Mr. THOMAS. Mr. President, I rise today as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs to express my grave concern at recent reports regarding the sale or transfer by the People's Republic of China of nuclear technology to third countries.
It has been widely reported in the domestic press that the U.S. intelligence agencies have thoroughly credible evidence that these sales have occurred; I have seen some of this evidence myself, as have many of my colleagues, and find it to be overwhelming.
In the past, we have seen evidence of missile sales to Pakistan, and the transfer of certain nuclear technology to Iran, in violation of United States law and international nuclear agreements. The most recent reports involved the sale of over 5,000 ring magnets to Pakistan. These magnets are component parts of centrifuges used to enrich uranium to make it weapons-grade. The magnets are made of a highly advanced alloy, and according to experts will significantly enhance Pakistan's nuclear program by allowing its laboratory at Kahuta to upgrade its centrifuges at the rate of between 1,000 and 2,000 per year.
The People's Republic of China has not denied that the sale took place. Somewhat inconsistently, Pakistan categorically denies these reports. Mr. President, Karachi's denials ring completely hollow. How many times did the Pakistani Government deny that it was pursuing the development of nuclear weapons, only to have the United States produce irrefutable evidence to the contrary? How many times did they assure us that they had no such intentions, only to be caught sneaking behind our backs doing the precise things they denied? Mr. President, one hates to use the word `lie,' but as the saying goes--if the shoe fits.
Almost more troubling than the sales themselves, Mr. President, is what is shaping up to be the Clinton administration's completely inadequate response to the sales. Under U.S. law, we are required to impose a variety of sanctions on any nation selling nuclear weapons technology in violation of nonproliferation commitments. Only if the President states that requirement because of the national interest are the sanctions waived.
Here, we have solid evidence that the People's Republic of China has violated its agreements in this regard. The failure to impose the sanctions required by our laws, I believe, is a mistake of the greatest magnitude. I can think of no worse signal to send the Chinese Government than for us to draw a line in the sand, have them cross it, and for us to shrug it off and say `now don't do that again.' The Chinese are quick to pick up on occasions when we fail to stick to our guns, and only see it as encouragement. This is why I have been so supportive of U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor. He has told the Chinese in the trade arena that if they do not abide by their agreements, there will be a price to pay. And, when necessary, he has moved steadfastly to impose that price in the form of sanctions. The Chinese, recognizing the strength of such a position, have subsequently backed down and honored their agreements.
For us to back down from our principles in this matter is to completely call into question our determination in a host of other areas, the security of Taiwan comes immediately to mind, and as Senator Specter has noted `make[s] our national policy a laughing stock and encourage[s] a proliferation of nuclear weapons.' Yet the Clinton administration is showing every sign of being willing to shrug off the People's Republic of China actions, rap them on the nose, and ask them to please not do it again.
During the 1992 presidential campaign, candidate Clinton took President Bush to task for `coddling dictators'--especially the Chinese. Well Mr. President, like he has on so many other issues that were central to his campaign President Clinton has flip-flopped on this one, saying one thing but doing some thing completely different. I ask my colleagues, who is doing the coddling now? The White House appears close to waiving sanctions because it is worried about offending China and because it is kowtowing to United States business interests in an election year afraid of the effects on their bottom-line that sanctions might have.
Can you imagine that, Mr. President? As the Washington Post pointed out this morning, `The Chinese are the accused violators, and the Americans--as the complaining and injured party--are backing off.' This administration is backing off in the shortsighted hope that Beijing has learned its lesson and won't do it again. It's like telling a child not to take a cookie, watching him take it, but not telling him he's a bad boy in the hopes that maybe he won't want to take another cookie. And this is not the only area in which the Clinton administration is coddling Beijing. USTR Kantor, who has on several occasions urged the White House to impose sanctions on the PRC because it is still in violation of several of the key provisions of the Sino-American intellectual property rights agreement, has been prevented by this administration from setting a deadline for Chinese compliance for fear of upsetting the violators of that agreement.
Mr. President, I join my colleagues in both Houses in calling for the imposition of the sanctions required by U.S. law in this case. We need to say what me mean, and then do what we say. Any failure or hesitation to do so can only be interpreted in Beijing as a sign of weakness, and sets a very dangerous precedent that we will regret down the road.