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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

USIS Washington 

09 April 1998


(Under Secretary's 4/9 briefing on recent trip to China) (600)
By Jane A. Morse
USIA Diplomatic Correspondent
Washington -- China's cooperation is "indispensable" if the United
States is to reach its nonproliferation goals of reining in missiles
and weapons of mass destruction, says John Holum, director of the Arms
Control and Disarmament Agency and acting under secretary of arms
control and international security affairs.
Holum briefed reporters at the State Department April 9 on the issues
he discussed with Chinese officials during his recent trip to China.
"China possesses all of the relevant technologies that we're concerned
about," Holum said. "China can either be a part of the solution, or it
will certainly be a part of the problem. We have a very high stake,
therefore, in bringing China into the community of countries who work
at controlling these technologies. The problem simply can't be solved
without China."
China has made "enormous progress" in its nonproliferation efforts,
according to Holum. In 1992, China signed the Nonproliferation Treaty;
and in 1996 it agreed to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. China has
agreed not to assist unsafeguarded nuclear facilities anywhere in the
world and is in the process of adopting export control regulations on
nuclear and dual use commodities of concern, he said.
China needs to do more, however, in the chemical weapons and missile
areas, Holum said.
Holum said that his most recent visit with Chinese officials sought to
advance "what we see as common goals" -- the focus being on
strengthening China's controls on missile technology.
Although China agreed in 1994 to abide by the guidelines of the
Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the United States would like
to see it become a full member, he said.
Holum acknowledged that it might be "some time" before the Chinese
will be interested in making such a move. "At the same time, it is
reasonable for us to focus on enlisting China in a comparable level of
controls" as it might observe as a full MTCR member, he said.
If China agrees to tighten its missile technology controls, Holum
said, the United States would be prepared to increase its cooperation
in space launches. For example, the United States would allow more
U.S. satellites to be launched on Chinese boosters.
Holum explained that the launch program started in 1989 but was
suspended because of the Tiananmen Square massacre of pro-democracy
demonstrators. The program was resumed in 1992 and a number of
launches have taken place. "We're willing to expand the number to
increase cooperation," Holum said. The increase, he said, "would be a
value to China."
Holum emphasized, however, that the United States has no plans to
offer missile technology to China.
Holum discounted the belief in some quarters that anything that the
United States might sell or transfer to China that would be licensed
under the MTCR would inevitably transfer missile technology to China.
"If we agree that a U.S. company can launch a satellite on a Chinese
rocket, that requires an export license," Holum explained. "But
whenever that's done, it's done under a strict technology security
plan so that no technology related to that satellite is transferred to
If China were a MTCR member, however, licensing could be expedited,
but China would not attain any missile technology as a result of the
license, he said.
Holum declined to describe the Chinese response to the U.S. proposal,
but said he looks forward to working with the Chinese on this issue.

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