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The assessment consisted of a thorough analysis of China's nuclear weapons program to identify where and how US information played a role. Mr. Walpole told members of the damage assessment team to view their efforts through the lens of what we know, what we don't know, what we can't know, what we judge based on evidence, and what we speculate based on experience.
The Administration, in its response to the Cox Committee recommendation for the damage assessment, determined that the findings of the assessment should be reviewed by an independent panel of nuclear experts. In March, I asked Admiral David Jeremiah to lead a panel of weapons and national security experts to include General Brent Scowcroft, Dr. John Foster, Mr. Richard Kerr, Dr. Roland Herbst, and Mr. Howard Schue. They reviewed the assessment and its findings, met with the Community team, and concluded that they concurred with the assessment.
The damage assessment contains the most sensitive intelligence, nuclear weapons, and law enforcement information. We have not held back anything in its preparation, and the full report has been shared with the Administration and the appropriate congressional committees. Despite the extraordinary sensitivity of the information in the assessment, the independent panel has worked with the damage assessment team to produce a set of unclassified key findings. These findings are completely consistent with the classified key findings in the assessment. They are attached.
I wish to thank the damage assessment team for the thorough, extremely professional way they approached and carried out their responsibilities. I also wish to thank Admiral Jeremiah's panel for their very important contribution. I have taken on board the observations they have made.
Safeguarding our nuclear secrets and other weapons-related secrets is a matter of utmost seriousness-- an issue of critical importance to our national security. My colleagues at the Department of Energy and in law enforcement have taken a number of aggressive steps to protect sensitive information, tighten security, and prevent future breaches. These matters will require continued vigilance in the years ahead.
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China obtained by espionage classified US nuclear weapons information that probably accelerated its program to develop future nuclear weapons. This collection program allowed China to focus successfully down critical paths and avoid less promising approaches to nuclear weapon designs.
China's technical advances have been made on the basis of classified and unclassified information derived from espionage, contact with US and other countries' scientists, conferences and publications, unauthorized media disclosures, declassified US weapons information, and Chinese indigenous development. The relative contribution of each cannot be determined.
Regardless of the source of the weapons information, it has made an important contribution to the Chinese objective to maintain a second strike capability and provided useful information for future designs.
Significant deficiencies remain in the Chinese weapons program. The Chinese almost certainly are using aggressive collection efforts to address deficiencies as well as to obtain manufacturing and production capabilities from both nuclear and nonnuclear sources.
To date, the aggressive Chinese collection effort has not resulted in any apparent modernization of their deployed strategic force or any new nuclear weapons deployment.
China has had the technical capability to develop a multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) system for its large, currently deployed ICBM for many years. but has not done so. US information acquired by the Chinese could help them develop a MIRV for a future mobile missile.
We do not know if US classified nuclear information acquired by the Chinese has been passed to other countries. Having obtained more modern US nuclear technology, the Chinese might be less concerned about sharing their older technology. #
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The panel would add the following observations:
Admiral Jeremiah is the former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and currently Partner and President of Technology Strategies & Alliances Corporation.
Admiral Jeremiah wil1 be joined by several other prominent outside experts who will be named shortly.
The Jeremiah group will provide an outside review of the damage assessment which is now being conducted. That damage assessment is being led by Robert Walpole, National Intelligence Officer for Strategic and Nuclear Programs for the National Intelligence Council. Walpole's team is made up of intelligence analysts and weapons experts drawn from across the Intelligence Community and from the National Labs . The team is scheduled to complete their work by the end of March. Admiral Jeremiah's group will then review the damage assessment and provide their independent assessment.
In making the appointment of Admiral jeremiah, Director Tenet said: "I am grateful to Admiral Jeremiah, for sharing his expertise once again with the nation to ensure that we have made a rigorous review of all available facts and have come to the appropriate conclusions. Admiral Jeremiah is the perfect person to lead such a review. His credentials are impeccable and his credibility is unquestioned. We are fortunate to have him chair this outside panel of experts."
When Admiral Jeremiah's panel completes their work, the results will be shared with the White House and appropriate Congressional oversight committees.