Stanford Panel Calls Cox Report Flawed and "Inflammatory

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

( - Five Stanford University scholars are offering a point-by-point rebuttal of a congressional report that said US security lapses allowed China to steal US nuclear secrets.

According to the Washington Post, the Stanford panel found the so-called Cox report contained significant factual errors, "inflammatory" language, and "unwarranted" conclusions.

Last spring, a House select committee chaired by Rep. Christopher Cox (R-CA) released a report concluding that "the People's Republic of China has stolen design information on the United States' most advanced thermonuclear weapons...that the PRC's next generation of thermonuclear weapons, currently under development, will exploit elements of stolen U.S. design information [and Chinese] penetration of our national weapons laboratories spans at least the past several decades and almost certainly continues today."

The Stanford panel concludes the Cox report presented "no evidence or foundation for these allegations other than recounting the existence of a 'walk-in' agent with some data on one system."

The "walk-in" agent was a Chinese official who gave the United States Chinese documents, dated 1988, on nuclear weapons. The incident triggered an investigation of US nuclear weapons laboratories, and it led to last week's arrest and indictment of a Chinese-American physicist, Wen Ho Lee, who pleaded not guilty to 59 criminal charges of mishandling top secret nuclear weapons data..

Some "important and relevant facts [in the Cox report] are wrong and a number of conclusions are, in our view, unwarranted," says the 99-page analysis by Stanford scholars, coordinated by Michael May, a former director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, who now serves as co-director of Stanford's Center for Internatinal Security and Cooperation.

The Stanford panel's report is the most detailed critique of the Cox report to emerge so far.

However, the Washington Post notes that in challenging the Cox commission's findings, May and his colleagues acknowledged that they had seen only the public version of the Cox report. "We realize that not all of the report was declassified, and thus some of the factual justification for the report's conclusions may be classified," May wrote.