News

28 October 1997

TEXT: 10/27 HELMS/SHELBY LETTER ON U.S.-CHINA NUCLEAR AGREEMENT

(Implementation of 1985 agreement 'would be premature')  (990)



Washington -- The immediate implementation of an agreement to grant
China access to U.S. nuclear technology would be inadvisable given
China's "long record of proliferation," according to the chairmen of
the Senate Committees on Intelligence and Foreign Relations.


"We believe that implementation of this Agreement (the 1985 U.S.-China
Nuclear Agreement), now or in the immediate future, would be premature
at a time when China continues its destabilizing transfers of nuclear,
missile, chemical and biological weapons technology, and advanced
conventional weapons," Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman
Jesse Helms (Republican of North Carolina) and Senate Intelligence
Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (Republican of Alabama) said in a
letter to President Clinton October 27.


Following is the text of the letter:



(begin text)



October 27, 1997



The President

The White House

Washington, D.C. 20500



Dear Mr. President:



As Chairmen of the U.S. Senate Committees on Intelligence and Foreign
Relations, we are disturbed by reports that the Administration intends
to announce the implementation of the 1985 U.S.-China Nuclear
Agreement during the visit of President Jiang Zemin.


We believe that implementation of this Agreement, now or in the
immediate future, would be premature at a time when China continues
its destabilizing transfers of nuclear, missile, chemical and
biological weapons technology, and advanced conventional weapons.


We are aware that China reportedly has agreed to end "significant"
nuclear cooperation with Iran, and has offered assurances on other
activities of proliferation concern. Such commitments -- if complete,
unambiguous, in writing, and clearly applicable to all activities in
question, to include activities under previous contracts, agreements,
or other arrangements -- could, if compiled with, justify
certification under the legislative requirements governing the 1985
Agreement. We further understand that the Administration maintains
that China has complied with its May 1996 commitment not to provide
nuclear assistance to unsafeguarded nuclear facilities. Lastly, we are
aware that China has reportedly promulgated regulations controlling
nuclear exports, and joined the Zangger Committee.


Nevertheless, given China's long record of proliferation of the most
dangerous weapons technologies -- frequently in violation of earlier
commitments and international legal norms and obligations -- combined
with a history of denial, deception, evasion and lying about these
activities, we believe that it is too soon to conclude that China has
changed its policies sufficiently to merit access to U.S. nuclear
technology. Despite China's apparent last minute conversion, we simply
have no track record on which to judge the sincerity of Chinese
intentions.


On the contrary, as recently as June of this year, the CIA's Non-
Proliferation Center reported that China was "the most significant
supplier of (weapons of mass destruction)-related goods and technology
to foreign countries.... China also was the primary source of
nuclear-related equipment and technology to Pakistan, and a key
supplier to Iran during this reporting period."


Further, we cannot understand why the administration would wish to
take such a significant step without reference to China's ongoing
sales of non-nuclear weapons and technologies that threaten U.S.
troops, friends, and interests around the world. In addition to
complying with all legal and other obligations, we believe that to
merit implementation of the 1985 Agreement, China must demonstrate, by
actions as well as words, that its leaders understand that the spread
of dangerous and destabilizing weapons is not in China's interest.


Lastly, we note that the former senior officials from previous
administrations most responsible for negotiating the 1985 Agreement
have testified that, in their view, it is premature to implement the
Agreement at this time. Therefore, we respectfully urge you to
reconsider any plans to announce implementation at the summit or in
the immediate future.


Should you nevertheless decide to proceed, you are required, pursuant
to P.L. 99-183, to certify to Congress that China has met a number of
conditions, including that:


1. Effective measures are in place to ensure that any U.S. assistance
is used for the intended peaceful activities; and


2. China has provided additional information on its nuclear
non-proliferation policies, and that based on this and all other
information, including intelligence information, China is not in
violation of paragraph (2) of Section 129 of the Atomic Energy Act,
which inter alia bars U.S. nuclear assistance to any country that has
assisted any non-nuclear state in attempting to acquire nuclear
capabilities and has failed to take sufficient steps to terminate such
assistance.


In order to exercise our responsibilities as Chairmen of the
Committees with primary jurisdiction over the issues raised in such a
certification, we request that the following materials be submitted to
the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Committee
on Foreign Relations at the time you announce that you are certifying,
or intend to certify, pursuant to P.L. 99-183:


-- the written texts of any agreements with respect to Chinese
proliferation behavior upon which the Administration is basing its
certification, to include both the authentic Chinese text and the
official English translation;


-- all intelligence reporting and analysis on Chinese proliferation
activities since January 1, 1996, to include the intelligence upon
which the Administration is basing its certification, as well as all
intelligence that may contradict or not support the Administration's
conclusions;


-- any intelligence reporting on past Chinese diversions of any U.S.
technology for purposes other than those for which it was provided,
together with an assessment of the Intelligence Community's ability to
monitor U.S. nuclear exports to China under the Agreement; and


-- the complete texts of Chinese nuclear export control regulations,
to include both the authentic Chinese text and the official English
translation.


Thank you for your cooperation.



Sincerely,



Richard C. Shelby

Chairman, U.S. Senate

Select Committee on Intelligence



Jesse Helms

Chairman, U.S. Senate

Committee on Foreign Relations