The Los Alamos National Laboratory, a foremost U.S. nuclear weapons producing facility, has removed network switches produced by Chinese firms, citing security concerns, according to an exclusive report from Reuters Monday.
The New Mexico laboratory also replaced at least two network components, according to a letter that was sent out in November and later seen by Reuters reporters. The letter states that the lab installed network devices made by Chinese firm H3C, a joint venture between China’s Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and the U.S. technology firm 3Com Corporation.
Huawei and ZTE Corporation were two companies accused by a U.S. congressional panel of being a threat to American interests.
An October report from the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) said that government agencies should avoid using those company’s products, while no U.S. firms should become involved in any mergers or acquisitions with either of the companies, citing espionage concerns.
Both firms were suspected of having ties with the Chinese regime and military. Huawei has denied that its products pose any security risks to American interests.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the HPSCI, said in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes,” “If I were an American company today and you were looking at Huawei, I would find another vendor if you care about your intellectual property, if you care about your consumer’s privacy, and you care about the national security of the united states of America.”
Under Chinese law, Huawei and ZTE must comply with the Chinese regime if it asks to use their systems, according to the congressional report. This means that it can “access them for malicious purposes under the guise of state security.”
The letter that Reuters viewed stated that a network engineer at Los Alamos told officials that H3C components “were beginning to be installed in” its networks. Los Alamos then found “that a small number of the devices installed in one network were H3C devices,” according to the letter.
Two H3C devices at the lab “used in isolated cases were promptly replaced,” the letter stated.
The letter suggested that H3C devices might still be used at Los Alamos, which is tasked with maintaining the U.S.’s nuclear arsenal and was the first site to design the atomic bomb.
“We would like to emphasize that (Los Alamos) has taken this issue seriously, and implemented expeditious and proactive steps to address it,” adds the letter.
H3C was sold to 3Com in 2007, and in 2010, 3Com was acquired by Hewlett-Packard. However, H3C—like many other firms—still manufactures many of its components in China.
In responding to the Reuters report, William Plummer, Huawei’s vice president of external affairs, told CBS’s ZDNet on Monday that “the integrity of Huawei’s operations and the quality and security of our products are world-proven,” adding that the U.S.’s fears are unfounded.
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