The Central Intelligence Agency did not play a decision-making role in the question of whether or not Wen Ho Lee should be prosecuted for mishandling sensitive nuclear weapons information. The Agency was asked to look at the potential value to unauthorized recipients of the information FBI said was included on the tapes Wen Ho Lee was alleged to have made, some of which were missing. The Agency did not make any recommendations about how the investigation should proceed or whether or not Wen Ho Lee should be prosecuted.
Unclassified Statement of DCI George J. Tenet
as Requested by the SSCI
At a December 4, 1999 meeting at the White House Situation Room, we were asked to summarize the potential value of the information FBI said was included on the tapes. Based on FBI's verbal summary of the tapes, they appeared to contain US nuclear weapon design codes and specific descriptions of the materials and geometry of several nuclear weapon primaries and secondaries. We briefed the attendees that this information would help primarily from a design perspective, providing significant insight and guidance almost equating to a graduate course in nuclear weapons design. But for a country to design, develop, test, and deploy a nuclear weapon, more is required than design codes; for example, a country must possess the requisite fissile material, the fabrication technology to build the device, and the engineering expertise to weaponize the device for delivery. The actual value of the information depends in large part on the capabilities of the country or group that received it. Our analysis included countries with robust nuclear weapons programs; with nuclear weapons programs but little or no testing; with limited or no programs but with high technological capabilities; and without technological capabilities.
Our participation in the meeting was limited to providing a brief summary of the potential value of the information if obtained by others.