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February 3, 2011
Notes from the Pentagon

Chinese arms proliferation
Numerous diplomatic cables from Beijing show that Chinese companies are continuing to sell to Iran and other states goods for the production of weapons of mass destruction because the Beijing government has failed to stem the activities.

The latest cable, made public this week, is an April 3, 2008, missive with the headline "China urged to investigate possible chemical weapons precursor export to North Korea."

The cable says the U.S. embassy presented details of the transfer and repeated China's response that it takes the problem seriously.

It also says an embassy political officer asked China's Chen Kai, a Foreign Ministry arms-control official, about two Chinese companies, Zibo Chemet and Dalian Liaosin Trading Co., and was told the Chinese were investigating one of the companies' export activities.

Another cable, dated April 11, 2008, also presents a remarkable example of Chinese dissembling regarding a shipment of chemicals used in the making of poison gas.

The cable, labeled "secret," says that "China determined that the end-user of sodium sulfide to be transported on the M/V Iran Teyfouri is located in Armenia and not Iran, MFA Arms Control and Disarmament Department Chemical and Biological Weapons Division Deputy DirectorYang Yi told PolOff on April 11."

According to the cable, Ms. Yang read from a "prepared points" paper that said China attached "great importance" to intelligence on arms proliferation provided by the United States and conducted an immediate and thorough investigation.

Ms. Yang then made the remarkable statement that the shipment from the China Northern Chemical and Minerals Co. was not to Iran but to Armenia. The Chinese official claimed the shipment was just making a stop at the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas before being transferred to Armenia.

"When asked if this controlled chemical was a typical Chinese export to Armenia, Yang said she is not certain, but claimed the chemical is 'very common' in mining and textile operations. She did not have permission to share the name of the Armenian firm," the cable states.

Without calling Ms. Yang a liar, the cable says an embassy political officer "pointed out that when the M/V Iran Teyfouri sailed from Tianjin in January, the [Chinese] investigation concluded that the vessel stopped in Singapore. However, publicly available information indicates the vessel sailed directly to Iran. This calls into question the credibility of the information provided to [Chinese] investigators. How can China be certain the results of this investigation are accurate? Yang said she only has authorization to report that the Chinese investigation shows the final destination of the cargo is Armenia."

The cable indicates Chinese government complicity in hiding proliferation activities by Chinese companies.

Earlier cables disclosed by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks showed that China facilitates missile-related air-transport flights from North Korea to Iran.

A third cable, from July 11, 2009, from the secretary of state, says U.S. intelligence had information showing that a Chinese subsidiary of the German firm Voetsch Industrietechnik sold a VC3 7018 test chamber to Iran's Defense Industries Organization (DIO), an entity sanctioned under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1737.

That sale was carried out by "Chinese national and known proliferator QC Chen," who had been "working to arrange training on the test chamber for DIO representatives - likely on the premises of Voetsch China."

"Although this particular test chamber is not controlled by the Missile Technology Control Regime, it is suitable for subjecting missile components and systems to the harsh environmental conditions experienced by missiles during launch, flight, and reentry," the cable says.

The cable adds, "Chen is a known proliferator associated with several Chinese entities, including the Wha Cheong Tai Company and China North Wanxing International Company."

Chilton on missile defense
Air Force Gen.Kevin P. Chilton, who retired last month as commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, said U.S. missile defenses need to improve as the threats from missiles develop.

"I think missile defense requires improvements as the threat improves," Gen. Chilton told Inside the Ring before Friday's change of command, which brought Air Force Gen.C. Robert Kehler to the commander's post.

Gen. Chilton said the two levels of missile defense include defending "fielded forces," such as ships at sea that will be attacked by ballistic missiles such as China's new anti-ship ballistic missile.

"We have to be able to defend against them," he said.

Not only ships, but land and air forces must be protected from missile attacks, and such theater-level defenses "will beg continuous improvement," he said.

Defending the U.S. homeland is a second element. "And it's really important that we understand why we feel the [Ground Based Interceptors] that we have in Alaska and Vandenberg Air Force Base, and that entire system, it was to deter, to be part of a deterrence calculus with North Korea, a rogue state," Gen. Chilton said.

The current system is not intended to counter Russian or even Chinese strategic nuclear capabilities. "And if it's ever perceived to be meant to do that, it will lead to another arms race, which is not to the benefit of the United States or China or Russia. We don't want that."

However, "on the other hand, we would not want to envision a world without missile defense 10 years from now with a North Korean dictator with an intercontinental ballistic missile and nuclear weapon," he said.

A North Korean dictator armed with long-range nuclear tipped missile "would be in a position to deter us in assisting our allies," he said.

"He could look at some future president and say, 'You want to trade Seattle for Seoul?' He can't do that because of our missile-defense system. That's the reason we have it, so that we cannot be deterred, in my view, in meeting our commitments to our allies in the region, by a nation-state like North Korea or Iran, who could hold some of our allies at risk in Europe and potentially the United States one day."

Gen. Chilton said missile-defense deployments need to walk a fine line between being ready to counter North Korean and Iranian nuclear missiles and avoiding undermining or weakening Russian or Chinese nuclear missiles.

Asked if the Pentagon is developing a counter to China's anti-ship ballistic missiles, Gen. Chilton said he did not know the answer but added that his comments about countering anti-ship ballistic missiles referred to the general need to "to improve our missile-defense capabilities to handle advancing threats that will always be evolving with regard to the threats to our fielded forces."

Missile defenses are not stagnating technologically. "I think they will continue to improve," the four-star general said.

Chief vs. admiral
When Navy Adm.John C. Harvey received an e-mail from a retired chief, some on his staff took it as a not-so-veiled threat.

Mark Best, the former chief petty officer who years ago served in Adm. Harvey's fleet squadron as a nuclear technician, was mad over the admiral's decision to relieve Capt. Owen Honors of his command and launch an investigation of him by U.S. Fleet Forces Command.

Capt. Honors had produced some raunchy videos aboard the carrier USS Enterprise that were leaked to the press just as Capt. Honors was about to take the ship to sea.

Chief Best reminded Adm. Harvey that he, too, had taken part in hijinks at sea. He included a photograph of the admiral as a young officer taking part in traditional hazing as his ship crossed the equator.

"Funny that you, ADM Harvey, orders and [sic] investigation of the off-color stuff produced for crew entertainment during a deployment nearly 4 years ago, but here is a picture of you with your arm around a Sailor in drag and an obvious bit of hazing," Chief Best wrote. "The ENTERPRISE video was intended for crew entertainment while on deployment ... a way to let off steam, much like the crossing the line ceremony.

"This is what happens when we allow political correctness to ruin our Navy. This is what happens when we replace the core principles of HONOR, COURAGE, COMMITMENT.

"Just let this go. Captain Honors has now brought apparent discredit upon the Navy. Let him retire gracefully for the service that he has performed (I do not know the man) but was obviously talented enough to qualify to command a nuclear carrier."

Chief Best signed his e-mail, "Just my humble opinion."

Chief Best told special correspondent Rowan Scarborough the e-mail was in no way a threat.

"It was no threat intended," he said. "It was just an opinion that there's a lot of things that happen at sea to make the crew morale better."

Chief Best, who retired in 2001, said he included the line-crossing photo of Adm. Harvey to make a point.

"It's the same thing," he said. "He did the same thing when he was a junior officer. It happened today. All I said was let Capt. Honors retire in peace. Trying to keep 18- to 20-year-olds motivated to fight a war and leave their loved ones for six, seven, eight months at a time - things happen in a closed environment like a Navy ship. That [video] was never intended to leave the ship."

Inside the Ring published the photograph earlier this month after obtaining it from a source other than Chief Best.

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