Not all of our secrets were stolen...some were given to the Chinese by the Clinton administration.
Scientist: Clinton Administration Gave China Top Nuclear Secrets
March 11, 1999
A scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has provided information that seriously contradicts Clinton administration claims that nuclear secrets obtained by China were solely the result of espionage during the late 1980's.
In the wake of allegations that the Clinton administration has been slow to investigate the theft of nuclear secrets by China, Vice President Al Gore has sought to deflect criticism on to the Reagan and Bush administrations.
"This happened in the previous administration, and the law enforcement agencies have pressed it, and pursued it aggressively with our full support," Gore told CNN.
A nuclear weapons scientist, who has sought anonymity "to keep my position and keep supporting my family," has informed NewsMax.com that the Clinton administration has, in fact, aggressively sought to provide China with some of the nation's most closely guarded nuclear weapons technology.
"It seems like every day there are more and more Chinese at Livermore," he stated. The scientist said the administration had facilitated the transfer of laser technology employed in the process of making nuclear weapons-grade plutonium.
"Early in the 1980's a process was developed at Lawrence Livermore for producing weapons-grade plutonium," the scientist explained, revealing for the first time details of a U.S. government project then considered the government's most important.
Plutonium is a critical ingredient in a nuclear warhead, but for military applications, plutonium must be processed to change the isotope to weapons-grade. Weapons-grade plutonium is critical for developing nuclear weapons that are both highly reliable and produce a predictable yield when exploded.
The New York Times reported last week that U.S. intelligence officials had evidence China had made significant advances in it nuclear weapons program. Specifically, China had designed and tested miniaturized nuclear warheads. Federal authorities have suspected the technology for the specialized weapons was the result of espionage at Los Alamos National Laboratory, the sister facility to Lawrence Livermore.
Chinese success in developing such nuclear weapons, as well as large strategic warheads, while increasing their stockpile of approximately 500 warheads, has been dependent on China's ability to process plutonium.
For decades, creating weapons-grade plutonium was an expensive and time-consuming process. A huge plutonium processing plant at Hanford, Washington completed this task for U.S. defense needs.
According to the Livermore source, in the 1980's, at the height of the Cold War, the U.S. government had a "prime interest" to create a more efficient process to "separate or enrich fissile materials to enriched weapons-grade" plutonium.
The development of this plutonium process paralleled Livermore's development of a laser technology to process uranium, needed for civilian nuclear power plants. This technology to process uranium, called AVLIS or the Atomic Vapor Laser Isotope Separation -- was turned over in 1995 to the United States Enrichment Corporation, a private company that uses the technology for the benefit of nuclear power plants.
The plutonium project was, however, at the heart of Livermore's mission to develop America's strategic arsenal.
"This was the highest funded project and the most secret project the government had. So secret in fact, a special security compound known as the 'super block' was created within the processing area, simply known as Building 332."
The "super block" -- a series of buildings housing nuclear weapons design and development programs -- is one of the nation's most highly guarded complexes, with rings of barbed wire fence, and a complement of specially trained federal guards who have access to automatic weapons and an armored personnel carrier on premises. Deadly force is authorized against intruders.
The Livermore scientist states that within the secure compound, a special building was constructed for the development of this "new highly secret process" for plutonium.
During the Reagan and Bush administrations, the compound's already intense security was beefed up because of the "global implications if this technology ever leaked out."
Such technology could not only allow Third World countries like Iraq and Iran to overcome the significant obstacles in processing plutonium, it would allow existing nuclear club members like China to cheaply and quickly build a large nuclear stockpile.
Ominously, the scientist stated that all persons who worked on the project "were warned of the world wide political instability that would occur if a foreign power was to get this secret."
This concern for security for the weapons enriching laser process, however, quickly faded during the Clinton administration.
During the Clinton administration's first year, China began making overtures to gain access to Livermore's weapons-grade enriching process.
For years the work at Livermore had been a prime target for Chinese espionage. In 1988, the FBI's Chief of Counterintelligence, Harry Godfrey III, told the Los Angeles Times that China was "the most active foreign power" seeking America's military secrets. Godfrey said Livermore National Laboratory was among China's main targets.
Concerns about China's intentions diminished after Clinton's inauguration, and China began more formal steps to gain access to Livermore.
China's efforts culminated with a delegation of Chinese scientists who visited Livermore in the winter of 1994, and another visit by Department of Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary at about the same time.
O'Leary's Department and the University of California jointly administer Livermore, with the DOE in charge of ensuring control over nuclear secrets.
"O'Leary's meeting was held in the California Room in Building 111. She arrived very late that day because of the flu or suspected food poisoning while in Silicon Valley that morning."
After the meeting, the scientist recalled several Livermore scientists in a heated debate over whether "this type of information [relating to weapons enriching laser process] should be considered for technology transfer" to China.
The deal with China for the technology transfer was consummated, the scientist said, sometime later that year after O'Leary's visit, when top DOE officials, Department of Commerce officials representing Ron Brown, White House representatives and Chinese government officials met in a guarded room at the Pleasanton Hilton nearby to Livermore.
O'Leary, now in private business, did not respond to a call for comment.
Lawrence Livermore officials voiced skepticism about the scientist's claims.
Jeff Garberson, senior manager for external relations for Livermore, said that to the best of his knowledge he was unaware of any process developed at the laboratory using lasers in the plutonium process or for that matter any transfer of nuclear secrets to the Chinese.
He said Chinese contact at Livermore has been "small." In recent years, he said the lab had stepped up non-proliferation programs with Russian scientists, and Chinese scientists had expressed interest in joining that program.
He had no information about a secret meeting at the Pleasanton Hilton relating to these matters.
Garberson said that the rules at Livermore "remain by law: no transfer of classified technology to Russia and China" is permitted, and said he was familiar enough with programs there to know that no technologies had been reclassified to allow for Commerce Department officials to sell the technology abroad.
The Clinton administration had reset long-standing policies relating to technology transfers. By March of 1994, the administration had abolished the COCOM system that had safeguarded technology transfers from Western countries to East Bloc or communist nations.
Later the White House took the key decision-making powers over technology transfers from the State and Defense Departments and gave them to the Commerce Department.
These changes greatly expedited sales of U.S. technology, including supercomputers once prohibited for sale to communist countries and useful in developing nuclear weapons.
Another oft cited example of the administration's method of reclassifying military secrets surfaced in a 1998 New York Times report by Jeff Gerth. Gerth revealed that in 1996, Loral, an American aerospace company, had, without a license, provided China with ballistic missile technology that enabled China to improve its rocket guidance systems.
When the Justice Department began a grand jury probe of this apparent illegal transfer, President Clinton quickly reclassified the technology and approved its transfer, effectively undermining the Justice Department's case against Loral.
Edward Teller, former director of Lawrence Livermore laboratory, told NewsMax.com that while he regards the allegations surrounding technology transfers to China as serious, he said he was less concerned about espionage, and more concerned with the Clinton administration's failure to fund new weapons development programs during the past six years.