pause before entering into any more advanced-weapons deals with Beijing.
U.S. Exports to China
The problem of advanced Chinese missiles in Hezbollah hands is also quietly changing the political-election tone here in the U.S. The feeling inside the U.S. government is that strict sanctions and export controls should be instituted to prevent U.S. military technology from falling into the hands of the Chinese.
The politics of missiles have a direct effect on the U.S. aerospace industry. Many of the leading aerospace execs feel that export regulations are already too strict and have cost them export sales of advanced U.S. technology.
For example, the Bush administration recently announced tough new regulations to improve the oversight of advanced-technology sales to China. In response, the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) stated that it opposed the new regulations. The National Foreign Trade Council includes major multinational corporations such as Boeing Co., Caterpillar Inc., Chevron Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp., Microsoft Corp., Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp. and DaimlerChrysler AG.
"We are writing to express our concern over the 'conventional arms catch-all' regulation for China that was proposed on July 6. As representatives of U.S. manufacturers, we support an effective export control system to protect U.S. national security. We also recognize the risks and opportunities that trade with China presents, but we believe this regulation is not clearly integrated into our China policy and will seriously hinder U.S. competitiveness," states a letter issued by the NFTC on Aug. 2, 2006.
"As we have seen with night vision equipment, a unilateral approach inevitably undermines both U.S. competitiveness and security, encouraging other countries to design U.S. technology out of their products," noted the letter.
Clinton Chinagate Scandal
It should come as no surprise that the NFTC is headed by Clinton-era former Under Secretary for Export Administration, William Reinsch. Reinsch claims, in his NFTC bio, that he "administered and enforced the export control policies and anti-boycott laws of the U.S. government and monitored the condition of the nation's defense industrial base."
Reinsch may claim to have "administered and enforced," but his record from the Clinton years shows that little of either was in place at his office. During his term at the Department of Commerce, Reinsch oversaw the greatest military technology transfer to the Chinese army in U.S. history.
The Chinese army managed to obtain, steal, or buy supercomputers for nuclear weapons research, missile warhead guidance systems, missile nose-cone software, radiation-hardened chip technology, encrypted satellite communications, and Synthetic Aperture Radar systems.
The list of advanced military technology that passed through Reinsch on its way to Beijing is too long for this article. It would not surprise me to find that Bill Reinsch has several awards waiting for him if he should ever visit PLA headquarters.
Suffice to say that the NFTC could not have selected a more qualified individual if it is their intent to transfer whatever technology – military or otherwise – to China for hard, cold cash.
I once confronted Reinsch after a congressional hearing on secure communications. During that meeting, he denied that he had anything to do with the export of advanced encryption satellite technology to the Chinese military. At that point, I presented him with copies of documents showing that he was not only a major player; he also authorized the sale of precisely that technology directly to Chinese military-owned companies.
Reinsch turned very pale and literally ran from the room. Since then he has refused to answer any of my questions and failed to return any calls.
Genocide Is Good for Business
The story does not end here. Today, Reinsch opposes a new law on the books in the state of Illinois. The law, which went into effect in January, bars state pension funds from investing in companies and financial institutions whose depositors, borrowers, or other business associates have any dealings in war-torn Sudan.
Responding to the obvious crisis in Sudan, where genocide with Chinese weaponry is a way of life, the NFTC filed a lawsuit in federal court to block Illinois from specifying where its money should go.
"NFTC supports the efforts of the Bush administration to bring peace to Sudan and to end the brutality that has been occurring in Darfur," stated Reinsch.
"However, state sanctions, like those enacted by the state of Illinois, work at cross purposes with federal policy," noted Reinsch.
It is ironic indeed that other states, including very liberal California, enacted similar laws to keep state pension funds from investing in apartheid South Africa. To my knowledge, Bill Reinsch and the NFTC did not oppose those laws. After all, racial genocide is a crime against humanity by any definition.
For some reason, I don't think the NFTC has thought this lawsuit through – just as hiring Bill Reinsch may have been a big mistake. It does not look good for the council to be linked with supporting racial genocide . . . but the money is certainly good.
The NFTC seems to like to be associated with someone who helped Chinese weapons engineers design, build, and field missiles that sometimes fall into the hands of folks like Hezbollah. Call me old-fashioned, but helping weapons designers in China and providing a free hand to murderous gangs in Sudan doesn't fall under the heading of good business sense.

No comments: