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LOS ANGELES (AP) - Two men attempting to board a plane to China with nearly a dozen sensitive infrared cameras in their luggage were arrested on Saturday, a federal official said.
Federal agents stopped the pair on the jetway as they were preparing to board the flight to Beijing.
The men had been in the United States for about a week, said Rick Weir, assistant special agent in charge of the Los Angeles office of the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security.
Yong Guo Zhi, a Chinese national, and Tah Wei Chao, a naturalized U.S. citizen, were arrested for investigation of trying to take thermal imaging cameras with potential military use to China without the proper export licenses, Weir said.
Julie Salcido, a supervising agent with the Bureau of Industry and Security, said one of the men purchased the cameras, assuring the seller repeatedly that they were only for domestic use.
"He repeatedly said he wouldn't export," she said.
Ten of the cameras, which measure about 2 inches square and cost about $5,000 each, were found in the men's checked luggage, Weir said. Salcido said it appeared they split the shipment up between them.
The cameras have both commercial and military uses but they are "very expensive, highly sensitive," Weir said. "They're not something you could buy off the shelf."
Newly declassified documents show that President Bill Clinton personally approved the transfer to China of advanced space technology that can be used for nuclear combat.
The documents show that in 1996 Clinton approved the export of radiation hardened chip sets to China. The specialized chips are necessary for fighting a nuclear war.
"Waivers may be granted upon a national interest determination," states a Commerce Department document titled "U.S. Sanctions on China."
"The President has approved a series of satellite related waivers in recent months, most recently in November, 1996 for export of radiation hardened chip sets for a Chinese meteorological satellite," noted the Commerce Department documents.
These special computer chips are designed to function while being bombarded by intense radiation. Radiation hardened chips are considered critical for atomic warfare and are required by advanced nuclear tipped missiles
Washington, D.C. - Top Communist Chinese military officials are being given access to numerous American military installations , including Patrick Air Force Base (PAFB), Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), and Kennedy Space Center (KSC). Officially, the tour is being touted as one to showcase the quality of life and the morale of American troops. The tour, however, also grants limited access to the Range Operations Control Center (ROCC) and a Space Shuttle Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF), both of which are crucial facilities to American launch operations.
Spacecoast Congressman, U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon, who was not notified by the Pentagon of this visit, called into question the itinerary and asked the Secretary of Defense to remove the ROCC and OPF from the agenda. He also requested that the Secretary permit a staffer from his office to accompany the tour. These requests were rejected.
As the Clinton administration debated whether to allow U.S. satellites to be lofted into orbit aboard Chinese missiles, Bernard Schwartz, chairman of Loral Space & Communications, and Democratic fund-raiser Johnny Chung, allegedly using money from the Chinese army, gave more than $500,000 in soft money, ostensibly used for `party-building efforts,' to the Democrats.