A leading U.S. nuclear weapons laboratory recently discovered its computer systems contained some Chinese-made network switches and replaced at least two components because of national security concerns, a document shows.
A letter from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, dated November 5, 2012, states that the research facility had installed devices made by H3C Technologies Co, based in Hangzhou, China, according to a copy seen by Reuters. H3C began as a joint venture between China’s Huawei Technologies Co and 3Com Corp, a U.S. tech firm, and was once called Huawei-3Com. Hewlett Packard Co acquired the firm in 2010.
The discovery raises questions about procurement practices by U.S. departments responsible for national security. The U.S. government and Congress have raised concerns about Huawei and its alleged ties to the Chinese military and government. The company, the world’s second-largest telecommunications equipment maker, denies its products pose any security risk or that the Chinese military influences its business.
Switches are used to manage data traffic on computer networks. The exact number
of Chinese-made switches installed at Los Alamos, how or when they were acquired, and whether they were placed in sensitive systems or pose any security risks, remains unclear. The laboratory — where the first atomic bomb was designed — is responsible for maintaining America’s arsenal of nuclear weapons.
A spokesman for the Los Alamos lab referred enquiries to the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, or NNSA, which declined to comment.