Korea’s Nuclear Arsenal Continues to Grow

Report: North Korea still expanding nuclear arsenal, could have 30-40 warheads by 2020

North Korea is reportedly expanding its nuclear arsenal, all while participating in nuclear disarmament discussions with the USA.

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Director Dan Smith claims that Kim Jong Un may have around 30 to 40 nuclear warheads in his possession (as everything in North Korea belongs to the dictator).

While North Korea has not officially tested a nuclear weapon or ballistic missile since 2018, Smith believes the ‘Hermit Kingdom’ is continuing its nuclear weapon research.

“The definition of denuclearization is a big thing to be worked out,” he said.

According to Newsweek, experts believe that North Korea will likely maintain nuclear weapons, regardless of any treaty it may sign.

For Smith, it’s a matter of U.S. diplomacy -and possibly show of force- that will tip the balance more than South Korea ever could.

“The definitive key to unlocking the problems does not lie in South Korea’s hands. It lies much more in American hands,” he said.

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China Flaunts Her Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

China to show off advanced nuclear weapons in National Day parade and ‘send message to US about capabilities’ | South China Morning Post

10:31pm, 28 Aug, 2019

China is planning to make its strategic nuclear missiles and advanced fighter jets the centrepiece of its National Day military parade in what military sources and analysts said was an attempt to show off its achievements in overhauling its armed forces over the past few years.

Military analysts said the show of nuclear strength was intended to demonstrate China’s enhanced deterrence and second strike capability, especially to the United States.

“The parade is to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1,” one military insider said.

“So it should let the whole world see China’s achievement of military modernisation under the leadership of President Xi Jinping since he came to power [in 2012].”

The military insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that weapon systems such as DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missiles and J-2 submarine-launched ballistic missiles have already been moved to Beijing. A squadron of J-20 jets, the country’s first stealth fighter, is also preparing for the event.

The DF-41 is capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads and its range of at least 12,000km (7,460 miles) means it can hit any target on the US mainland.

The JL-2, which has a shorter range of 7,000km (4,350 miles), is also able to hit parts of the American continent when launched from the sea.

Neither weapon was featured in the country’s biggest-ever military parade, which was held in 2017 at the Zhurihe base in Inner Mongolia to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army – though other advanced weapons were displayed.

Photographs published online suggest that reinforcement work is already underway at subway stations under Changan Avenue and Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing.

This work along the likely route of the parade suggests that it will feature launch vehicles capable of carrying DF-41s and other heavy weapons systems.

Hong Kong-based military analyst Song Zhongping said it was likely that Beijing would want to use the parade to send a “warning message” to the US in light of the continuing tensions between the two countries.

“China has invested a lot of resources into military science and technology development in a bid to enhance its nuclear deterrence capability over the past years, which Beijing believes represents a strategic measure in countering the global military hegemony [of the US],” Song, who is now a military commentator for Phoenix Television in Hong Kong, said.

He noted that the US has started making new low-yield warheads for its Trident missiles which “lowered the threshold on the use of tactical nuclear weapons”.

“It may even use nuclear weapons in future battles and that [has given legitimacy] for other countries to develop countermeasures,” Song added.

Adam Ni, a researcher at Macquarie University in Sydney, said that the coming parade would provide a good opportunity for China to show off the breadth of its strategic nuclear deterrent.

“The deployment of DF-41 is a big step for China’s nuclear deterrence because it is a more powerful ICBM with greater range and [can carry] more warheads and boasts advanced technology,” he said.

He said the weapon was highly mobile, harder to detect than silo-based systems and better able to survive a first strike.

He described it as the “ultimate symbol of the destructive potential of China’s armed forces”, on a par with those of the US and Russia.

Another military source said that other nuclear weapons like the DF-26 anti-ship missile, and hypersonic missiles such as the DF-17 and DF-20 which are capable of breaching missile shields, would also be put on display.

Chinese military specialists said that the DF-17 was one of several hypersonic glider systems developed by the PLA.

But the source said: “In order to avoid unnecessary misjudgments by the US, cutting-edge assault-type nuclear weapons like the DF-27 long-range ballistic missile, which has a longer range and greater precision, will not be displayed this time.”

The China Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

Here Is China’s Plan for a Nuclear War Against America

The major thrust of the article in that issue on the impact of the DF-26 on nuclear strategy seems to be to try to debunk the argument that China’s deployment of this new type of missile is “destabilizing.” Like their American counterparts, Chinese strategists seem to be increasingly practiced (at least in a domestic context) at selling the argument that more and new types of weapons enhance deterrence and thus strategic stability.

When one reads enough Chinese naval literature, diagrams of multi-axial cruise missile saturation attacks against aircraft carrier groups may begin to seem normal. However, one particular graphic from the October 2015 issue (p. 32) of the naval journal Naval & Merchant Ships [舰船知识] stands out as both unusual and singularly disturbing. It purports to map the impact of a Chinese intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) strike by twenty nuclear-armed rockets against the United States.

Targets include the biggest cities on the East and West Coasts, as well as in the Midwest, as one would expect. Giant radiation plumes cover much of the country and the estimate in the caption holds that the strike “would yield perhaps 50 million people killed” [可能造成5000 万死亡]. The map below that graphic on the same page illustrates the optimal aim point for a hit on New York City with a “blast wave” [火风量] that vaporizes all of Manhattan and well beyond.

That makes the North Korean “threat” look fairly insignificant by comparison, doesn’t it? But what’s really disturbing is that the scenario described above envisions a strike by China’s largely antiquated DF-5 first generation ICBM. In other words, the illustration is perhaps a decade or more out of date. As China has deployed first the road-mobile DF-31, then DF-31A and now JL-2 (a submarine-launched nuclear weapon), China’s nuclear strategy has moved from “assured retaliation” to what one may term “completely assured retaliation.”

Indeed, the actual theme of the article featuring those graphics concerns recent reports regarding testing of the DF-41 mobile ICBM. The author of that article, who is careful to note that his views do not represent those of the publication, observes that when a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson was queried about the test on August 6, 2015, the spokesperson “did not deny that the DF-41 exists” [并没有否认‘东风’41 的存在]. The author also cites U.S. intelligence reports, concluding that four tests have now been conducted, including one that demonstrates multiple-reentry vehicle (MIRV) technology. The author estimates that DF-41 will finally provide China with the capability to launch missiles from north central China and hit all targets in the U.S. (except Florida). With the goal of better understanding the rapidly evolving strategic nuclear balance between China and the U.S. and its significance, this Dragon Eye surveys some recent Mandarin-language writings on the subject of Chinese nuclear forces.

To be sure, a flurry of Chinese writings on the nuclear balance did follow after the September parade in Beijing that highlighted Chinese missile forces. Perhaps the most remarkable revelation from the parade was the unveiling of the DF-26, a new, longer-range anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM), based on the revolutionary shorter-ranged cousin, the DF-21D ASBM. In fact, the November 2015 issue of the aforementioned journal ran a series of articles on the DF-26. In those articles, the weapon is described multiple times as a “nuclear conventional dual-purpose” [核常兼备] weapon. The major thrust of the article in that issue on the impact of the DF-26 on nuclear strategy seems to be to try to debunk the argument that China’s deployment of this new type of missile is “destabilizing.” Like their American counterparts, Chinese strategists seem to be increasingly practiced (at least in a domestic context) at selling the argument that more and new types of weapons enhance deterrence and thus strategic stability.

Despite the developments related above, the balance of opinion in Beijing seems impressively moderate on the prospects for a major nuclear buildup by China. In the allegedly nationalist forum of Global Times [环球时报], one commentator from the China Institute for International Studies (associated with the Foreign Ministry), for example, offered a few illuminating comments about a year ago in an expert forum entitled “How Many Nuclear Warheads Are Enough for China?” He is evidently concerned that “We have heard some new voices calling to ‘build a nuclear force appropriate for a great power.’” Instead, he argues that China must continue to focus on building a “small, elite and effective nuclear forces” [精干有效的核力量]. Likewise, a former vice-director of the Chinese Navy Nuclear Security Bureau offers that China is a medium-sized nuclear power, which should learn from the experience of Britain and France and deploy no fewer than four submarines carrying nuclear weapons (SSBNs)—far fewer than operated by either Russia or the United States.

Yet one can still find in that same analysis ample concern among Chinese specialists regarding new directions in U.S. military capabilities that could threaten China’s deterrent. Another concern amply evident in Chinese writings concerns tactical nuclear weaponry. Most of this reporting of late concerns a recent upgrade to the American B-61 nuclear bomb. A full-page graphic in the same issue that discusses the DF-41 missile tests offers many specifics on the B-61, including its “dial-a-yield” [威力可调技术] feature that enables the operator to choose destruction on a scale ranging from fifty to 0.3 kilotons. That same month, in the magazine Aerospace Knowledge [航空知识], a “centerfold” featured the SS-26 Iskander, a Russian short-range tactical nuclear weapon. Elsewhere, I have, moreover, documented Chinese discussions of tactical nuclear weapons for anti-submarine warfare, as well as the importance of nuclear-tipped submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCMs) for strategy in the late Cold War. Let’s hope that these are just academic discussions in the Chinese context and do not reflect actual weapons under development.

As one can see from this discussion, there is ample reason for anxiety with many new Chinese nuclear systems now coming online, as well as substantial reason for optimism. As an author who frequently rides China’s high-speed rail [高铁], I am acutely aware that astronomical sums of money spent on that system could just as easily have been spent building an enormous arsenal of nuclear weaponry. That was not done and it’s certainly good that Chinese leaders have their priorities straight. American strategists need to keep this Chinese restraint in mind, especially as they weigh both new, expensive weapons systems (missile defense augmentation, the new strategic bomber, SSBN-X and also prompt global strike) and a set of measures to counter Beijing within the maritime disputes on its flanks.

This first appeared several years ago and is being reposted due to reader interest.

Image: Reuters.

The Asian Nuclear Horns Continue to Grow (Daniel)

India, Pakistan and China increasing nuclear arsenals size

Abdus Sattar Ghazali, The Milli Gazette Online

Published Online: Jun 23, 2019

At the start of 2019, the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea had a total of some 13,865 nuclear weapons, according to a new report by the Stockholm-based International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

That represents a decrease of 600 nuclear weapons compared to the start of 2018 but all nuclear weapon-possessing countries are modernizing (upgrading) these arms – and China, India and Pakistan are also increasing the size of their arsenals, the SIPRI report added.

North Korea has an estimated 20 to 30 nuclear warheads, which SIPRI said was a priority for the country’s national security strategy. However, it noted that North Korea has not tested a nuclear weapon or long-range ballistic missile since it entered into denuclearization talks with the United States in 2018.

France has 300 nuclear warheads, China 290, the UK 200 and Israel 80 to 90.

To date, the United States is the only country to have the ignominy of resorting to the use of nuclear weapons when it dropped two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima (August 6, 1945) and Nagasaki (August 9, 1945) in the final days of World War II.

Within the first four months of the bombings, the radiation had already killed 90,000–166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000–80,000 in Nagasaki; nearly half of the deaths in each city occurred on the first day of the bombings.

Israeli nuclear arsenal

In total, the SIPRI report estimated that Israel possesses between 80 and 90 nuclear weapons, an increase over previous years.

The SIPRI report described Israel’s nuclear arsenal as follows: 30 gravity bombs capable of delivering nuclear weapons by fighter jets; an additional 50 warheads that can be delivered by land-based ballistic missiles; and an unknown number of nuclear-armed, sea-launched cruise missiles that would grant Israel a sea-based second-strike capability.

During a speech last August in front of the Dimona nuclear reactor in the Negev Desert, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened to use nuclear weapons to “wipe out” Israel’s enemies. More recently, Netanyahu and his allies in the U.S. accused Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, despite the fact that intelligence agencies of both the U.S. and Israel have long recognized that Iran has no such program.

India and Pakistan

Nuclear rivals India and Pakistan, which have 130 to 140 and 150 to 160 nuclear warheads respectively, are increasing the size of their arsenals while also developing new systems.

“India and Pakistan are expanding their military fissile material production capabilities on a scale that may lead to significant increases in the size of their nuclear weapon inventories over the next decade,” said Shannon Kile, director of the SIPRI Nuclear Arms Control Program.

It may be recalled, the Congressional Research Service’s May 15 2009 report to US lawmaker said that Pakistan’s nuclear energy program dates back to the 1950s “but it was the loss of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in a bloody war with India that probably triggered a political decision in January 1972 (just one month later) to begin a secret nuclear weapons program.”

“The origins of the Pakistani nuclear program lies in the deep national humiliation of the 1971 war with India that led to the partition of the country, the independence of Bangladesh and the destruction of the dream of a single Muslim state for all of south Asia’s Muslim population.”

On the other hand, White House insider Bruce Riedel, who co-authored the Obama administration’s Af-Pak policy, offered the following sequence in a op-ed, broadly concurring with the CRS report:

“The new prime minister of those times, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, secretly convened the country’s top 50 scientists in January 1972 and challenged them to build a bomb. He famously said that Pakistanis would sacrifice everything and “eat grass” to get a nuclear deterrent. The 1974 Indian nuclear test helped Pakistan to tell the world that this is the cause of their nuclear bomb. Starting in 1972, Pakistan came up with its own nuclear bomb in 1998 with the slight help of China, just a few days after India’s second nuclear test.”

The CRS Report further added, “Mr. Bhutto received an unsolicited letter from a Pakistani scientist who had studied in Louvain, Belgium, Abdul Qadeer Khan, offering to help by illegally acquiring sensitive centrifuge technology from his new employers at a nuclear facility in the Netherlands. Over the next few years—with the assistance of the Pakistani intelligence service, the Inter Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI)—Mr. Khan would acquire the key technology to help Pakistan produce fissionable material to make a bomb.”

Both the CRS report and Riedel pointed out to the help which China gave to Pakistan in its nuclear weapons quest, a subject successive US administrations are leery of broaching for fear of angering Beijing. “Islamabad gained technology from many illegal sources,” says the CRS report, adding, “This extensive assistance is reported to have included, among other things, uranium enrichment technology from Europe (stolen by Khan, according to Riedel), blueprints for a small nuclear weapon from China, and missile technology from China and North Korea.”

India plans a covert military attack on a Pakistani nuclear reactor

In their book, Deception: Pakistan, the United States and the Global Nuclear Conspiracy, Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark claim that Indian military officials secretly travelled to Israel in February 1983 to buy electronic warfare equipment to neutralize Kahuta’s air defences. Israel reportedly also provided India with technical details of the F-16 aircraft in exchange for Indians providing them some details about the MiG-23 aircraft. In mid- to late-1983, according to strategic affairs expert Bharat Karnad, Indira Gandhi asked the IAF once again to plan for an air strike on Kahuta.

The mission was cancelled after Pakistani nuclear scientist Munir Ahmed Khan met Indian Atomic Energy Commission chief-designate Raja Ramanna at an international meet in Vienna and threatened a retaliatory strike on Bhabha Atomic Research Centre at Trombay, according to Sushant Singh of Indian Express who also wrote in October 2015:

The next time India is believed to have seriously considered attacking Kahuta was in September-October 1984. It has also been rumored that Israeli air force was part of the plans to attack Kahuta in 1984 because it did not want to see an “Islamic Bomb” developed by Pakistan. Israel was supposed to lead this attack and not merely play the role of advising the IAF. Bharat Karnad has written that Israeli aircraft were to be staged from Jamnagar airfield in Gujarat, refuel at a satellite airfield in North India and track the Himalayas to avoid early radar detection, but Indira Gandhi eventually vetoed the idea. Levy and Scott-Clark though claim that Indira Gandhi had signed off on the Israeli-led operation in March 1984 but backed off after the US state department warned India “the US will be responsive if India persists”.

Earlier inn January 2015, India Times reported:  “In 1981, India planned to bomb Pakistan’s nuclear plant at Kahuta, inspired by Israeli attack on under-construction Iraqi nuclear reactors, the India Times reported on January 25, 2017.”

According tothe India Times about 930,000 declassified documents posted online by the CIA provide interesting insights into India’s increasing concerns over Pakistan’s nuclear program in the early 80s. One such set of documents pointed out how India had planned to bomb Pakistan’s nuclear plant at Kahuta. This was a covert operation planned by India that was shelved after international pressure.

The India Times also said:

“Secret documents revealed that the US Ambassador to Pakistan handed over a letter by President Ronald Reagan to General Zia-ul Haq which warned Pakistan about a possible Indian military attack on the Pakistan’s nuclear reactor at Kahuta.

“An article in Washington Post in 1982 revealed Indira Gandhi was advised by the Indian military to target the Pakistani nuclear plant.

“Israel, according to reports, wanted to use Gujarat’s Jamnagar base to launch its jets and another base for refuelling. In March 1984, Indira okayed the operation, bringing India, Pakistan and Israel within striking distance of a nuclear conflict. But Gandhi backed off after the Regan administration warned of action, say reports.”

2019 report  about India-Israel joint plan to target Pakistani nuclear facilities

More recently, Daily Pakistan Global reported on March 4, 2019, Pakistan has disclosed a joint plan by India and Israel to target its nuclear facilities ostensibly on the pretext of anti-terror war in the wake of Pulwama attack.

The daily reported that as tension between Pakistan and India lingers on, official reports by the government of Pakistan confirm that India and Israel were ready for a joint attack against Pakistan, however, the threat of retaliation and active vigilance staved off the strike a few days ago.

Multiple journalists in Pakistan, while quoting official sources and meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan have revealed that the joint plan was thwarted due to the contact between the spy agencies of the South-Asian countries and threat of retaliation by the armed forces of Pakistan. “High-level sources have informed us that there was a plan to attack 7-8 places in Pakistan from a base in Rajasthan, India. Pakistan had learnt that Israel was helping India in this plan and this was a joint plan of these countries,” the Daily Pakistan Global quoted a veteran journalist as saying.

Interestingly Shimon Arad, a retired Israeli colonel, wrote on National Interest website in February 2018, ‘How Israel and Pakistan Can Avoid a Nuclear Showdown?’ He said:

“The advancement of Pakistan’s nuclear-missile capabilities and Israel’s growing military ties with India are increasing their respective military relevance for each other. In the absence of formal diplomatic relations and against the backdrop of a prevailing antagonistic public dialogue, the need for an effective and discreet channel of communication between Islamabad and Jerusalem to mitigate misunderstandings and misperceptions about each other’s intentions is growing.

Col. Arad  recalled that a website called “AWD News” claimed that Israel’s defense minister had threatened to destroy Pakistan with a nuclear attack if it sent ground troops to Syria on any pretext. Although clearly fake (the website misidentified the Israeli defense minister as Moshe Ya’alon, who resigned in the previous May), Pakistan’s defense minister hastily tweeted a nuclear threat and warned Israel that “Pakistan is a nuclear state too.”

Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America (www.journalofamerica.net) email: asghazali2011 (@) gmail.com

The Asian Nuclear Horns Increase (Daniel 8:8)

Pakistan, China increase nuclear weapons, India maintains status quo

Zee Media Bureau Jun 17, 2019, 08:46 AM IST,

While six countries have either reduced or maintained the same number of nuclear weapons in their arsenal in the beginning of 2019 compared to 2018, four countries – China, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea – have increased the number of bombs. 

Pakistan and China continue to produce nuclear weapons and have increased their stockpile in the last one year even as India has maintained the same number in its arsenal as it had in the beginning of 2018. While Pakistan has approximately 150-160 nuclear weapons in its arsenal, China boasts of 290 with India having just 130-140 bombs, according to The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Yearbook 2019 released on Monday.

China possessed 280 nuclear bombs in the beginning of 2019 but has now increased it to 290. Similarly, Pakistan’s stockpile has gone up from 140-150 to 150-160, Israel 80 to 80-90 and North Korea has doubled its arsenal from 10-20 to 20-30.

On the other hand, India has 130-140 nuclear bombs, the same number that it had at the start of 2018.

“China, India and Pakistan are increasing the size of their nuclear arsenals. ‘India and Pakistan are expanding their military fissile material production capabilities on a scale that may lead to significant increases in the size of their nuclear weapon inventories over the next decade,” says Shannon Kile, Director of SIPRI’s Nuclear Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation Programme.

But The SIPRI Yearbook 2019 claims that the number of nuclear weapons in the beginning of 2019 has actually decreased from 2018. Nine countries – the United States of America, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) – have approximately 13,865 nuclear weapons, which is a decrease of 600 from the number of bombs (14,465) at the start of 2018.

“The decrease in the overall number of nuclear weapons in the world is due mainly to Russia and the USA – which together still account for over 90 per cent of all nuclear weapons – further reducing their strategic nuclear forces pursuant to the implementation of the 2010 Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START) while also making unilateral reductions. In 2018, Russia and the USA announced that they had achieved the final New START force reduction limits by the specified deadline,” the report states.

Country Deployed warheads* Other warheads** Total 2019 Total 2018
USA 1 750 4 435 6 185 6 450
Russia 1 600 4 900 6 500 6 850
UK 120 80 200 215
France 280 20 300 300
China 290 290 280
India 130–140 130–140 130–140
Pakistan 150–160 150–160 140–150
Israel 80-90 80–90 80
North Korea .. .. (20–30) (10–20)
Total 3 750 10 115 13 865 14 465

Source: SIPRI Yearbook 2019
* ‘Deployed warheads’ refers to warheads placed on missiles or located on bases with operational forces.
** ‘Other warheads’ refers to stored or reserve warheads and retired warheads awaiting dismantlement. 

While six countries have either reduced or maintained the same number of nuclear weapons in their arsenal in the beginning of 2019 compared to 2018, four countries – China, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea – have increased the number of bombs.

A total of 3,750 nuclear weapons out of the13,865 bombs are deployed with operational forces and almost 2,000 are in a state of high operational alert.

New START will expire in 2021 unless both parties agree to extend it. There are currently no discussions about extending New START or negotiating a follow-on treaty. ‘The prospects for a continuing negotiated reduction of Russian and US nuclear forces appears increasingly unlikely given the political and military differences between the two countries,’ says Shannon Kile, Director of SIPRI’s Nuclear Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation Programme.

Both Russia and the USA have extensive and expensive programmes underway to replace and modernize their nuclear warheads, missile and aircraft delivery systems, and nuclear weapon production facilities. In 2018, the US Department of Defense set out plans to develop new nuclear weapons and modify others to give them expanded military roles and missions.

Babylon the Great’s Vulnerable Nuclear Triad (Part 2)

America’s Vulnerable Nuclear Triad (Part 2)

Part 1 of this article warns U.S. strategic bombers and ICBMs could be destroyed by surprise attack, leaving 4-5 U.S. ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) on daily patrol at sea as the only U.S. nuclear Triad survivors for deterrence.

However, even SSBNs may now be vulnerable.

Anti-Ship Ballistic Missiles (ASBMs) are a new technology combining ballistic missiles with maneuvering warheads having electro-optical seekers to precisely target even moving vessels for destruction. China’s DF-26 and DF-21 pose long-range threats to U.S. aircraft carriers, outranging carrier aircraft, threatening to upset the balance of power in the Pacific.

Even Iran has developed ASBMs, the medium-range Khalij Fars (Persian Gulf) and short-range Fateh-110, that have been used successfully to target a ship, demonstrating an accuracy of 8 meters.

Nuclear-armed ASBMs could destroy submarines, even if the SSBN location is not known precisely. An underwater nuclear shockwave has a very large lethal radius, extending many kilometers against SSBNs.

ICBMs too could be used to destroy SSBNs with a nuclear barrage of their ocean patrol areas.

President Reagan’s White House Science Advisor, George Keyworth, in a 1984 TV interview warned: “A…warhead such as the SS-18 carries ten of, when dropped in the water…will destroy any submarine within a distance of about seven miles.” According to Keyworth, if the Soviets could roughly locate U.S. submarines, “find out approximately where they are, not track them the way we did in the Second World War, but just know approximately if they are in that 100-mile by 100-mile square…then they can be destroyed in a preemptive attack.” (George Keyworth, “Firing Line: The High Frontier Concept” PBS transcript June 22, 1984, p. 10)

My book “Nuclear Wars: Exchanges and Outcomes” (1990) calculated that Moscow, using only their SS-19 ICBMs, could destroy all U.S. SSBNs, if their at-sea locations are very roughly known, at a time when the U.S. had 36 SSBNs (not as today 14 reducing to 12 SSBNs). My calculations indicated our submarines will be most vulnerable if their locations are disclosed by launching even one missile for a limited nuclear strike — as is now planned for tactical nuclear scenarios employing the W76-2.

My report “POSEIDON: Russia’s New Doomsday Machine” (2018) warns this new Russian nuclear autonomous “torpedo” may be a secret weapon to destroy U.S., British, and French SSBNs.

Poseidon is a nuclear-powered robot submarine or torpedo, armed with a nuclear warhead described by various Russian sources as ranging from 2-200 megatons, the later by far the most powerful nuclear weapon ever built. The yield may be mission selectable.

Moscow advertises Poseidon’s mission as a doomsday machine, designed to raise radioactive tsunamis to inundate the U.S. coasts, or to destroy U.S. ports, or to trail and destroy U.S. aircraft carrier groups. None of these missions makes sense for Poseidon, as Russia can already accomplish all of them by other existing means.

The one mission making the most sense for Poseidon, not mentioned by Russia, is trailing and destroying at-sea SSBNs. Nuclear-powered, Poseidon could tail SSBNs for months or years, waiting outside ports for their target to resume patrols. Artificially Intelligent, Poseidon could be programmed to recognize the acoustic signature of its target submarine, and detonate on command.

The lethal radius of a 100-megaton warhead against submarines is over 100 kilometers.

Russia plans to deploy 32 Poseidons. Perhaps not coincidentally, enough to assign two to tail each of 12 U.S. Columbia SSBNs and 8 Poseidons to target the 8 SSBNs of allies Britain and France.

Super-EMP weapons deployed by Russia, China, and probably North Korea can generate 100-200 kilovolts/meter, far exceeding the U.S. military standard for EMP hardening. Thus, across North America, even best protected U.S. military forces — including the strategic Triad and C3I — could be paralyzed.

U.S. SSBNs at sea cannot launch without receiving an Emergency Action Message (EAM) from the president. The EAM includes an unblocking code to arm nuclear warheads. Thus, submarines cannot execute nuclear strikes without the EAM.

A Super-EMP attack could destroy satellites, land-based VLF communications, TACAMO aircraft, and other redundant means to convey EAMs to submarines on patrol, neutralizing them.


Do not deploy W76-2 warheads on U.S. ballistic missile submarines or otherwise degrade SSBN capability to survive and deter attacks on American cities.

Deploy at least 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons to reduce Russia’s preponderant advantage. Nuclearize the U.S. Navy by proliferating preferably nuclear-armed cruise missiles on attack submarines, guided missile cruisers, destroyers, and other vessels that can operate in forward areas to maximize survivability, accuracy, and time-on-target for tactical situations.

To reduce escalatory possibilities, as during the Cold War, U.S. strategic and tactical nuclear platforms should not mix capabilities and missions, but be distinct as possible.

A crash program to develop advanced new generation nuclear weapons should begin immediately.

A crash program to deploy space-based missile defenses that could initially defend U.S. SSBNs and other Triad assets, eventually shield U.S. and allied homelands and possibly render nuclear missiles obsolete, should begin immediately.

A highest-priority crash program to harden U.S. military and civilian critical infrastructures from EMP and cyber-attack should begin immediately. The potential of Russia, China, and even North Korea to possibly paralyze the U.S. Triad, including SSBNs on patrol, with an EMP “cheap shot” invites aggression.

Dr. Peter Vincent Pry is executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security. He served on the Congressional EMP Commission as chief of staff, the Congressional Strategic Posture Commission, the House Armed Services Committee, and the CIA. He is author of “Blackout Wars.” For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

Babylon the Great’s Vulnerable Nuclear Triad

America’s Vulnerable Nuclear Triad

The most survivable leg of the U.S. strategic nuclear Triad of bombers, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) are the submarines. Ballistic missile submarines are the last best line of deterrence and defense to defeat surprise nuclear attack.

Today, U.S. strategic bombers and ICBMs have never been more vulnerable to surprise attack.

U.S. strategic bomber bases are reduced from 45 during the Cold War to just 3 today. Unlike Cold War readiness, today no U.S. strategic bombers are nuclear-armed on strip alert, ready to fly on short-warning.

Even North Korea could destroy all U.S. B-52 and B-2 bombers by surprise nuclear attack on their three bases at Minot AFB (North Dakota), Whiteman AFB (Missouri), and Barksdale AFB (Louisiana).

U.S. ICBMs are reduced from about 1,000 during the Cold War armed with about 2,000 warheads, to 400 ICBMs with 400 warheads today.

Russia’s SS-18 ICBM, armed with 10 warheads, or China’s DF-5 ICBM, also 10 warheads, could with just 50 missiles deliver 500 warheads having yield/accuracy combinations capable of a disarming surprise first strike destroying:

— All U.S. strategic command centers, like NORAD HQ at Peterson AFB and NORAD’s Alternate HQ inside Cheyenne Mountain;

— All U.S. strategic bombers;

— All U.S. ICBMs;

— Two-thirds of U.S. SSBNs (9-10 submarines) normally anchored at King’s Bay, Georgia and Bangor, Washington.

Thus, the chief U.S. deterrent against surprise nuclear attack are 4-5 U.S. SSBNs normally on patrol at sea, from a total fleet numbering 14 ballistic missile submarines (reduced from 35-45 Cold War SSBNs). Today’s 14 Ohio-class SSBNs will be replaced beginning in 2031 with a smaller new fleet numbering 12 Columbia-class SSBNs, slightly reducing submarines sustainable on daily patrol from 4-5 boats to 4 boats.

Anything that threatens survivability of U.S. submarines on patrol at sea would fundamentally undermine U.S. nuclear deterrent credibility and could invite surprise nuclear attack.

Old fashioned spy-craft and new-fashioned cyber-espionage could pose a mortal threat to U.S. submarines — as spying did during the Cold War.

Cold War Soviet agent John Walker and his spy ring, for example, had access to information disclosing positions of U.S. submarines that he provided to the USSR.

Soviet KGB officer Vitaly Yurchenko had Walker in mind when, describing how the KGB scored against the U.S. Navy, he remarked: “We deciphered millions of your messages. If there had been a war, we would have won.” (See John Barron’s excellent book “Breaking the Ring: The Bizarre Case of the Walker Family Spy Ring” for quotes from Yurchenko, Lehman, Studeman, Carver and more.)

U.S. Navy Secretary, John Lehman, shared Yurchenko’s opinion of damage done by the Walker spy ring: “Had we been engaged in any conflict with the Soviets, it could have had the devastating consequences that Ultra had for the Germans.”

Then CIA Director, Admiral William Studeman, said Walker ring betrayal of U.S. Navy secrets created “powerful war winning implications for the Soviets” and “jeopardized the backbone of this country’s national defense.”

Then-CIA Deputy Director, George Carver, who spent much of his 24-year career working cryptography and communications, believed Moscow could continue exploiting the Walker data “for years and even decades.”

Carver: “The United States…can never be positive that it has locked all the barn doors…cannot be totally confident about the security of its communications, particularly its military and especially naval communications. And the damage thus done…could significantly, if not irrevocably, tilt the very strategic balance on which our survival as a nation depends.”

Whether and to what extent Russia and China can find U.S. SSBNs is unknown. Maybe they are completely in the dark. Or maybe their spies know the location of every U.S. submarine.

During the Cold War and today, Moscow for decades spent vast resources on an enormous array of technologies, including satellites like EORSAT, trying to locate U.S. submarines hiding at sea.

Today, Russia and China have hydroacoustic capabilities for locating SSBNs far more technologically sophisticated than those available to the USSR during the Cold War.

Cold War defense analyst Roger Speed, then a consultant to the U.S. Navy, calculated Soviet ships sweeping the oceans with towed hydrophone arrays could locate U.S. SSBNs for destruction in two days. According to Speed’s book “Strategic Deterrence in the 1980s”:

“The development of a line array of hydrophones that can be towed through the water represents a potential breakthrough in acoustic ASW technology….this new technology could pose a serious threat to SSBNs. If the detection range is…at least 50 nm, the SSBN patrol area can be searched in two days or less.”

Modern technology is making possible miracles, such as rendering transparent the jungles of Guatemala. LiDAR (Light Detection And Range) in 2018 used airborne laser technology to penetrate Guatemala’s thick jungle canopy, discovering 60,000 previously unknown Mayan ruins, including hundreds of previously hidden Mayan cities and towns, revolutionizing archaeology and re-classifying the Maya as among the greatest civilizations.

LiDAR’s revolution in surveillance technology is the product of collaboration between private sector Teledyne Optic Titan and the University of Houston — not great power nation states.

We should not rule out the possibility Russia and China have achieved a technological breakthrough in locating submarines — which they would keep secret until wartime.

If submarines can be found, they can be destroyed.


Dr. Peter Vincent Pry is executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security. He served on the Congressional EMP Commission as chief of staff, the Congressional Strategic Posture Commission, the House Armed Services Committee, and the CIA. He is author of “Blackout Wars.” For more of his reports,

China Expands Her Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

U.S. Expects China to Quickly Double Its Nuclear Stockpile | Time

W.J. Hennigan
John Walcott
The Baker test during Operation Crossroads, a series of two nuclear weapons tests conducted by the United States at Bikini Atoll. 25th July 1946.Galerie Bilderwelt / Getty Images
China is expected to increase its nuclear weapons stockpile by twofold in the coming decade, according to a new U.S. military intelligence assessment, part of a sweeping build-up of Beijing’s strategic arsenal.

“Over the next decade, China is likely to at least double the size of its nuclear stockpile in the course of implementing the most rapid expansion and diversification of its nuclear arsenal in China’s history,” Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, the director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency said during a speech on Wednesday.

Speaking at the Hudson Institute in Washington, Ashley also accused both China and Russia of covertly testing low-yield nuclear weapons in violation of a 23-year old international treaty. The allegation came less than three months before the expected end of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forcesagreement with Russia; and two years from the expiration of the landmark New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START.

In response to the slow erosion of agreements, President Donald Trump has declared his desire to reach a post-Cold War détente with both China and Russia under an all-encompassing arms treaty. Yet that petition has been met by disinterest in Beijing and indifference in Moscow.

The grand bargain approach, critics say, is too time-consuming and unlikely to garner results within the remaining 19 months in Trump’s term. More likely, they say, it’s a stalling tactic for national security hawks in the Administration, such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, who are known to be hostile toward international agreements.

“Pursuit of broader nuclear arms control deal with Russia and China is a worthwhile objective — but not at the expense of, or as a condition for, the extension of New START,” said Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association, a think tank. “So far the Trump Administration does not appear to have a plan or the capacity to negotiate a more far-reaching deal, which would likely take years. Which suggests that the real goal of this gambit is to run out the clock on New START.”

If New START sunsets, it will be the first time in the effort to limit the strategic stockpiles in the U.S. and Russia since 1972. The linchpin agreement limits each side to 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed heavy bombers and ballistic missiles. It also includes a thorough monitoring and verification regime to help ensure compliance.

Tim Morrison, a senior director at the National Security Council, said New START’s expiration is more than a year away, which presents the Administration with more than enough time to try to secure that agreement. Trump has aspirations beyond a bilateral deal, he said.

“What we need to focus on is the comprehensive nuclear threat,” Morrison said at the Hudson Institute, after Ashley’s speech. “The higher priority is the totality of the Russian and Chinese programs, because we have so much time left on the clock for New START.”

Russia and the U.S. are capped at 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads until Feb. 5, 2021, when New START expires. After that, there will be no limits. China, however, only has an arsenal of an estimated 290 strategic weapons. So even if Beijing doubles its stockpile, as U.S. intelligence assesses, it will represent a fraction of those belonging to Washington and Moscow.

What has drawn U.S. officials’ attention is China’s arsenal of hundreds of smaller nuclear warheads, known as tactical nuclear weapons. These weapons are designed for use on the battlefield as opposed to strategic weapons, which are designed to destroy cities and hardened military targets. Numbers of those weapons are not capped under international treaty.

The Chinese military, headlong into a complete modernization of its forces, is nearly ready to field a so-called nuclear “triad”capable launching an attack from land, air, and sea — a capability Russia and the U.S. have had for decades. The Trump team points to this nuclear expansion as proof of China’s emergence on the world stage as a great power and why it must be included in future arms control conversations.

Analysts say China is more preoccupied with establishing regional preeminence in the Pacific. “It’s true that China has steadily expanded its nuclear forces,” said Hans Kristensen, a nuclear weapons expert at the Federation of American Scientists. “But their main goal is to deter regional powers, such as India and Russia.”

Meanwhile, Russia has about 2,000 tactical nukes in its arsenal. These include air-to-surface missiles, short-range ballistic missiles, air-dropped bombs, depth charges and torpedoes for surface ships and submarines, according to U.S. military assessments.

“We assess its overall nuclear stockpile is likely to grow significantly over the next decade,” Ashley said on Wednesday. “Russia’s stockpile of non-strategic nuclear weapons — already large and diverse — is being modernized with an eye towards greater accuracy, longer ranges, and lower yields to suit their potential warfighting role.”

The U.S. assesses that Russia has dozens of these systems already deployed or in development. One of the weapons, the Novator 9M729, was in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which led to its probable dissolution. First signed by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev in December 1987, the INF treaty eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons. It forced the superpowers to scrap more than 2,600 land-based missiles with ranges 310 to 3,420 miles — weapons considered destabilizing to the European continent because of their capability to launch a nuclear strike from anywhere without early warning.

Many U.S. military officials have viewed the United States’ adherence to the INF as a disadvantage with China, considering the country is not currently party to the INF. Beijing has more than 1,000 land-based missiles within INF range that could threaten U.S. and allies’ bases in the western Pacific and warships.

Ashley provided no proof for his claims that Russia and China likely violated the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which bans test explosions of nuclear weapons, known as a “zero-yield standard.” Nor did he indicate what further actions might be taken as a result of the violation.

A senior U.S. intelligence official said after Ashley’s speech that there is no consensus in the intelligence community that Russia has conducted a low-yield test, only that it is assembling the facilities that would be necessary to do so. The official said the Defense Intelligence Agency generally takes the “worst case” position on military matters, as it did on the question of whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

However, said a second intelligence official, also speaking on the condition of anonymity because the remarks were not cleared for public release, the preparations for a possible test — which would be difficult to detect conclusively at a very low yield — fits a pattern of Russian arms treaty violations that began with the 2017 installation of medium-range cruise missiles in violation of the INF Treaty.

“There is concern in some quarters that Russia may be testing how the Administration responds to low-level treaty violations, especially given that it has abandoned a number of international agreements like the TPP, NAFTA and the Paris (climate) accord,” the official said.

The U.S. hasn’t tested a nuke since 1992, when then President George H.W. Bush declared a self-imposed testing moratorium. Four years later, the U.S. became the first of 184 nations to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. However, Congress never ratified it.


China’s Great Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

Visitors walk past China’s second nuclear missile on display as they visit the Military Museum in Beijing / Getty

China’s Great Nuclear Wall

Aaron Kliegman

When it comes to nuclear arms control, China is great at playing hard to get. Beijing is the elusive beauty, a difficult but attractive target for those who seek nuclear disarmament. Powerful yet mysterious, shrouding its nuclear program in a haze of opacity, the Chinese government never actually gives its pursuers what they want. And China knows that only makes them more interested. Indeed, Beijing leads on its suitors with seductive promises of reducing its arsenal of nuclear weapons, only to demand more in return from other states before taking any steps. And then the cycle begins anew, with no fewer nuclear weapons in China.

To illustrate the point, go back to June 1982, when the United Nations General Assembly held a second special session on disarmament. At the gathering, the late Huang Hua, then China’s foreign minister, presented a concrete proposal: if the United States and the Soviet Union halted the testing, improving, or manufacturing of nuclear weapons and reduced their arsenals by 50 percent, the Chinese government would be ready “to join all other nuclear states in undertaking to stop the development and production of nuclear weapons, and to further reduce and ultimately destroy them altogether.” Just six years later, however, as the United States and the Soviet Union were drafting the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START I, which significantly reduced each country’s nuclear arsenal, China changed its standard for joining arms-control talks. The 50-percent threshold was just a start; Moscow and Washington also had to make further “drastic reductions” in their arsenals. Then, in 1995, after Moscow and Washington signed START I and START II, Beijing changed its standard yet again. China would not, according to nuclear expert Brad Roberts, consider disarmament until the Americans and Russians “reduced their arsenals far beyond START II numbers, abandoned tactical nuclear weapons, abandoned ballistic missile defense, and agreed to joint no-first-use pledge,” under which they would vow never to be the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict. No matter the circumstance, China was simply not interested in nuclear arms control.

This trend continued throughout the 1990s and into the 21st century, with the United States continuously trying—and failing—to foster dialogue with China over nuclear weapons. China has also refused to be transparent about its nuclear capabilities, seeing opacity as key to Chinese deterrence. If the United States is unsure of what China can and cannot do, China’s thinking goes, then Washington will be much more wary of taking aggressive actions against Beijing. Here the Obama and Trump administrations have at least one thing in common: recognizing China’s lack of transparency in the nuclear realm as problematic. The Obama administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, or NPR, states that “the lack of transparency surrounding [Chinese] nuclear programs—their pace and scope, as well as the strategy and doctrine that guides them—raises questions about China’s future strategic intentions.” The Trump administration’s NPR echoes the same point, arguing that, “while China’s declaratory policy and doctrine have not changed, its lack of transparency regarding the scope and scale of its nuclear modernization program raises questions regarding its future intent.” China has, in effect, built a different kind of great wall around its nuclear arsenal, preventing others from even discussing what is behind it.

So it should not be surprising that, this week, China quickly dismissed a suggestion that it would talk with the United States and Russia about a new deal limiting nuclear arms. “China opposes any country talking out of turn about China on the issue of arms control, and will not take part in any trilateral negotiations on a nuclear disarmament agreement,” Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said Monday. “[China’s] nuclear force is always kept at the minimum level required by national security, with an order-of-magnitude difference from that of the United States and Russia, which puts things in a completely different light.” The spokesman added—and this may sound familiar—that “the pressing task at present” is for the United States and Russia, which have the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals, “to adhere to the consensus reached by the international community to earnestly fulfill their special and primary responsibilities in nuclear disarmament.” Only then, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, will other countries be able to participate in nuclear disarmament. China’s response came days after news reports said that President Trump ordered his administration to prepare to push new arms-control agreements with both China and Russia.

In the United States, when pundits and politicians discuss nuclear weapons, they tend to focus exclusively on Russia. Watch a congressional hearing on nuclear policy and see what percentage of the questions is about Russia, and what percentage is about China. In some ways, it makes sense why the difference is so large: China has about 280 nuclear warheads, while Russia has, under the New START Treaty, 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear warheads (in addition to thousands more stored and retired). Moreover, China advertises its nuclear strategy as one of “minimal deterrence,” while Russian President Vladimir Putin regularly touts his country’s nuclear strength with belligerent statements.

Another reason why observers too often ignore China is because of the legacy of the Cold War, which for so many Americans puts Russia at the forefront of any discussion concerning nuclear weapons. Yet America’s extensive history with Russia’s arsenal is precisely why Washington should be so concerned about China. At least the United States has a well-established line of communication with Russia regarding nuclear weapons going back decades. And they negotiated an arms-control agreement as recently as 2010. Each side understands the other pretty well, and if there ever is a nuclear crisis between the two countries, there is a wealth of experience that leaders can use to help navigate through the situation. When it comes to China, however, there is no such experience, nor any line of communication. In a Sino-American nuclear crisis, no one would have a “number to call” the other side. China’s unwillingness to engage on this issue in any meaningful way makes the prospect of reaching a resolution that much more of an unknown. The United States has no idea how China would react. At least it has some idea of how to deal with Russia.

Realistically, the prospects of the United States, or any country, making progress with China on arms control are remote—although such efforts are still worthwhile. Still, the United States should be very concerned about the Chinese arsenal. China may have fewer nuclear weapons and a seemingly less aggressive nuclear strategy, but that shows, perhaps counter intuitively, why China is a more dangerous adversary than Russia. China is smarter and more patient, looking to the long term. Beijing sees Chinese power on the rise and American power on the decline. There is no need to sound belligerent and risk conflict like the Russians. China can build up its economic and military might without provoking so much international condemnation. And then one day, when no one is ready, it may decide the time is right to seize Taiwan.

Over the long term, China sees itself supplanting the United States as the dominant power in East Asia and, eventually, in the world. Russia, meanwhile, is a fundamentally weak country with lots of nuclear weapons. Putin is certainly dangerous, but he lashes out in part because of that weakness—his country is on the path toward economic irrelevance, along with a demographic nightmare. In other words, China is the more mature adversary, the quiet yet observant mastermind plotting its grand scheme rather than the loud, obnoxious goon drunkenly challenging everyone to a fight.

The late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping once outlined the following strategy for China: “Observe calmly; secure our position; cope with affairs calmly; hide our capacities; bide our time; be good at maintaining a low profile; never claim leadership.” Today, many observers argue that Chinese President Xi Jinping has gone away from that model, and that is true to some extent. But China is still patiently biding its time, working to supplant the United States with a sophisticated strategy that involves all aspects of state power, from development to military modernization. That strategy includes maintaining a potent nuclear arsenal, which China hopes to use to get others to disarm, without having to do so itself.

The Chinese Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7:7)

Z7 (1)Why You Should Fear China’s Nuclear Weapons
It is all about deterrence.

by Mark B. Schneider

In 2006, China said that it was “progressively improving its force structure” of both nuclear and conventional missiles. This is exactly what has happened. This expansion of Chinese nuclear capability has occurred despite the fact that the U.S. drastically reduced its nuclear capabilities after 2001. China’s nuclear buildup must be viewed in the context of the largest and longest sustained military buildup in the post-Cold War world. What is very significant is that China began its military buildup after threats to China largely evaporated at the end of the Cold War.

China is extremely secretive about its nuclear forces. In 1982, Mao’s successor, Deng Xiaoping, said that China should “…hide our capabilities and bide our time.” This may be a good description of Chinese policy when it comes to revealing its nuclear capability. Its objective would appear to be to hide its capabilities to achieve strategic surprise and minimize the risk of a U.S. response to its nuclear buildup. However, it is noteworthy that the Chinese state media and, to some extent, the Chinese government have been more open in revealing China’s nuclear capability for its non-strategic systems.

Despite Chinese secrecy, what is known is troubling. Chinese nuclear expansion must be viewed against the backdrop of Chinese territorial expansion in the South and East China Seas and the overall growth of Chinese military capability. The Chinese government promotes strong nationalism and communist ideology is still prevalent in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

According to the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, “China, too, is modernizing and expanding its already considerable nuclear forces. Like Russia, China is pursuing entirely new nuclear capabilities tailored to achieve particular national security objectives while also modernizing its conventional military, challenging traditional U.S. military superiority in the Western Pacific.” Furthermore, the report says China, like Russia, has added: “…new types of nuclear capabilities to their arsenals, increased the salience of nuclear forces in their strategies and plans, and engaged in increasingly aggressive behavior, including in outer space and cyberspace.”
A 2017 National Institute for Public Policy (NIPP) report points out, “The Obama Administration estimated that China has several hundred nuclear weapons, but other estimates place the number much higher.”[6] The high estimates go up to several thousand. Irrespective of what the current number is, there are indications of a major force expansion. The NIPP report further noted, “The extensive length of China’s ‘Underground Great Wall’ (which the Chinese say is 5,000 km of deep tunnels), suggests that a larger force of nuclear-armed ICBMs may be planned.” In addition to protecting mobile ICBMs, these tunnels provide a place to hide them. The implication of this extensive network of deep tunnels for U.S. nuclear weapons requirements has been largely ignored. While the Obama Administration stated we needed “significant” counterforce capability, its subsequent programmatic decisions went in the opposite direction. Some of this has been changed by the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, but some of it has not. Thus, the U.S.’ ability to target these tunnels is limited because we have inadequate capability to destroy hard and deeply buried targets and it is actually declining.

According to the 2019 Defense Intelligence Agency report on “China Military Power”, “China is developing a new generation of mobile missiles, with warheads consisting of multi­ple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs) and penetration aids…” Over the last decade, China has developed and deployed new nuclear DF-31 and the DF-31A mobile ICBMs, a MIRVed version of their DF-5 silo-based ICBM, the type 094 ballistic missile submarines carrying JL-2 SLBMs and H-6J cruise missile-carrying bombers. The reported range of the H-6J, 8,000-km, would make it a heavy bomber under the New START Treaty range definition. Additionally, the Chinese J-20 air-launched cruise missile is nuclear capable. Indeed, in December 2013, a story in the Chinese state media talked about China’s H-6K bombers launching nuclear-armed cruise missiles against U.S. bases in South Korea and Japan.

China has displayed its new reportedly MIRVed, DF-31AC a road-mobile solid-fuel ICBM at a military parade. Chinese state media also recently indicated that the large mobile heavily MIRVed DF-41 mobile ICBM is operational. The state-run Global Times wrote that it would give China “respect.” The DF-41 is generally reported to carry 10 nuclear warheads. Moreover, China has said it is developing a new nuclear-capable bomber, reportedly a stealth design.

The 2017 Pentagon report on Chinese military power says that in the early 2020s China will likely begin the construction of new type 096 submarines which reportedly will carry the new JL-3 SLBM. There are reports that the JL-3 will be MIRVed. A 2017 unclassified DIA report indicates China is now deploying “two, new air-launched ballistic missiles, one of which may include a nuclear payload.”

China’s Theater Nuclear Capability

A 2017 unclassified National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) report indicated there were 33 types of Chinese battlefield rockets, theater-range ballistic and cruise missiles. Various unclassified U.S. government reports have said the DF-26 IRBM, the DF-21 medium-range missile, including the carrier killer DF-21D, the new cruise missiles, China’s hypersonic glide vehicles, and an air-launched ballistic missile are nuclear capable. According to the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review report, China’s new DF-26 is “a nuclear-capable precision guided… intermediate-range ballistic missile capable of attacking land and naval targets.” The U.S. does not have this capability.

The Taiwanese Defense Ministry has said that the DF-11 short-range ballistic missile is nuclear capable. The new short-range Chinese DF-15 ballistic missile is also reported to be nuclear capable. Russian experts credit much of China’s conventional missile force with dual capability (nuclear and conventional).

China has been testing hypersonic missiles for years. In 2018, Chinese state media claimed its hypersonic DF-17 boost-glide vehicle, with a range of 1,000-1,500 miles, can sink carriers. Initial operating capability for the DF-17 is reportedly expected in 2020. In December 2018, China reportedly tested the Starry Sky 2 Mach 6 powered hypersonic missile (it is also characterized as an aircraft, probably, inaccurately) which is reported to be nuclear capable.

Chinese Nuclear Testing and the Development of New Types of Nuclear Weapons

To modernize its nuclear forces, China continued high-yield nuclear testing through 1996. The purpose of Chinese nuclear tests in the 1990s was to “develop small, light warheads for the PRC’s new nuclear forces.” According to declassified intelligence reports, China’s nuclear tests in the 1990s were mainly involved with the development of new strategic and tactical nuclear weapons of advanced design. Significantly, Chinese officials have said China has developed new types of nuclear weapons after the end of the Cold War. Xue Bencheng, reportedly one of the most important scientists involved in the development of China’s neutron bomb, stated that the July 1996 Chinese nuclear test was “a great spanning leap” because it solved the problem of nuclear weapons miniaturization.

The House of Representatives’ Cox Committee, which extensively investigated Chinese theft of U.S. technology, concluded that, “If the PRC violates the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty by testing surreptitiously, it could further accelerate its nuclear development.” It also concluded that China “…may be testing low yield nuclear explosive devices underground at its Lop Nur test site.” In May 2006, Chinese Defense Today also reported possible “low yield nuclear tests” after the declared end of nuclear testing. Covert Chinese nuclear testing could enhance Chinese capabilities to field advanced nuclear weapons.

Writing in 2002, Russian military journalists Vyacheslav Baskakov and Aleksandr Gorshkov maintained that China “…will succeed in making the shift from its current megaton-class nuclear ordinance to a level of hundreds and tens of kilotons, thereby increasing the effectiveness of available forces and weapons, flexibility of use in various circumstances and combat situations on both a strategic and tactical level.”

Moreover, the Cox Committee report stated:

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has stolen classified information on all of the United States’ most advanced thermonuclear warheads, and several of the associated reentry vehicles…..The stolen U.S. secrets have helped the PRC fabricate and successfully test modern strategic thermonuclear weapons. The stolen information includes classified information on seven U.S. thermonuclear warheads, including every currently deployed thermonuclear warhead in the U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile arsenal. Together, these include the W-88 Trident D-5 thermonuclear warhead, and the W-56 Minuteman II, the W-62 Minuteman III, the W-70 Lance, the W-76 Trident C-4, the W-78 Minuteman III Mark 12A, and the W-87 Peacekeeper thermonuclear warheads. The stolen information also includes classified design information for an enhanced radiation weapon (commonly known as the ‘neutron bomb’)

What this means, as the Cox Committee pointed out, is that the stolen U.S. information and computer codes make it much easier for China to replicate the most advanced U.S. Cold War designs, including types that we unwisely eliminated at the end of the Cold War. This enhances the threat potential of reported covert Chinese nuclear testing.


China is expanding its nuclear capability which is what one would expect from a country that is preparing for a major war in Asia on the assumption it will have to fight the U.S. We face a very serious threat from China and its growing nuclear weapons capability is a key component. We may face a nuclear threat from China which is significantly greater than what most U.S. analysts will admit. If China plans to fight the U.S. it would be stupid to do so with an inferior nuclear force when it is now relatively easy for the Chinese to close the gap in nuclear weapons numbers and actually move ahead in the next ten years. China’s growing nuclear capability makes the confrontations that it is deliberately generating very dangerous.

Dr. Mark B. Schneider is a senior analyst at the National Institute for Public Policy and a former senior official in the Defense Department.

This article by Mark B. Schneider originally appeared at Real Clear Defense. This article first appeared in 2019.