Beijing ‘close’ to sub-nuke warheads
WASHINGTON - Reuters
A Chinese submarine is seen in Qingdao in this 2009 photo. A new report says China is within two years of deploying submarine-launched nuclear weapons. REUTERS photoChina appears to be within two years of deploying submarine-launched nuclear weapons, adding a new leg to its nuclear arsenal that should lead to arms-reduction talks, a draft report by a congressionally mandated U.S. commission said.
China in the meantime remains “the most threatening” power in cyberspace and presents the largest challenge to U.S. supply chain integrity, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission said in a draft of its 2012 report to the U.S. Congress. China is alone among the original nuclear weapons states to be expanding its nuclear forces, the report said. The others are the United States, Russia, Britain and France.
Beijing is “on the cusp of attaining a credible nuclear triad of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and air-dropped nuclear bombs,” the report says. China has had a largely symbolic ballistic missile submarine capability for decades but is only now set to establish a “near-continuous at-sea strategic deterrent,” the draft said.
Chinese President Hu Jintao has made it a priority to modernize the country’s navy. China launched its first aircraft carrier, purchased from Ukraine and then refurbished, in September.
The deployment of a hard-to-track, submarine-launched leg of China’s nuclear arsenal could have significant consequences in East Asia and beyond. It also could add to tensions between the United States and China, the world’s two biggest economies.