US Report: China’s Nukes Getting Bigger and Better

A new congressional-funded report paints a dark picture of China’s nuclear weapons and missile modernization efforts.


The report, issued Nov. 19, by the US China Economic and Security Review Commission, states China will pose a threat to all US military forces, bases and assets in the Western Pacific within the next 10 years.

 
China will also be able to attack US national security satellites in a variety of ways — kinetic, laser, electronic jamming and seizing.

 

According to the report, China’s capabilities will hold at risk all US national security satellites in every orbital regime in the next five- to 10 years. “In space, China in 2014 continued to pursue a broad counter-space program to challenge U.S. information superiority in a conflict and disrupt or destroy U.S. satellites if necessary.”

 
Beijing also calculates its space warfare capabilities will enhance its strategic deterrent as well as allow China to coerce the US and others “into not interfering with China militarily.”

 
The report said China’s growing nuclear warfare capabilities are ominous. Over the next five years, China’s nuclear force will rapidly expand and modernize, providing China with an extensive range of military and foreign policy options and “potentially weakening U.S. extended deterrence, particularly with respect to Japan.’

 
Over the next three- to five years, China’s nuclear program will also become more lethal and survivable with the fielding of additional road-mobile nuclear missiles; five nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, each of which can carry 12 sea-launched intercontinental-range ballistic missiles (ICBM); and ICBMs armed with multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRV).

 
In 2013 the Pentagon reported that China’s nuclear arsenal consisted of only 50- to 75 ICBMs, with the number of ICBMs capable of reaching the United States could expand to more than 100 within the next 15 years. However, the report said some analysts assess China may be obscuring a much larger nuclear effort and have much larger stockpiles.

 
China’s growing sea-based nuclear deterrent began in 2007 with the commissioning of three Jin-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) and the expected introduction of two additional SSBNs by 2020.

 
The Jin’s SSBN’s JL–2 submarine-launched ballistic missile, appears to have reached initial operational capability, “giving China its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent.” The JL–2’s range of 4,598 miles gives China the ability to “conduct nuclear strikes against Alaska if launched from waters near China; against Alaska and Hawaii if launched from waters south of Japan; against Alaska, Hawaii, and the western portion of the continental United States if launched from waters west of Hawaii; and against all 50 U.S. states if launched from waters east of Hawaii.”

 
Besides submarines, the major concern in the report is China’s proliferation of road-mobile nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, such as the DF-31. In 2006, China deployed the DF–31 ICBMs and, in 2007, the more advanced DF–31A ICBMs. Road-mobile systems allow for faster launch times and make them difficult to locate and attack. “The DF–31A has a maximum range of at least 6,959 miles, allowing it to target most of the continental United States.”

 
China is testing a new road-mobile ICBM, the DF–41. The DF–41, which could be deployed in 2015, could carry 10 MIRVs and have a range of 7,456 miles, “allowing it to target the entire continental United States.” China might have modified the DF–5 and the DF–31A to carry MIRVs. “China could use MIRVs to deliver nuclear warheads on major U.S. cities and military facilities as a means of overwhelming U.S. ballistic missile defenses.”

 
The report cites a Chinese media depiction of the potential destructive effect of a MIRV-capable ICBM on Los Angeles. The article, “China Has Undersea Strategic Nuclear Deterrent Against United State for the First Time,” appeared in the Global Times on Oct. 13, 2013.

 
The author, Pei Shen, included a map of Los Angeles under nuclear attack by a JL-2. “After a nuclear missile strikes a city, the radioactive dust produced by 20 warheads will be spread by the wind, forming a contaminated area for thousands of kilometers.”

 
The article notes that the survival probability for people outdoors in a 746 to 870 mile radius was zero. “Based on the actual level of China’s one million tons TNT equivalent small nuclear warhead technology, the 12 JL–2 nuclear missiles carried by one JIN nuclear submarine could cause the destruction of five million to 12 million people, forming a very clear deterrent effect.”

 
Noting that there was not a “dense population” in the Midwest region, the best way to increase the destructive effect was to target the main cities on the West Coast, such as Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego.

 
Source: DefenceNews / Nov. 19, 2014

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