China, charges Thomas Reed, is continuing to transfer uranium and nuclear technology to Iran. In an interview posted yesterday on the U.S. News & World Report website, the former U.S. Air Force Secretary also refers to Beijing’s use of the North Koreans to distribute nuclear and missile technology to Syria, Pakistan, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen in addition to Iran.
Why did the Chinese decide to proliferate nuclear weapons technology? “They did so deliberately with the theory that if nukes ended up going off in the western world from a Muslim terrorist, well that wasn’t all bad,” Reed says, citing a decision made by Deng Xiaoping in 1982. “If New York was reduced to rubble without Chinese fingerprints on the attack, that left Beijing as the last man standing.”
Reed is correct when he points out that China has been a rogue nuclear state for a long time. In fact, China was helping Pakistan build a bomb as early as 1974, long before Deng took power in 1978. So, for more than three decades, the Chinese have been spreading the world’s most destructive technology to Islamic fanatics. We can understand why Beijing would wish us harm, yet it is difficult to comprehend why successive American administrations, especially those of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, have failed to speak out about Chinese proliferation, even when Beijing had been caught red-handed.
These two presidents, as powerful as they were, may not have had the means to stop China’s transfer of nuclear technology, yet they failed to sanction Beijing or even speak out about what was happening. Both of them were responsible for many failures during their times in office, but these are by far the worst.
Washington evidently believes that, if we do not criticize the Chinese in public, one day they will eventually stop proliferating. As Reed notes, many younger officials in Beijing realize the lunacy of their country’s pro-proliferation policies-he suggests they don’t want to incinerate Los Angeles because they can’t then sell us sneakers-but at this time there is no consensus in the Chinese capital to change course from Mao’s and Deng’s policies. By the time China becomes a responsible nuclear power, it will undoubtedly be too late.
By refusing to oppose those who wish us harm, we are creating the conditions for our own destruction.