Let me make a few things clear about the missing cipher chips from the Loral Intelsat that crashed in China. First, according to Tony Snow, the Loral satellite crashed almost intact. It was only later, after the satellite was being dis-assembled by US technicians, that the chips inside were discovered to be missing. This rules out the possibility of the chips being lost in the crash and clearly indicates they were removed prior to the flight by someone.

Second, these were not ordinary chips. There are already dozens of encryption chips on the market around the world but not this particular type. The Loral chips were designed to work in the harsh environment of space, blasted by radiation, intense heat, near absolute zero cold and vacuum. The engineering term is "hardened". Hardened chips are designed to function in space on a satellite.

There is only one other environment which has similar characteristics of space. The environment inside an atomic blast. The Loral Intelsat chips are designed to work under the intense bombardment of gamma, x-ray and heavy particle radiation found inside the mushroom cloud of radioactive debris from a nuclear blast.

There are some very obvious military uses for a "hardened" encrypted control chip. The "Self Destruct" is one feature controlled by code chips. Although, US ballistic missiles do not have a "self destruct" - feature the Russian and Chinese missiles reportedly do. The reason is simple. The Russians and Chinese do not trust their military.

Another system that would make use of such secured control chips is known as FOBS (fractional orbiting bombing system). FOBS is simply a bus load of bombs parked in orbit. This bus is just like a school bus of children. Whenever the owner of the FOBS wants a bomb to unload and drop from orbit all that is needed is to issue the proper command codes. The FOBS system is actually deployed on the Russian SS-18 SATAN ballistic missile. For the SS-18 - "bus" is an accurate description of the warhead system. The orbiting platform is about the size of a school bus and it can dump as many as 8 thermonuclear warheads from low earth orbit.

Yet one other feature is testing. Big missiles are expensive and sometimes known to fail. The Long March commercial satellite rocket has its own evil twin which carries nuclear warheads for the Chinese 2nd Artillery Corps. The Long March also has a great history of spectacular failures. Tests to make sure the thing will work are mandatory. These test flights usually are equipped with sensors instead of a bomb. The sensors transmit the particulars of the test flight (e.g... load dynamics, g forces, control effects... etc.) as "telemetry". Ronald Regan once had an intense hissy fit with the Russians when they began to use encryption to scramble their missile test flight data. His argument was "trust but verify".

Indeed, it is these words that should drive our high tech trade with China. We can trust if we can verify. The recent rejection by Chinese officials on the inspection of US built super computers sold to China is a denial of verification that they agreed to. The trade treaties which China signed with the US in order to obtain the computers in the first place, authorized such inspections. China agreed to the terms and signed. The communist Chinese denial of inspections are a clear violation of the signed trade agreements. We cannot verify that these super fast machines, so useful in missile and nuclear weapons design, are not being used for military purposes.

The most amazing part is the Commerce Department went ahead and okayed the shipment of another super computer even though the Chinese government refused to allow a pre or post-sale inspection! In short, a reward for bad behavior and a broken agreement.

Bill Clinton offers little to verify but exclaims we should trust him and the communist Chinese leaders. Clinton is to travel to Beijing shortly, to sign significant space and atomic energy deals. Bill Clinton has proven he gave China our advanced technology with no verification. Bill Clinton has proven that even Chinese violations of trade agreements are not enough to stop the sell, sell, sell juggernaut at the Commerce Dept. Bill Clinton has proven he will take Chinese money with no verification that it did not come from the People's Army.

The question for all Americans now is can we trust President Clinton without verification?

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