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INTERNATIONAL > US missile shield may push China to renew nukes

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A Standard Missile, launched from the USS Lake Erie guided missile cruiser in the mid-Pacific, is seen in this photo. REUTERS photo

A Standard Missile, launched from the USS Lake Erie guided missile cruiser in the mid-Pacific, is seen in this photo. REUTERS photo

China may need to modernize its nuclear arsenal to respond to the destabilizing effect of a planned U.S.-backed missile defense system, a senior Chinese military officer said on July 18.

“It undermines the strategic stability,” said Major General Zhu Chenghu of China’s National Defense University about the U.S.-led development of a missile shield, which has also alarmed Russia.“We have to maintain the credibility of deterrence,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of a panel discussion on nuclear disarmament, referring to the military doctrine that an enemy will be deterred from using atomic arms as long as he can be destroyed as a consequence.

The United States is spending about $10 billion a year to develop, test and deploy missile defenses, which would include a European shield as part of a layered system.The defences would also include ship-based interceptors that could be deployed in the Middle East and Asia-Pacific - for instance as a hedge against North Korea - plus ground-based missile interceptors in silos in Alaska and California. The U.S. says the system in Europe is intended to counter a potential threat from Iran and poses no risk to Russia.

‘Credibility of nuclear deterrence'

The defenses would also include ship-based interceptors that could be deployed in the Middle East and Asia-Pacific - for instance as a hedge against North Korea - plus ground-based missile interceptors in silos in Alaska and California.

China “will have to modernize its nuclear arsenal” because the deployment of a missile defense system “may reduce the credibility of its nuclear deterrence,” Zhu told the seminar. “Therefore Beijing will have to improve its capabilities of survival, penetration ... otherwise it is very difficult for us to maintain the credibility of nuclear deterrence.” Joseph Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation, said any American military planner in Zhu’s position would say the same.

Planned anti-missile systems and other advanced weapons in the future could “make it theoretically possible for the U.S. to launch a first strike on China, knock out most of its 40 or so long-range missiles, and intercept any left that were launched in response,” he said.

July/20/2012

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