WASHINGTON, Oct. 17, 1964 (UPI) -- Reconnaissance flights by the high-flying U-2 spy plane may have played a role in obtaining for the United States advance information on Red China's first nuclear blast. The U.S. intelligence system often has been criticized in the past for not for seeing events, but it was right on target in predicting Communist China's nuclear plans.
On Sept. 29, Secretary of State Dean Rusk announced to the world that China was then in a position to detonate its first nuclear device in the "near future."
How the United States got its information on developments behind the Bamboo Curtain will remain a closely guarded secret.
The most officials have been willing to disclose privately is that it came from a variety of sources and that it was confirmed by assessments of other governments.
One source may have been U-2 flights. There have been frequent reports-never publicly confirmed here-that such flights have been flown over mainland China by the Nationalist Chinese regime on Formosa.
Of all the major nations of the world, Red China has been the most secretive, the most "closed" society. The United States never has recognized the Peking regime and has no embassy there. It is therefore cut off from one of the normal channels of information gathering.
However, most officials report that nations such as Britain that have embassies in Peking get relatively little information from China lead fairly restricted lives with relatively little opportunity for much observation.