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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

TRANSFER OF NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY PUTS NATION AT RISK (House of Representatives - March 09, 1999)

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The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Reynolds). Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 6, 1999, the gentleman from California (Mr. Rohrabacher) is recognized for 30 minutes as the designee of the majority leader.

Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from New Mexico.


Mr. UDALL of New Mexico. I thank the gentleman from California (Mr. Rohrabacher) for yielding.

I rise, Mr. Speaker, to introduce the Radiation Exposure Compensation Improvement Act of 1999. There is a companion bill in the other body authored by Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico. This bill seeks to compensate uranium miner victims for their losses. It also seeks to compensate the millers and transportation workers who received radiation exposure. The Federal Government was aware of the dangers and yet it allowed thousands of men to be exposed to high levels of radiation, causing death and serious injuries. The Congress has acted once before on this issue, but we did not go far enough. The bill moves us in the right direction. It moves us in a just direction.

  • Mr. Speaker, for more than 50 years, the U.S. Government has ignored a group of its citizens who are most in need of its attention.

  • For years, our government asked its citizens in Arizona, Utah, Colorado and new Mexico--many of whom lived on the Navajo Reservation--to serve their country by mining, milling, and transporting uranium.

  • For 50 years, these citizens did what was asked of them. But slowly, Mr. Speaker, over the years they began to realize that their lives were changing. More and more of them were becoming sick. They were developing respiratory problems. They were developing cancer.

  • Although the Federal Government had adequate knowledge of the hazards involved in uranium mining, miners were sent into inadequatly ventilated mines with little or no knowledge of the dangers they were being exposed to.

  • In 1990, Congress realized that something had to be done. So it passed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) to compensate underground miners in several of the states where uranium mining occurred.

  • Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, we did not go far enough.

  • Over the past 9 years, we have learned much more about the effects of radiation on our health and communities.

  • We know now that exposure to radiation was not limited solely to miners, but to those who milled and transported the ore.

  • We know now that exposure to uranium is responsible for more medical conditions than originally thought.

  • And we know now that the devastating effects of exposure to uranium extends far beyond the few states included in the original law.

  • Mr. Speaker, it is time for us to make things right.

  • That is why today I introduce the Radiation Exposure Compensation Improvement Act of 1999. This bill has bipartisan support and is co-sponsored by my colleague from New Mexico, Mr. Skeen.

  • The credit for this bill belongs to those activists who have dedicated their lives to correcting this injustice. This is a companion bill to legislation introduced in the other body by Mr. Bingaman of New Mexico, and co-sponsored by the Democratic leader in that body, Mr. Daschle.

  • First, our legislation expands the geographic area eligible for compensation to include the Navajo Reservation. According to a recent study by the National Cancer Institute, Navajo children in the 1950s found themselves exposed to extremely high levels of radiation during the period of heaviest fallout from the Nevada Test Site.

  • There are several differences between this legislation and similar legislation introduced in this body during the last Congress.

  • (1) We include transport workers who may have been exposed to radiation while transporting the uranium away from the mines.

  • (2) The compensation we provide for the so-called `downwinders' includes diseases that were not previously attributed to radiation exposure, and are not included in the House bill. These include salivary, urinary, colon, brain, ovarian and male breast cancer. The RECA improvement bill needs to keep pace with medical knowledge.

  • (3) We direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretary of Energy, to report on the known health effects to communities where there were uranium mines and mills. A report on the status and outcomes of reclamation of uranium mines, mills, and mill tailings is required along with recommendations for further action.

  • (4) Finally, we ask the Secretary of HHS to evaluate access to and quality of diagnostic health services for all affected populations.

  • Mr. Speaker, this issue belongs to the people. We would not be as far along without the help of many people from throughout the affected areas. I would like to recognize some of those individuals.

  • J.C. Begay, Delegate to the Navajo Nation Council

  • Herbert Benally, Churchrock Chapter President

  • Timothy H. Benally, Sr. Uranium Education Office

  • Roxanna Bristow, Colorado Uranium Workers Council

  • Doug Brugge, Ph.D.

  • Cibola County, New Mexico County Commissioners

  • Suzan Dawson, Ph.D., University of Utah

  • Carole Dewey

  • Leroy Esplain, Office of Navajo Uranium Workers

  • Anna Frazier, Dine CARE

  • Curtis Freeman, Utah Uranium Workers Council

  • John Fowler, Navajo Uranium Millers Radiation Victims

  • Tom Gregory, Albuquerque Miners and Millers

  • Phil Harrison, Jr., Navajo Uranium Radiation Victims Committee

  • Paul Hicks, New Mexico Uranium Workers Council

  • Al Waconda, Laguna-Acoma Coalition for a Safe Environment

  • Alexander Thorne, Northern AZ Navajo Downwinders/Radiation Victims

  • Hazel Merritt, Utah Navajo DownWinders Committee

  • Tommy Reed, Jr., Post '71 Uranium Miners

  • The Navajo Nation Council

  • Melton Martinez, Eastern Navajo Agency & Western States RECA Coalition

  • Bill Redmond, Former Member of Congress

  • Liz Lopez-Rall, Mayor of Milan, New Mexico

  • Paul Robinson, Ph.D., Southwest Research and Information Center

  • Lloyd Totalita, Governor of Acoma Pueblo

  • Ron Ortiz, City Councilman, Grants, New Mexico

  • Gary Madson, Ph.D., University of Utah

  • Alice May Yazzie, Community Organizer

  • Ben Shelly, McKinley County, New Mexico County Commissioner

  • Kevin Martinez, Esq.

  • Ken Martinez, New Mexico State Legislator

  • `Mag' Martinez, Vice President of New Mexico Uranium Workers Council

  • Bill Snodgrass, Mayor of Grants, New Mexico

  • Mr. Speaker, this bill to amend the 1990 RECA is the beginning of a long process to remedy these injustices. It corrects omissions in the current law and makes the law consistent with current medical knowledge.

  • The time for us to act is now. The people of the affected areas deserve no less.

Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Speaker, this week shocking information became available to the American people that cries out for a change in U.S. policy toward Communist China. Some of us have long warned about the deadly transfer of American technology to a government that is the worst human rights abuser in the world. The Communist regime in Beijing has long benefited from a policy that ignores its genocide, its militarism, its abuse of religious believers and its fundamental antagonism toward the Western democracies. Now we find that American technology, developed with billions of U.S. tax dollars during the Cold War, intended to deter nuclear strikes against the United States by the Soviet Communists, that this awesome technology has now made its way into the hands of a regime that hates everything America stands for and is determined to dominate the 21st century.

Specifically, this weekend the American people, through an investigative report by the New York Times, found out that China has made a quantum leap in modernizing its nuclear missile force with the help of American technology and know-how. Beginning last year, I have come to this floor on numerous occasions, perhaps sounding like a bellwether in the night, a warning bell, trying to get people's attention that something dreadful was happening to our national security. I have done my best to alert my colleagues and the American people to the danger that we are now beginning to realize. What we are talking about is a dictatorship that is hostile to the United States, that is militaristic and expansionist in its policies.

The most recent revelation is that this Communist Chinese regime has obtained secrets from the Los Alamos nuclear weapons laboratory that has permitted them to produce miniaturized nuclear warheads that enables them to deliver a devastating attack against the United States and its allies. The Communist Chinese as a result now have the ability to carry more than one warhead on their rockets and to launch nuclear weapons from submarines and other vessels at every American State and every American city. This is a nightmare. It is almost beyond comprehension. It is a nightmare even more so when we realize that people like myself and others have been trying, have been struggling over these past months, over these past years, to draw attention to the potential danger. And now we find out that not just the Chinese rockets have been upgraded by American aerospace companies, with the acquiescence of this administration, these rockets, their capabilities, and the reliability of those rockets improved by American technology, but now we find out that stolen from us in a sustained and comprehensive espionage effort by the Communist Chinese, they have managed to steal from us the very secrets that will permit them to build nuclear weapons that are of a small enough size to put in those rockets and to be delivered to the United States which might cause the death of tens of millions of Americans.

Mr. and Mrs. America, it does not get much worse than this. The Communist Chinese have had an ongoing and a sustained espionage campaign targeting America's most sensitive weapons technologies. Our country has been put in grave jeopardy. The safety of every man, woman and child in every community in our land has been put at risk. The transfer of American nuclear technology, coupled with the upgrading of Communist Chinese rockets by American aerospace corporations, is the worst betrayal of our country's safety since the Rosenbergs. The New York Times story reported this very point, that it is the worst betrayal since the Rosenbergs. In that New York Times story, this very point was made by the CIA's counterintelligence chief.

It is time for us to wake up. It is time for our outrage to be felt. It is time for us to change our policies before a catastrophe happens. What do we need? Do we need a detonation of a weapons system that was developed by the taxpayers of the United States in a city of the United States by a hostile power before we wake up?

In short, the transfer of weapons technology to the Communist Chinese has been a debacle of historic proportions. This could well shift the balance of power in the world and change history, as well, of course, put millions of Americans at risk. What we have been able to do in the last decade has been based on a very fragile balance of power. We have a rogue nation in Communist China that obviously does not care about the losing of millions of its own citizens. Yet we have tried to engage this very same government entity that controls Communist China, this dictatorial regime. Instead of drawing closer to our allies in the Pacific, we have tried our best to try to draw closer to this Communist regime in the nonsensical belief that the closer you get to tyrants would make them less aggressive and less tyrannical, less abusive. This has demoralized our democratic allies in the Pacific, and it has actually increased the disdain that the Communist Chinese rulers in Beijing have for the people of the United States. The more that our people that represent the United States like Madeleine Albright who was recently in Beijing, the more they go into the Communist Party headquarters in that country and proclaim a belief in human rights and a belief in democracy, yet we are unwilling to do anything to back up those words with deeds in any way, the more disdain they have for us, the more they are committed to wiping out the degenerate Americans who mouth cliches but have no belief in anything. It underscores our weakness to these dictators. Strength of purpose, strength of protecting our own national security interests, strength of protecting the people of the United States who rely on us, these are the things that dictators and militarists understand. They do not understand sincerity and honesty and laying it all out and going through some sort of sensitivity training with these militarists.

Perhaps the most irksome aspect of this whole, and I would say debacle, this whole revelation that our weapons systems that we paid so dearly for during the Cold War to protect our own country, now having been made available and put into the hands of Communist Chinese who hate our way of life, perhaps the most irksome aspect of this is that the Clinton administration has for years downplayed this information and belittled those of us who were trying to counteract this danger. This administration has in fact interfered with investigations and undermined the efforts of patriotic government watchdogs to address this threat.

High level officials told the New York Times that although the White House was fully briefed on the scope of the Communist Chinese espionage aimed at our country, they were briefed on this as early as 1997, that the matter was ignored and even covered up because it would interfere with the Clinton administration's policy of engagement with Communist China.

The chief of intelligence at the Department of Energy, who first discovered the Los Alamos case, this fact that our most sensitive nuclear laboratory had been compromised, he briefed the National Security Council of the Clinton administration and the CIA and he was ordered by senior administration officials not to tell Congress about this grave threat to our security, to the well-being of our people, because

critics might use his findings to attack President Clinton's China policy. Well, that is certainly true. While we were complaining that American technology was being used to upgrade Communist Chinese rockets and missiles, while we were complaining that sensitive weapons technology was going into the hands of the world's worst human rights abuser, the Communist Chinese government, yes, we would liked to have known that the espionage of the Chinese Communists had permitted them to get their hands on the technology and the information and know-how they needed to produce miniaturized atomic bombs, and to let my colleagues know the magnitude of this, those miniaturized atomic bombs have the strength and the power of 10 times the power and the nuclear capabilities of the bomb that we dropped on Hiroshima, 10 times that destructive power in these miniaturized weapons. Smaller atomic bombs could then be put on rockets, Communist Chinese rockets that have been increased in their capability and reliability by American technology.

As I say, this is catastrophic. It takes the breath out of one's lungs to consider the magnitude of the words that I am saying and the magnitude of that New York Times report. But that the Clinton administration knew of this and continued its efforts to downplay our attacks on the technology transfer, it is more than wishful thinking. This has got to be more than wishful thinking. It has got to be looked at as insanity, an insane policy.

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This coverup is of critical national security information, so we would not know that the Chinese communists had gotten their hands on these atomic weapon secrets. This coverup is of severe consequence to our country because we in the House of Representatives and in the Senate of the United States have not now been able to do our job and watch out for the interests of our people, which is our job, as well as that of the President.

To put this in perspective, President Clinton has insisted on labeling our relationship with the Communist regime that controls the mainland of China as a strategic partnership. This insistence that they call the Communist Chinese our strategic partners was going on at a time when his administration had been briefed of a espionage effort that had resulted, already resulted, in the Communist Chinese obtaining these nuclear weapon secrets that enable them to put our people in jeopardy. They are insisting on calling it a strategic partnership, and when I asked an administration official what was that all about, it was strategic partnership against whom, there was nothing to say.

Strategic partnership; what does that mean when we have a partnership with a country that is the most oppressive government of the world, the world's worst human rights abuser? Does it mean that we are in partnership against the democratic government of the Philippines where they now are expanding and trying to take over the Spratly Islands, the islands that are 800 miles off of their shore, but 150 miles off the Philippines? Is anywhere going to end a partnership against Japan? Does it mean we are in a partnership against Taiwan? How about a partnership against Malaysia or Singapore? Does it mean that we are in a partnership against the people of China itself? That we are the partnership with the regime, the dictators, against those people who would struggle for democracy, who would struggle for democracy in China itself? How this administration can use this word and insist on using this phraseology knowing that the Chinese Communist espionage effort had already acquired our atomic secrets, knowing that American companies had gone over and improved the capability of their rockets. Knowing about the repression that is going on there, it is beyond me.

I yield to my colleague.

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Mr. HAYWORTH. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from California, and he addresses concerns that have been on the minds of the American people in the wake of revelations that we first saw, Mr. Speaker, on the pages of the New York Times, because as my colleague from California (Mr. Rohrabacher) knows, and indeed, Mr. Speaker, as you full well know, given the culture of this particular town and the way in which certain revelations are sometimes labeled, it almost seems as if on the part of some folks in this town there is a little box that reads: in case of emergency or a public relations meltdown, break glass and say everybody did it and everybody has made mistakes. But let us reiterate for the Record from the pages of the New York Times what was reported this weekend.

Quoting now at the Energy Department:

Officials waited more than a year to act on the FBI's 1997 recommendations to improve securities at the weapons laboratories and restrict the suspect's access to classified information.

And even more tellingly, Mr. Speaker, the article continues, quoting again now:

The department's Chief of Intelligence who raised the first alarm about the case in 1995 was ordered last year by senior officials not to tell Congress about his findings because critics might use them to attack the administration's China policies.

Mr. ROHRABACHER. Would that be considered coverup?

Mr. HAYWORTH. What it should be considered at the very least is outrageous behavior that sacrifices the legitimate national and security interests of the United States to political designs, and political campaigns and of public relations effort, quite apart from policy indeed, as my colleague from California is aware, and, Mr. Speaker, as you, too, are well aware.

There is a very interesting book that has been published and appeared on the scene entitled Year of the Rat which talks about allegations, allegations that now have been borne out by independent press inquiries that sadly, Mr. Speaker, this administration sought campaign cash not only from American citizens, as is their want under the law under legal circumstances, but apparently sought campaign cash from officials affiliated with the Peoples Liberation Army, so the accounts have been reported.

`Curiouser and curiouser,' said Alice about such developments, but this is not Wonderland, this is the real world, and the future of American security is at stake.

Mr. ROHRABACHER. To amplify, if I may reclaim for a moment, on that point, and again this is a little bit too horrifying for Americans to comprehend. I mean this is one of those facts that we like not even to think about. We want to turn off the TV and pretend it does not exist. But the fact is that during the last election the top contributor to the President's reelection effort was Bernie Schwartz, who was the head of Loral Corporation, and we now have ample evidence that Loral Corporation was one of the American aerospace firms that helped upgrade the capabilities and reliability of Communist Chinese rockets. Couple that with now this understanding that the espionage effort by the Communist Chinese, which was ongoing, had collected these miniaturized atomic bombs, the ability for the Communist Chinese to make them, this is the most heinous betrayal, and who can think worse?

Mr. HAYWORTH. And, as my colleague I am sure will agree, Mr. Speaker, it is incumbent upon this House, if no one else, especially at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, will act as a steward of national security, it is incumbent upon this House, if the White House will not release the findings of the Cox Select Committee in its report, it is incumbent upon this House to go into closed session and to vote out that report so that every American can understand the extent to which our security may have been compromised.

Mr. ROHRABACHER. It is beyond belief that we have a report by the Cox Select Committee into this ongoing systematic espionage by the Communist Chinese as well as the transfer of technology over the recent years and that that report, the Communist Chinese know what they got from us, our government now knows what they got from us. The only people who do not know are the American people.

And during this time period, as I say, while the American people are being kept in the dark about something that is threatening the lives of their children, and their families, and their communities, this administration continues to call the Communist Chinese our strategic partners. This is beyond, as I say, beyond comprehension.

Then by the way, even after the White House was alerted to the scope and the magnitude of the Chinese nuclear weapons build up and the transfer and the theft of American technology, the White House continued its

efforts to loosen the controls of the sale and the other forms of transfer of dual-use weapons technology from American corporations to Communist China.

Just the other day we had a major vote in the Committee on International Relations on this issue, and the administration was proposing what I considered a loophole, and a way for getting more weapons technology. Indeed there was civilian applications for these technologies, but they were clearly weapons-related technologies as well, setting up some sort of a loophole for them to get into China.

And last summer, when President Clinton was in Beijing meeting with Communist Chinese, the Chinese military successfully tested. While he was in Beijing, they tested the first time a motor for their new DF-31 missile, a missile that will enable them to hit the United States with a nuclear attack from the mainland of China. This happened while the President was there. The President was alerted to this, and yet there was no indication that he raised this issue with his hosts.

What are the Communist Chinese to think? We give them these platitudes about human rights, and then we have nothing to back it up, there is no action at all taken to back it up, that we insist on a change in their policy. They must mean we do not believe in that. And then we are there at a time when the President of the United States is there with them, they are conducting a weapons test, making a mockery of his visit, and the President does not have the courage to bring this up? No wonder they hold us in disdain.

I yield to the gentleman from Arizona.

Mr. HAYWORTH. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from California for yielding, and, Mr. Speaker, I would point out the comments of the majority leader in the other body on this Hill, Senator Lott saying in a televised interview this weekend that in the wake of these revelations concerning China, and technology transfers and espionage in the nuclear field that it is entirely reasonable, prudent and proper for this Congress to reevaluate whether the People's Republic of China should gain admission to the World Trade Organization. Mr. Speaker, what should be understood by the Communist Chinese is that provocative actions carry consequences.

If my friend would indulge me, a personal recollection in my first term. The Counsel General of the Chinese Embassy from Los Angeles paid a visit to Arizona, and he said, paraphrasing: `We want to be friends.' And I said to him, `Good, let us speak as friends.' It is extremely disturbing to hear the bellicose statements of the Chinese defense minister who threatens our mainland in the wake of a crisis involving Taiwan and Formosa by saying, quote:

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We believe the Americans value Los Angeles much more than they value Taiwan.

I asked him, and I would ask all in this body and all within the sound of my voice, especially our friends, Mr. Speaker, from the PRC who may be monitoring this, how else do we interpret those remarks other than a threat?

Mr. ROHRABACHER. Reclaiming my time for a moment, that was clearly a veiled threat, if not an unveiled threat, and what was it made over? Why were they threatening us? They were threatening us because we were standing between them and intimidating the people on Taiwan not to hold free elections. They were involved with an act of aggression upon people who were trying to conduct a free election.

So now we have in the United States, we have a government that has declared the Communist Chinese our strategic partners and continue to do so even after they have made threats to blow up Los Angeles, even after they have conducted aggression in the Spratly Islands and in the South China Sea against the democratic countries and with the knowledge, as we know now from this New York Times report, that the Communist Chinese were in the midst of obtaining sensitive atomic secrets that we had paid for to build their own nuclear weapons and that we and American aerospace companies with the acquiescence of this administration had been, as my colleagues know, upgrading Communist Chinese rockets' reliability, and their effectiveness and their capabilities.

What message are we sending to the Communist Chinese, what message are we sending to our democratic allies? No wonder why the Chinese are becoming more aggressive and disdain the Clinton administration when the Clinton administration tries to warn them about anything. There is nothing that that administration can say that will be taken seriously by these militarists in Beijing when they know that our administration knows about these vile acts and these threats against us.

Mr. HAYWORTH. I would simply add, Mr. Speaker, my colleague, that those who watch around the world, Mr. Speaker, would do well to remember that ours is a constitutional republic with a Chief Executive who is, quite correctly, our commander in chief. But they should understand a lesson that ofttimes escapes them in terms of the nuances of the big picture, and it is this. This Congress constitutionally is charged with oversight. When it comes to our national security, when it comes to the well-being of this American Nation, when it comes to our legitimate concerns overseas, it is this Congress which maintains oversight of the Executive Branch, and those who feel they can inject themselves into the American political system with campaign contributions and other forms of influence and somehow change our policy, while there may be evidence of that occurring sadly, it will change.

The American people deserve nothing less than a government that deals with them honestly and protects them.

Mr. ROHRABACHER. Let me reclaim my time so we know the administration will try to fuzzy this issue by claiming that some of these thefts that we are talking about started during the Reagan years. And let me be very specific when they were making this attempt to cloud this issue.

During Ronald Reagan's term of office I was working in the White House. During that time period there was a strong democracy movement building in Communist China, and, yes, we cooperated with the Communist Chinese in order to split them away from the Russians, a tactic that ended the Cold War. But at the same time we pushed for democracy.

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We did not give meaningless platitudes to requests for democracy and human rights, and there was a thriving democracy movement that we thought could well take over China. We thought it was irreversible at the time, and it was not until the massacre at Tiananmen Square that that optimism should have been reversed.

The fact is that we could well have had a democratic country in China by now, but what happened was during those years some of this information the communists were able to steal from us but we realized that the government itself in China may be undermined by the democratic movement there.

There was an excuse for having looser controls at a time when communist China was becoming more democratic. After Tiananmen Square, when they massacred the human rights workers and the democratic movement, there is no excuse as the country, as communist China, slid further into militarism, into tyranny and into hostile positions to the United States of America. So, thus, during the Reagan years, yes, some problems happened, but during the Clinton years, when there was no excuse whatsoever because the democracy movement had been annihilated and in fact the human rights report last year of the Clinton administration noted that there has been a substantial decline in human rights even from last year, which was already on the way down, that there was no excuse for this administration to try to cover up the wrongdoing of that regime and no excuse for them to cover up the threat that that regime was putting itself in to threaten our well-being and our security by upgrading their own military capabilities, especially in their weapons of mass destruction.

So I would hope that my colleagues and the American people are not confused, intentionally confused, by this administration in an attempt to shuck the responsibility and to throw off the responsibility. For the fact that our country has been put in terrible jeopardy, at a time when they knew the facts, when China was becoming more totalitarian, when they had been briefed on this threat, they continued to belittle those of us who were calling attention and sounding the alarm.


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