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November 14, 2003
Notes from the Pentagon

DIA on China
The Defense Intelligence Agency believes China will not attack Taiwan in the next five years unless Beijing is faced with particular situations.

"It is unlikely that China will attempt an invasion of Taiwan in the next five years unless provoked by a major domestic or Taiwan-related incident," the DIA said in written answers to questions to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

China could attack if Taiwan formally declares independence or if there is "foreign intervention" in Taiwan's internal affairs, the agency said. Taipei's acquisition of nuclear weapons or "internal unrest" in Taiwan also could trigger a Beijing attack.

"China's leaders have also indicated that indefinite delays in the resumption of the cross-strait dialogue could be justification for the use of force," DIA said.

China has a "marginal" capability to conduct an amphibious assault against Taiwan and is lacking amphibious ships, the capability to do combined arms warfare and a logistics system, the agency said.

A successful Chinese attack would require "a multifaceted campaign" of air assault, airborne drops, special forces raids, mining and submarine operations, and warplane and missile strikes, the DIA said.

A Chinese attack "likely would succeed" unless there is "third party intervention."

The report states that China is improving the accuracy of the 450 short-range missiles opposite Taiwan. The 372-mile range CSS-6 missile is being upgraded with satellite navigation that will allow it to hit targets in Taiwan and Okinawa, where U.S. troops are based.

One man
To understand the difficulty of finding one fugitive (read Saddam or Osama) you only have to look at the seven-year effort to find former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic.

He is the most-wanted of war criminals sought by the International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. NATO has made his capture a top priority. Hundreds of U.S. intelligence and military personnel work to find him. Troops have conducted a number of raids in Bosnia, only to return to base empty-handed.

"No one we talk to has even seen him," says a military source.

The latest intelligence is that Karadzic, blamed for the deaths of thousands of Muslims and Croats in the 1992-95 Bosnian war, moves in and out of three areas: Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro. He never stays in one place long enough for a NATO informant to see him.

Iran nuclear program
The CIA has released new information regarding Iran's nuclear program. The agency in its semiannual report to Congress stated that Iran is developing both a uranium and plutonium program for its bombs.

"The United States remains convinced that Tehran has been pursuing a clandestine nuclear weapons program, in violation of its obligations as a party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty," said the report, known as the 721 Report based on the legislation requiring it.

The Iranians have insisted that their uranium enrichment is for making fuel for the Russian-made reactors at Bushehr and other sites. "We remain concerned that Iran is developing enrichment technology to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons under the cover of legitimate fuel-cycle activities," the report said.

It is the first official U.S. government report identifying Iran's nuclear arms research.

"Iran appears to be embarking on acquiring nuclear weapons material via both acquisition paths — highly enriched uranium and low burn-up plutonium," the report said.

The agency said a major problem is the uranium centrifuges that were discovered at Natanz. Such equipment can spin uranium gas into fuel for bombs, the report said.

The plutonium project is part of heavy water reactor research "that we believe could produce plutonium for nuclear weapons," the report said. "We also suspect that Tehran is interested in acquiring fissile material and technology from foreign suppliers to support its overall nuclear weapons program."

Clark's integrity
Ever since retired Gen. Henry H. Shelton said he could not support Wesley Clark for president because of "integrity and character issues," people have wondered exactly what the ex-Joint Chiefs chairman was talking about.

Gen. Shelton and then-Defense Secretary William S. Cohen relieved Mr. Clark of his NATO command rather than let him finish three months on his term, or extend his tenure for a year.

Sources tell us it was not one thing, but a series of actions by Mr. Clark, a retired general. They said he would repeatedly go around superiors who made decisions and try to get them reversed by higher-ups.

The issue arose again this week when the Associated Press quoted a Clark spokesman as saying Gen. Shelton's criticism is not valid because he is advising another man in the race, Sen. John Edwards, North Carolina Democrat.

"Shelton made an unsubstantiated charge against another candidate that has taken root, particularly among Republicans," Clark spokesman Matt Bennett said. "Shelton's not a credible witness because he's connected to one of General Clark's opponents."

An Edwards spokesman told AP that Gen. Shelton talks to the candidate, but has not formerly endorsed him.

Tommy cigar From all appearances, Tommy Franks is fast making the transition from four-star war commander to private citizen in Tampa, Fla.

There's Gen. Franks adorning the cover of the current Cigar Aficionado magazine — blue suit, yellow tie and a long, thick stogie nudged in his left hand. The last time he was photographed with a cigar he sat in one of Saddam Hussein's large palaces in Baghdad, savoring the dictator's military ouster.

Gen. Franks sat down for an interview with Cigar Aficionado's editor and publisher, Marvin R. Shanken, America's celebrator of fine wine, hard liquor and good cigars.

The general discloses we may not find Osama bin Laden for some time. "He may not be captured or killed in the near future," he says. "Do you know why? Because there is an ideology that is associated with the support of Osama bin Laden, and there are a great many households on the face of the earth that will accept him and support him. That is not the case with Saddam Hussein in Iraq."

On savoring a pungent cigar, he said, "It is relaxing. And during the course of the Iraq war, on a number of occasions, I'd sit outside in a number of Middle Eastern countries and just sit by myself and smoke a cigar. You know, I find that it's possible to spend a little too much time talking and not enough time thinking."

•Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough are Pentagon reporters. Mr. Gertz can be reached at 202/636-3274 or at Mr. Scarborough can be reached at 202/636-3208 or at

  • Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough are Pentagon reporters. Gertz can be reached at 202/636-3274 or by e-mail at Scarborough can be reached at 202/636-3208 or by e-mail at

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