|HOME | NEWS | REPORT|
|July 23, 1998||
China allegedly tested rocket motor during Clinton visit
China test-fired a rocket motor for its newest long-range missile during President Clinton's recent visit to China, the Washington Times reported, quoting Pentagon officials. In another report, the daily said China continued to supply missile technology to Iran and Pakistan last year.
It says one motor test for the DF-31 missile in July was part of China's ongoing strategic weapons modernisation effort, which included producing six new long-range missiles in the first four months of the year.
Commenting on a report about the surge in ICBM production, the state department said on Tuesday that China's strategic nuclear modernisation would not affect efforts to develop a co-operative security relationship with Beijing.
''The US and China are building a co-operative security relationship, as symbolised by the agreement of the two presidents not to target strategic nuclear missiles at each other,'' state department spokesperson James P Rubin said, referring to last month's summit.
''At the same time, we are aware that China continues its limited efforts to modernise its nuclear forces,'' he said.
Asked about the Times report, Defence Secretary William S Cohen declined to comment.
The daily quoted Pentagon officials with access to intelligence as saying that the test-firing of the new solid-fuel rocket motor was part of efforts to develop Beijing's newest ICBM, the DF-31road-mobile missile. When deployed in the next several years, the missile will be the second mobile ICBM in the world. Russia's SS-25 is now the only mobile ICBM in service.
The official said the test was unusual because it came during Clinton's June 27 to July 3 visit.
A US official who is an expert on missiles said he believes the Chinese intentionally timed the test to coincide with Clinton's visit. He noted Secretary of State Warren Christopher travelled to China several years ago to discuss human rights and the Chinese responded by arresting dissidents before, during and after the visit.
''President Clinton said proliferation would be high on his agenda (during the summit), and by testing this key component for a new long-range missile when they did, the Chinese have made clear their lack of respect for both the President and his message,'' the official said.
This official does not believe China has ''de-targeted'' its long-range missiles away from US cities despite its recent pledge. The Central Intelligence Agency reported earlier this year that 13 of 18 CSS-4 missiles are targeted at US cities.
INFOTECH | TRAVEL | LIFE/STYLE | FREEDOM | FEEDBACK