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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

RNC Backgrounder

May 22, 1998

In permitting US satellites to be launched in China:

Mr. Clinton, You’re No Ronald Reagan

The Clinton Administration is trying to defend its irresponsible transfers of missile technology to China by claiming that Presidents Reagan and Bush permitted US satellites to be launched from China. Here are the facts:

  • Neither Reagan nor Bush approved the transfer of advanced technology to China that would endanger US national security. President Reagan did allow China to launch two communications satellites in 1988. He – and, later, President Bush -- were compelled to grant licenses because of the enormous backlog of launches forced by the Challenger disaster (no shuttles were launched for almost 3 years after Challenger), a series of Titan launch failures at Vandenberg, and French problems with launches from French Guyana. Clinton, however, turned a closely supervised short-term remedy into reckless permanent national policy.
  • Unlike Clinton, Bush imposed a strict, national security regime. Reagan and Bush permitted launches only after a rigorous, multi-agency review process involving the Pentagon, the State Department and the CIA, and a strict, 9-point procedure to ensure that only non-military, non-sensitive technology was involved.
  • Clinton – not Reagan or Bush -- overruled the Pentagon and the Secretary of State to dismantle the national security regimens and allow satellite licenses to be granted by the Commerce Department. Clinton reversed the Reagan-Bush strict national security regimen, moving satellite licensing to the Commerce Department, overriding an Advisory Council composed of State, Defense and the CIA. A memo from Secretary of State Warren Christopher expressed the concern that embedded in the satellites were technological secrets that could jeopardize "significant military and intelligence interests."
  • Clinton – not Reagan and Bush -- extended an additional satellite license to Loral despite Pentagon and Justice Department opposition. Clinton quietly signed an additional license to Loral over the objections of the Justice Department, which was conducting an investigation into allegations that Loral had provided China with a review of its rocket and missile capabilities that the Pentagon concluded had harmed American national security and advanced Chinese guidance capabilities.

There are no parallels between what Clinton did and what Bush, Reagan or any other President has ever done.

Under Reagan and Bush,

China did not have accurate and reliable nuclear missiles

targeted on America’s Cities.


Now they do, and it’s Bill Clinton’s fault.


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