[IWAR] CHINA, SATELLITE low key response

From: 7Pillars Partners (partnersat_private)
Date: Thu Jun 25 1998 - 09:31:49 PDT

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    U.S. government plays down coding device loss in China
          Copyright  1998 Nando.net
          Copyright  1998 Reuters News Service
       WASHINGTON (June 24, 1998 8:57 p.m. EDT http://www.nandotimes.com) - The
       State Department Wednesday took a low-key approach to the loss of a
       coding device in the 1996 crash of a U.S. satellite launched in China,
       saying it was old technology that posed little risk to national
       Spokesman James Rubin did not rule out that Chinese officials might have
       removed the device after the crash of the communications satellite
       seconds after launch, but said it might also have been destroyed on
       "There is some chance that a third party could examine recovered devices
       to gain some knowledge," Rubin told a news briefing. "But we believe
       that the impact on national security would not be significant.
       "We are not talking about the technology that is used by American
       military satellites," he added. "The encryption device involved here is
       decades-old, and even if reverse-engineered, would only tell somebody
       where we were decades ago."
       A Chinese Long March 3B rocket was carrying the satellite for the global
       consortium Intelsat, when it crashed about 20 seconds after launch in
       China's central Sichuan province in February 1996. Chinese officials
       admitted at the time to four people killed and about 100 injured by the
       Rubin said that after the crash, the satellite's command processor boxes
       were recovered, "but not all of the circuit boards which contained the
       encryption information" used to send coded operating instructions to the
       satellite in orbit.
       The loss of the missing device was raised on Tuesday at a joint hearing
       of the House of Representatives National Security and International
       Relations Committees, at which officials from several government
       departments gave testimony.
       Rubin said the encryption involved embedded single-chip devices unique
       to that particular satellite, and older algorithms no longer used in
       newer satellites.
       "Therefore, any loss of the chips and associated encryption algorithms
       would have had only minimal impact," he said.
       "Our requirement was to ensure that the control of the satellite remain
       protected to prevent denial of service. The loss of this particular
       device at the time of launch, therefore, had no consequent risk to other
       communications or control of other satellites."
       But Rubin said that in continuing discussions with the Chinese about
       satellite launching, "we will want to find out what happened to this
       Asked whether the Chinese might have removed the board, he said: "I'm
       not ruling anything out ... We know that it wasn't there, and whether it
       was destroyed or whether it was removed is an open question."
       The disclosure about the missing encryption device added to a raging
       controversy in the United States about the use of Chinese rockets to
       launch American satellites.
       The Justice Department is already investigating the 1996 crash and
       whether Hughes Electronics Corp. and Loral Space & Communications Ltd.
       illegally gave China sensitive data. Loral manufactured the satellite
       The investigation has focused on a report by the two companies analyzing
       the crash that was sent to the Chinese without the U.S. government's
       The Justice Department said on Wednesday it was also reviewing a
       previous Chinese rocket-launch crash in 1995 as part of its
       investigation into the 1996 incident.
       The 1995 case concerned technical data Hughes gave to China after a
       Chinese rocket carrying a Hughes-made telecommunications satellite
       exploded shortly after launch.
       The Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday pursued its own
       investigation into possible transfers of sensitive information to China,
       hearing testimony at a closed session from Central Intelligence Agency,
       State Department and other officials.
       Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Shelby, Republican of Alabama, said
       later: "It is clear there were some serious problems with how U.S.
       companies interacted with Chinese launch service providers ... I was
       very disturbed by a number of things I heard today." He gave no details.
       By Patrick Worsnip, Reuters News Service

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