Indian and Chinese satellite technology has eroded America’s decades old advantage in the field, CIA Director George Tenet has said.
“The unique space-borne advantage that the US has enjoyed over decades is eroding as more countries, including China and India, field increasingly sophisticated reconnaissance satellites,” Tenet told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.
Tenet also said that Russia has emerged as a major supplier of advanced technology and training to countries seeking to develop weapons of mass destruction.
“We face several unique challenges in trying to detect WMD acquisition by proliferant states and non-state actors. Their use of denial and deception tactics and their access to a tremendous amount of information in open sources about WMD production, complicate our efforts,” he said.
“Russia appears to be the first choice of proliferant states seeking the most advanced technology and training,” Tenet said in a wide-ranging testimony on threats facing the US.
Russian entities are providing other countries with technology and expertise on missiles as well as chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, he said. “The sales are a major source of funds for Russian commercial and defence industries and military research and development,” he said.
Tenet said that China and North Korea were major proliferators of missile technology. China is a key supplier of missile technology to Pakistan, Iran and several other countries, he said.
Most of China’s efforts involve development of solid propellant ballistic missiles, though it has also sold cruise missiles to Iran, he said. “This is inspite of Beijing’s November 2000 missile pledge not to assist in anyway countries seeking to develop nuclear capable ballistic missiles,” he said.
“We are closely watching Beijing’s compliance with its bilateral commitment in 1996 not to assist unsafeguarded nuclear facilities, and its pledge in 1997 not to provide any new nuclear cooperation to Iran,” he said.