Clearly, 2006 will be known as the "summer of missiles." China recently joined North Korea and Hezbollah in the parade of ballistic bombers by shooting off a newly developed Dong Feng 31 (DF-31).
According to the Russian news agency Itar-Tass, China carried out a test launch of a Dong Feng-31 intercontinental ballistic missile. "The Chinese side had notified the Russian Defence Ministry in advance about the upcoming launching of the intercontinental missile," noted Russian military sources cited by Itar-Tass.
"The Dong Feng-31 missile was fired from the Wuzhai launch site towards the Taklimakan desert at about midnight on Monday," stated a Russian ministry official.
According to Russian sources, the test warhead flew approximately 1,500 miles to a predetermined target site in China. The Russian space control facilities reportedly tracked the missile launch and full flight path to impact.
The test firing confirmed the capability of the DF-31 for the Chinese Second Artillery, the People's Liberation Army unit that operates all long-range missile forces. The new Chinese nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile is now considered to be in service.
The DF-31 is capable of reaching the U.S., delivering either a single three-megaton H-bomb or three 90-kiloton nuclear warheads with precision accuracy on U.S. targets. The primary targets in America are the West Coast cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.
Russian and Western sources expect an improved longer-range DF-31A missile to be fielded in 2007. Both missiles are road-mobile systems and are moved on large multi-wheeled vehicles to prepared firing points.
In addition to the new DF-31, China shot its latest communications satellite into orbit, demonstrating that a robust and well-coordinated space program is under way. However, the Chinese space program is not peaceful.
The Zhongxing-22A – ChinaSat 22A – satellite was sent into space aboard a Long March 3A rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in northwest China. The communications satellite successfully entered orbit 25 minutes after the launch.
Western mainstream media covered the launch of ChinaSat 22A as if it were some commercial operation. The news media reports echoed the official Chinese communist outlet Xinhua, stating that the satellite was designed by the Chinese Academy of Space Technology and owned by a company under the state-owned China Telecommunications Satellite Group Company (ChinaSat).
Yet ChinaSat 22A is not a commercial satellite. Although the reports claim that the satellite belongs to ChinaSat, the satellite is in fact controlled by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and will be used exclusively for military communications.
The military designation of ChinaSat 22A is FengHuo-1A or Beacon Fire, a method used by the Great Wall of China in ancient times to communicate.
The FH-1A was sent into orbit to replace the FH-1, China's first dedicated military communications satellite, which was launched in 2000. The FH-1A is designed to support the PLA's command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I) system. The FH-1A satellite is a pure military communication spacecraft designed to improve the PLA's tactical-level control of aircraft, missiles and warships.
ChinaSat has a long history of acquiring U.S. space technology. ChinaSat purchased two satellites from Hughes during the 1990s, one of which crashed upon liftoff from a Chinese army rocket base.
ChinaSat and Clinton
ChinaSat also contributed to the Chinagate scandal involving the Clinton White House and PLA money being siphoned into Democrat campaign donations. In February 1998, Clinton provided a "national interest" waiver allowing the launch of a U.S.-manufactured commercial communications satellite on a PRC (People's Republic of China, communist China) rocket. This waiver applied to the ChinaSat 8 satellite manufactured by Space Systems/Loral (Loral).
The ChinaSat 8 satellite waiver became a political hot potato after the New York Times reported that President Clinton had approved the "national interest" determination, or waiver, despite an ongoing Department of Justice criminal investigation into Loral's alleged earlier unauthorized transfer of missile guidance technology to the PRC.
The fact that the chairman of Loral Space & Communications Ltd., Bernard L. Schwartz, was the largest individual donor to the Democratic Party in 1997 also did not help.
Despite long legal battles and lots of name calling, the State Department eventually overrode Clinton's waiver and denied the export of ChinaSat 8.
Loral also later pleaded no contest to a long list of U.S. national security violations, including the unauthorized transfer of missile guidance technology to the Chinese army.
A January 1998 draft of a National Security Council memorandum for President Clinton warned that signing the waiver for ChinaSat might not be in the U.S. national interest. The memo included a reference to an ongoing review of the Chinese transfers to Iran of C-802 anti-ship cruise missiles. Despite the warnings, Clinton elected to ignore the C-802 transfers to Iran and he approved the waiver for Loral.
The world has come full circle since Clinton's waiver. The Chinese C-802 missiles sold to Iran were passed on to Hezbollah. Hezbollah, in turn, used its Chinese C-802 missiles to sink a Cambodian freighter and damage an Israeli warship off the Lebanese coast.
Loral CEO Bernard Schwartz is still donating gobs of money to the DNC and related liberal 527 organizations. Despite leading Loral into and out of bankruptcy, Schwartz has managed to donate over a half-million dollars during this election cycle.
The advanced satellite technology passed by Clinton's waivers from Loral and Hughes now orbits the Earth in the form of the FH-1A, a Chinese military communications satellite.
The missile technology passed by Loral and Hughes to the Chinese army has matured into a nuclear-tipped monster called the DF-31, which can waste whole American cities in a blinding flash of nuclear hell.
The summer of missiles is almost over, but the results of years of abuse during the 1990s remain with us well into the 21st century.