UNITED STATES-CHINA NUCLEAR COOPERATION (Senate - October 21, 1997)

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Mr. ASHCROFT. Mr. President, I rise today to address the disturbing prospect that President Clinton will make the necessary certification to Congress that would permit so-called nuclear cooperation between the United States and China. I really believe we should be honest with each other. This is a political decision, driven by the United States-China October summit rather than the facts of China's weapons proliferation record.

The prospect of nuclear cooperation with China is perhaps the clearest illustration yet of the trust but don't verify approach behind the administration's China policy. The administration does not want Chinese President Jiang Zemin to return to Beijing emptyhanded. But I question the need to make concessions to China in the first place.

China has a weapons proliferation record that is unrivaled in the world. Chinese trade barriers continue to block U.S. goods and companies. In the last several years, Beijing has had a human rights record that has resulted in the most intense religious persecution in several decades, and of course it has also resulted in the silencing of all political dissidents in China, according to our State Department reports.

In spite of such behavior, nuclear cooperation with China could become a reality. Beijing has made a host of nonproliferation promises to acquire United States nuclear technology, and the administration is applauding China's efforts. Sadly, China's promises of all new export controls and assurance that no nuclear technology will be sent to unsafeguarded nuclear facilities will do little to stem China's proliferation activity.

China has made and broken nuclear nonproliferation commitments for over a decade, and they have broken them with great regularity. Little confidence can be placed in China's new nonproliferation promises until Beijing backs up such commitments with action. Disregarding the issue of whether or not China can be trusted, each of China's nonproliferation commitments is deficient in important areas.

China's new export controls are untested, and will be administered by agencies with close ties to the China National Nuclear Corporation--that is the organization which has helped Iran prospect for uranium and that is the organization which transferred ring magnets used for uranium enrichment to an unsafeguarded nuclear facility in Pakistan. So we are alleging that we are going to have nonproliferation. Then we are going to put it in the hands of the organization which has been a massive proliferator of nuclear weapons technology and capacity.

The ring magnet transfer was in apparent violation of United States law, although the Clinton administration did not impose sanctions as a violation of China's commitments--so we had a violation of our law--it was a violation of China's commitments under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and our administration refused to impose sanctions. I just don't think we can continue to turn our head away from the violations and then turn our head toward this country and say, well, in spite of all that we'll wink and establish a new level of cooperation.

With regard to China, China has had great cooperation with Iran on nuclear issues. The administration is allowing China to use nuclear blackmail to obtain United States nuclear technology as it relates to Iran. China will consider forswearing new nuclear cooperation, it says, with Iran, such as the sale of a nuclear reactor and a plant for uranium conversion, if the administration will allow United States-China nuclear cooperation to proceed. They are threatening to proliferate more nuclear weapons and proliferate more nuclear technology if we don't give them additional nuclear information and additional nuclear technology with which they could violate agreements like they have regularly. China's pledge to join the Zangger committee says more about what China is unwilling to do rather than signaling a new commitment to nonproliferation. China has joined the Zangger committee and not the Nuclear Suppliers Group because Zangger members can continue to export nuclear technology to countries which keep some nuclear facilities from international inspection. If they were to pledge to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group that would be a different thing. But the Zangger committee has the loophole necessary to proliferate nuclear technology with the potential of nuclear weaponry to places that don't have international inspection. China is the only nuclear weapons power in the world that has not joined the Nuclear Suppliers Group and they remain unwilling to do so.

The national security arguments for United States-China nuclear cooperation are far from compelling, and the economic rationale is exaggerated. As the Washington Post notes this morning, United States big business is lobbying hard for nuclear cooperation with China in hopes that this market will boost exports.

I want United States businesses to benefit from possible export markets, but China is seeking nuclear cooperation with the United States to increase the number of bidders for and to lower the price of Chinese power projects. Once China obtains nuclear technology, they will reverse engineer our products and they will start building those products themselves and be our competitors in other export markets.

As Dan Horner of the Nuclear Control Institute notes in the Post article this morning, China is only seeking enough technology to develop a domestic production capability.

The United States should not enter into nuclear cooperation with China until real and observable progress is made in China's nonproliferation record. Before we send our nuclear technology to China, Beijing should cut off all nuclear cooperation with terrorist states, such as Iran. Before we send our nuclear technology to China, Beijing should maintain at least for 1 year an exemplary nonproliferation record for all weapons-of-mass-destruction technology, including technologies other than nuclear--chemical technologies and biological technologies.

The threat of weapons of mass destruction has become a broader issue than that of nuclear-proliferation technology alone. Chemical weapons, biological weapons and the missile systems to deliver those weapons are all part of the weapons-of-mass-destruction threat. China's improvements in nuclear nonproliferation are questionable at best, but even the administration can't defend China's broader weapons-of-mass-destruction nonproliferation record.

Even though the administration argues that China has honored its May 1996 pledge not to transfer nuclear material to unsafeguarded nuclear facilities, doubts persist about China's recent nuclear-proliferation activity. A June 1997 CIA report released this year states that:

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During the last half of 1996--

After its assurances of May 1996--

During the last half of 1996, China was the most significant supplier of [weapons of mass-destruction]-related goods and technology to foreign countries. The Chinese provided a tremendous variety of assistance to both Iran's and Pakistan's ballistic-missile programs. China was also the primary source of nuclear-related equipment and technology to Pakistan, and a key supplier to Iran during this reporting period.

Clearly, the Chinese record does not develop a sense of confidence in those who observe her objectively, and it certainly does not justify a bill of good health that nuclear cooperation would signify.

Therefore, I hope the President does not accord to China a standing it does not deserve in a way that would jeopardize our capacity to restrain the proliferation of nuclear technology.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

Mr. BOND addressed the Chair.

The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Missouri.

END