Mr. DOMENICI. Mr. President, for decades Los Alamos, Sandia, and Lawrence Livermore have attracted the greatest scientists in the world. That has not changed with the end of the Cold War; the knowledge and skills in those laboratories are unequaled in the world and the envy of the world--for that reason, others will always try to gain that information. The directors and scientists have, since the inceptions of the laboratories, been cognizant of the fact that they are the target of spying.
As we consider how to respond to these recent allegations--and some steps have been taken including: the initiation of an aggressive counter-intelligence program at the laboratories that has had its funding increase substantially in the last 24 months and we have halted a declassification initiative until its implementation can be reviewed--we have to ensure that our actions do not undermine the excellence of the laboratories.
Interactions with experts outside the laboratories and outside the United States are critical to the pursuit of scientific knowledge and underpin the vitality of the laboratories. Cutting off those interactions will cause the capabilities at the laboratories to fade with time until, at some point, no one would spy on our labs there wouldn't be anything worthwhile in them.
I have been briefed by:
The Director of Central Intelligence;
The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation;
Department of Energy officials, and others on the recent allegations of spying by the Chinese at Los Alamos National Laboratory. I will await the final report of the panel of experts appointed by the Administration before I assess what damage has been done by this latest episode, but some facts are evident.
We do know, without doubt, that China's intelligence program against the United States has yielded some results--they have gained access to classified nuclear weapons design information. However, we do not know how much information they have gained or how much that information benefited their nuclear weapons program.
I must also say that it is unclear how China gained that information. The Chinese do target our nuclear weapons laboratories, but they also target other potential sources of the same information including other parts of the government, its contractors, and the military branches.
It is also unclear how useful information China may have gained, about the W-88 in particular, is to China. The W-88 is extremely advanced; the product of fifty years of our best scientific and engineering know-how. In many ways, China's nuclear weapons program is not capable of utilizing the W-88 design.
That is not reassuring when you look out over the coming decades, and in any case, knowing where our years of work led our designers will allow the Chinese to avoid some of the mistakes we made, but the Chinese do not currently have warheads anything like the W-88.
Despite the fact that the Chinese capability today does not come anywhere near matching ours, the Chinese nuclear weapons program is threatening. China does share its nuclear weapons technology with others along with its missile technology, and it continues to develop more advanced nuclear weapons designs.
Chinese nuclear capabilities threaten its neighbors and limit the opportunities to pursue broad arms control agreements--for example, Russian negotiations on a START III treaty will be strongly influenced by the growing Chinese capability on Russia's eastern border, and India continues to develop more advanced nuclear weapons partly in response to China's program.
I will say very little about the allegations against a specific scientist at Los Alamos. However, given what we know about China's intelligence program, it is not unreasonable to assume that scientists at all three weapons labs have knowingly or unknowingly been approached to provide classified information to China or its intermediaries. The laboratories are cognizant of that threat. Frankly, I don't know if the steps the laboratories, working with the Department of Energy and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, are taking are sufficient to prevent espionage at our laboratories.
I have met with Director Freeh I, and he assures me that the FBI is doing all it can in this regard. I am certain that, no matter what steps we take, the Chinese and others will continue their efforts.