- WASHINGTON: President Bush
more than doubled the limit on the speed of supercomputers that US companies
can sell to such countries as China, Pakistan and India, a move some critics
said endangers US security. Under the new guidelines, US producers of supercomputers
can export hardware capable of running at 190,000 millions of theoretical
operations per second without notifying the federal government. The current
cap is 85,000 MTOPS.
"The president's decision will promote national security, enhance
the effectiveness of our export-control system and ease unnecessary regulatory
burdens on both government and industry," the White House said. "This
has nothing to do with national security," said Gary Milhollin, director
of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control in Washington. "We're
worried about nuclear war in India and Pakistan, but we're giving both
countries the means to make better nuclear weapons and better missiles
to deliver them with," he said.
"Their argument is that our computer companies will make more money,
and what's good for the computer industry makes America stronger because
it creates jobs and brings money in. National security's being equated
to profits," he said. "That's what they mean when they say that.
It's not true, of course."
Critics noted that supercomputers that run at such high speeds are used
only for two purposes: code decryption and nuclear-weapons development.
Stephen Bryen, director of Aurora Defense in Bethesda, said, "What
they really have in mind is keeping alive the supercomputer companies.
That's the only argument they can make that fits.
Bush notified congressional leaders that he was raising the threshold for
government approval of computer exports to "Tier 3" nations,
which the White House said includes India, Pakistan, all of the Middle
East, the countries of the former Soviet Union, China, Vietnam and parts
of southeastern Europe.
"These reforms are needed due to the rapid rate of technological change
in the computer industry. Single microprocessors available today - by mail
order and the Internet - perform at more than 25 times the speed of supercomputers
built in the early 1990s," said White House Deputy Press Secretary
"These changes will advance the president's goal of updating the US
export-control system so that it protects US national security and, at
the same time, allows America's high-tech companies to innovate and successfully
compete in today's marketplace," the spokesman added. The United States
will continue to maintain strict limits on computer exports to nations
under US sanctions, such as Iraq, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Cuba, Sudan
The issue has been contentious since the Clinton administration, when congressional
leaders opposed moves to raise the caps and to drop any distinction between
military and civilian buyers. The computer industry has been pushing for
the higher cap, which prompted Bush during the 2000 presidential campaign
to pledge he would raise the threshold.
In October 2000, then-Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse
Helms, North Carolina Republican, and Sen. Russell D. Feingold, Wisconsin
Democrat, strongly objected when President Clinton raised the cap to 28,000
MTOPS, a threshold that has been raised since.
The News International, Pakistan http://jang.com.pk/thenews/jan2002-daily/04-01-2002/world/w2.htm