The hypersonic China nuclear horn: Daniel 7

Video reveals Chinese H-6N bomber carrying suspected hypersonic weapon

MELBOURNE, Australia — The air-launched ballistic missile that China has reportedly been developing appears to be a hypersonic warhead boosted by a conventional rocket.

A video that surfaced over the weekend online shows a Xian H-6N bomber of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force landing at an airfield carrying a payload on the bottom of its fuselage. The footage confirms earlier analysis that this latest variant of the bomber is capable of carrying a missile semi-recessed into its fuselage.

Despite the video’s low quality, a freeze-frame analysis by Defense Newssuggests the payload is a missile with a warhead and booster section that closely resembles the ground-launched DF-17 hypersonic missile, which is believed to use the booster section from a DF-16 medium-range ballistic missile combined with a DZ-ZF hypersonic glide vehicle as its warhead.

In 2018, the U.S. Department of Defense said in its annual report on China’s military power that the Asian country was developing a nuclear-capable, air-launched ballistic missile, or ALBM, giving it the designation CH-AS-X-13. However, it is unknown if the payload seen in the video is the ALBM.

It’s also unclear how far along China is in development of the hypersonic glide vehicle, though the video would suggest that it has at least reached the captive carry stage. This involves the aircraft platform carrying a mock-up of the payload to verify and gather data about how well the aircraft and payload can handle stress in various flight regimes.

The DoD claims China has performed extensive testing on hypersonic technology and hypersonic glide vehicles since 2014. A hypersonic glide vehicle differs from a conventional ballistic missile in that the former isn’t constrained by a relatively fixed, arcing trajectory during their terminal phase, and it can maneuver while approaching a target at a flatter trajectory at very high speeds.

This makes hypersonic weapons less predictable and complicates ballistic missile defense efforts, with U.S. defense officials previously saying that China’s hypersonic technology has demonstrated a high degree of accuracy along with the ability to perform “extreme maneuvers” and take evasion action in flight.

It is unclear where the video was shot, but Rod Lee of the China Aerospace Studies Institute at the Air University on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, has geolocated the video to possibly the Neixiang Ma’ao air base in Henan Province. The resident H-6 unit at the base is the 106th Air Brigade, which the Pentagon has identified as a nuclear-capable unit.

Neixiang Ma’ao has a single, 12,000-foot runway and 20 aircraft shelters each measuring at least 45 meters (about 148 feet) wide — more than enough to accommodate the H-6N’s wingspan. The base is also undergoing substantial upgrades to its infrastructure, with open-source satellite imagery dating from May 2020 showing ongoing construction of a new, underground facility carved into a nearby hillside that has at least three new entrances and exits; one can be clearly seen measuring approximately 70 meters (230 feet) across.

A satellite image dated May 2020 shows a lineup of aircraft shelters at China's Neixiang Ma’ao air base. Each shelter is about 45 meters (148 feet) wide. The shelters were completed sometime between mid-2018 and April 2019. (Google Earth)
A satellite image dated May 2020 shows a lineup of aircraft shelters at China’s Neixiang Ma’ao air base. Each shelter is about 45 meters (148 feet) wide. The shelters were completed sometime between mid-2018 and April 2019. (Google Earth)

The H-6N is the latest variant of China’s H-6 family, which can trace its lineage back to the Soviet Tupolev Tu-16 bomber. However, China’s current fleet of H-6K bomber/cruise missile carriers have been thoroughly modernized and are fitted with newer, more powerful Russian engines and indigenous avionics. The H-6N adds an in-flight refueling capability in addition to the fuselage missile station, in lieu of a bomb bay.

Iran ready to Nuke Up

Iran, freed from UN arms embargo, likely to purchase Russian military hardware


With the expiration of a United Nations arms embargo against Iran, the country’s leaders will likely seek to purchase new military hardware from the Kremlin, analysts said Monday.

“I think Iran will prioritize the kinds of air and missile defense equipment that will enable them to defend their illegal nuclear weapons production facilities,” said Tim Morrison, a former arms control official at the White House National Security Council under President Trump.

“And there’s really only two countries that are going to be willing to sell them military equipment,” added Morrison, now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington. “And that’s Russia and China. That’s not a great position to be in, if you’re Iran.”

Still, Iran celebrated the expiration of the embargo, enacted in 2010, with one senior official hailing it as “a momentous day for the international community.” “Today’s normalization of Iran’s defense cooperation with the world is a win for the cause of multilateralism and peace and security in our region,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted.

While America’s European allies resisted demands from the Trump administration over the last three months to re-impose the arms embargo on Iran, and also balked at instituting “snap-back” sanctions on the regime, as the U.S. has also urged, the governments in Britain, France, and Germany are seen as unlikely to sell arms directly to Iran, for fear of violating U.S. sanctions that could result in those countries being cut off from the American financial system.

“The president has always said he doesn’t want this to end in war,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus told Sinclair in an interview. “He wants this to end in peace. He wants this to end in negotiations for a new and better deal. And at some point, the regime, we think, is going to have to calculate that the price to pay of these sanctions is too high of a burden, and they’re going to reluctantly come to the table to negotiate.”

For the moment, however, with the U.S. presidential election two weeks away and President Donald Trump badly trailing his opponent, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, in most public opinion polls, America’s adversaries on the world stage are unlikely to participate in meaningful negotiations with Washington, preferring instead to see the outcome of the race for the White House.

In May 2018, Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal, calling the accord — finalized by seven countries, including the United States, Iran, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany — “a horrible, one-sided deal.” Since then, has periodically announced that it will enrich uranium to levels, and in volumes, prohibited by the accord, but has otherwise stayed in it, as have the other nations besides the U.S. 

Former Vice President Biden claims credit for helping to secure the cooperation of the other nations that were party to the nuclear deal. On the campaign trail earlier this year, Mr. Biden signaled that his approach to the containment of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and its conventional military buildup, would be to reassemble the international coalition that negotiated the nuclear deal and revive the accord.

“It was working,” Mr. Biden said of the nuclear deal during a debate against his rivals for the Democratic nomination in January. “It was being held tightly. There was no movement on the part of the Iranian government to get closer to a nuclear weapon….We’re now isolated….The next president has to be able to pull those folks back together, re-establish our alliances, and insist that Iran go back into the agreement, which I believe with the pressure applied as we put on before we can get done.”

Whoever wins the U.S. presidential election, the next commander-in-chief will confront an Iran that — while badly weakened by stiffened U.S. sanctions under the Trump administration —  is armed with the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East, opportunities to acquire new military systems, and undiminished hostility to the U.S. and Israel.

Morrison said the next administration, whoever runs it, will benefit from the foundation laid by Trump: “I think you’ve already seen a fairly significant effort by Iran to attempt to create a new sort of deterrence in the region. And ultimately, I think the Trump administration has been successful in defeating that, and imposing its own sort of deterrence.”

More Iranian Nuclear Secrets: Daniel 8:4

Exiled Iranian opposition group claims secret nuclear site revealed

The National Council of Resistance of Iran says the ayatollahs’ regime had “engaged in the secret and illicit purchase of military-grade sensitive seismometers from Russia.”

An exiled Iran opposition group said Friday that it had uncovered a secret new military site run by a shadowy defense ministry research unit which they fear is being used for testing in the Iranian nuclear program.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said that work on the site in Sorkheh-Hessar, east of Tehran, is used by sections of the secretive Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, overseen by the country’s defense ministry.

A section devoted to geophysics known as the Chamran Group is at the site and, according to the NCRI, “Works on projects related to underground nuclear tests.”

Their focus has included tests “for preliminary explosions to build nuclear weapons and record results by seismometers.” Previous tests had taken place at a site south of Semnan, the group said.

It alleged that Iran had “engaged in the secret and illicit purchase of military-grade sensitive seismometers from Russia” to carry out the work.

The NCRI argued its findings showed again that Iran was breaching the terms of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal signed with world powers.

The United States walked out of the deal under President Donald Trump in 2018, but European signatories have sought to keep it alive.

“Our revelation today once again proves the fact that the JCPOA did not prevent the mullahs’ activities to acquire nuclear weapons and even the regime has reneged on its commitments stipulated in the JCPOA,” the NCRI said.

Iran denies seeking a nuclear weapon, insisting that its atomic program is aimed at producing energy. But Western powers have long suspected that the drive seeks to make nuclear weapons.

The NCRI is the political wing of the People’s Mojahedin (MEK), a group that initially backed the 1979 Islamic Revolution that ousted the shah but rapidly fell out with the new authorities.

Its fighters took the side of Saddam Hussein in the Iraq-Iran war, and the group is now based in exile.

 i24NEWS contributed to this report.

China’s New Hypersonic Nuclear Weaponry: Daniel 7

Video Of Chinese Missile Carrier Jet Hauling What Appears To Be A Hypersonic Weapon Emerges

The video could be the first visual evidence that China is actively testing an air-launched hypersonic weapon.

Tyler RogowayOctober 17, 2020

Chinese Internet

DF-17s at the 70th Anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party parade. 

Video has emerged out of China showing what appears to be an H-6N missile carrier aircraft with a massive weapon slung underneath it. The unique wedge-shaped profile of the missile’s forward section points to the possibility that the missile is a hypersonic weapon system. In particular, the form factor looks similar to the one found on China’s ground-launched DF-17 hypersonic weapon, which uses a ballistic missile to boost an unpowered DF-ZF hypersonic boost-glide vehicle to a velocity well over Mach 5 before the vehicle continues on maneuvering path through the atmosphere to its target. You can read our previous post on the DF-17 here. 

China’s work on air-launched adaptations of their ground-launched ballistic missiles is not necessarily new. An air-launched DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile is thought to have been in development for some time. The pursuit of an air-launched hypersonic boost-glide vehicle weapon by China should be expected, as well, but this could be the first time we are actually seeing it. 

Being able to lug a hypersonic boost-glide vehicle hundreds or thousands of miles from Chinese territory would put bases that were previously outside the range of those weapons under threat from a so-far indefinable capability. Andersen Air Force Base on Guam and Wake Island, in particular, come to mind, but such a weapon could be used on many other highly defended adversary locales throughout the hemisphere. Hypersonic weapons are also being developed to counter adversary armadas, as well. Such a capability would assume China is a step ahead of the U.S. in that regard, which is debatable. 

As it sits now, this video serves as a reminder that a hypersonic arms race is very real and very active. While the U.S. has an alphabet soup of hypersonic programs under development, and more that are classified, China is not standing still, either. Like the Air Force’s own first hypersonic weapon, the bomber-launched AGM-183 ARRW, the People’s Liberation Army would benefit greatly from being able to put any target at risk within thousands of miles of its shores via a currently impossible to defend against and highly-precise air-launched hypersonic boost-glide vehicle. If this one video is any indication, they may be actively trying to keep pace with U.S. developments in that regard. Otherwise, the video shows the aircraft carrying a ballistic missile, which, depending on its application, has its own major strategic implications.

Details surrounding this video and the weapon seen in it are bound to change. We will keep you updated with additional information and analysis as we find out more. 

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Iran can Strengthen it’s Nuclear Horn

Iran hails ‘momentous day’ as UN arms embargo expires

October 18, 2020 3:41 pm

Iran nuclear deal

Symbolic victory deals blow to US but Trump administration threatens sanctions over any weapons deal with Tehran

An Iran-made cruise missile being fired during exercises by the northern Indian Ocean in June © WANA/Reuters

A UN arms embargo on Iran expired on Sunday, in a blow to the Trump administration that failed in its attempts to extend it.

The lifting of the embargo, part of the nuclear deal that Tehran signed with world powers in 2015, is a symbolic victory for the Islamic republic, which has been under intense pressure from Washington since President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the accord two years ago.

Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, said the expiration of the embargo was a “momentous day” for the international community, which had defied the US’s “malign” efforts and protected the nuclear accord.

Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, said Washington would sanction “any individual or entity that materially contributes to the supply, sale, or transfer of conventional arms to or from Iran”.

“Every nation that seeks peace and stability in the Middle East and supports the fight against terrorism should refrain from any arms transactions with Iran,” Mr Pompeo said in a statement. “Providing arms to Iran will only aggravate tensions in the region.”

The Trump administration had sought to extend the embargo but suffered a defeat at the UN Security Council in August, when Russia and China voted against the move and 11 powers, including the UK, France and Germany, abstained.

The following month, the US imposed more sanctions and Mr Trump claimed that all UN sanctions on Iran had been restored and the arms embargo extended.

While sharing some of the US’s concerns, Washington’s European allies said that the US could not take such measures because it had already withdrawn from the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA.

“In the short term, the impact of the expiry will be limited. Iran’s financial position means we don’t expect them to be able to make large purchases of arms,” said a European diplomat. “We share the US objectives; where we differ is on whether you should collapse the JCPOA to achieve them. For us it’s really important to prevent Iran developing a nuclear weapon and we still believe the JCPOA is the best vehicle.”

The UK, Germany and France opposed Mr Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the deal in 2018 and impose swingeing sanctions on the republic. Iran increased its nuclear activity in response but Tehran and the other signatories, including Russia and China, have remained committed to the 2015 deal.

The expiration of the embargo, which the UN Security Council imposed in 2007, was agreed as one of the so-called sunset clauses in the accord.

Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s president, said this week that Tehran could import and export arms to “whoever we like as of Sunday”. But potential buyers will be wary of being targeted by secondary US sanctions.

Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani (third from left) chairs a meeting in Tehran on Sunday © Ebrahim Seydi/Iranian Presidency/dpa

Analysts said it was unlikely that Iran would embark on large arms purchases because its economy has been crippled by the US sanctions, coronavirus and the slump in oil prices.

However, Ellie Geranmayeh, an Iran specialist at the European Council on Foreign Relations think-tank, said Russia and China were likely to announce arms agreements with Iran “to poke the Trump administration in the eye” and show that “the US was the loser in the game”.

But she added: “US sanctions on the financial sector and recent measures targeting Iran’s defence industry will make Russian and Chinese companies think twice, both in terms of coming under US pressure and if they can get paid by Iran.”

The lifting of the embargo is unlikely to alter the balance of military power in the region, as Iran’s regional rivals, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, spend tens of billions of dollars on US weapons.

Iran has been under varying degrees of international sanctions since the 1979 Islamic revolution, which forced it to develop an indigenous defence industry.

It produces an array of weapons, including drones and ballistic missiles, that are considered core to its national security. It has also built up a network of militant groups across the region that act as proxies as part of its defence strategy, aware that it cannot compete with its rivals in terms of conventional weapons.

“Iran has neither the resources, the personnel, the doctrine or the eager sellers to grow into a conventional power rapidly,” said Emile Hokayem, Middle East expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. “But there are discrete capabilities that would threaten US dominance, such as anti-ship missiles.”

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The hypocrisy of Obama’s Iran policy

Obama, Architect Of Numerous Foreign Policy Failures, Rips Trump: ‘Doesn’t Have The Patience … To Really Substantially Change A Lot Of Foreign Policy’

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Speaking on the leftist podcast “Pod Save America” on Wednesday, former President Barack Obama, whose disastrous efforts with foreign policy included supporting the tyrannical Iranian regime, the largest terrorist-supporting government on earth; championing the dangerous Iran nuclear deal; withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq in late 2011, leading to the rise of ISIS; ousting Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi, thus paving the way for anarchy and ISIS to gain a foothold there, and conducting a “reset” with Russia while Russian military gained ground  in eastern Ukraine, among other failures, slammed President Trump on foreign policy, snapping, “He doesn’t have the patience and the focus to really substantially change a lot of U.S. foreign policy.”

Just this week, Lebanon, an arch-foe of Israel, started talking to Israel; they “kicked off their first negotiations in 30 years on nonsecurity issues,” The New York Times noted. That follows the series of Arab countries starting to make peace with Israel, including the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Obama was prompted by host Tommy Vietor, who asked, “You spent countless hours with Vice President Biden talking about national security. What did you learn about how he thinks about diplomacy and counterterrorism and the use of military force that others would not have seen?”

Obama answered, as reported by Breitbart:

Well, a couple of things. One, and I think this is most important, is when people ask me what surprised me most about the presidency, you know, what I always tell them is: I understood but didn’t fully appreciate the degree to which we kind of underwrite the international order. And in the sense that even our enemies can expect us to behave like adults on the international stage. You know, if there’s a crisis somewhere, people don’t call Moscow or Beijing. They call us and say, “What are we going to do to help?” If there is ethnic cleansing, if there is a conflict, if there is a natural disaster. And the reason that we can serve in that role, even if we’re not perfect, is that we have the infrastructure. We have experienced diplomats. We have institutional traditions that allow us to show leadership on the international stage — whether it’s in the Paris Peace Accords, whether it’s on the Iran Deal, you name it.”

“The thing that over the last four years, it’s not as if Trump has been all that active internationally,” Obama said pompously. “I mean, the truth is he doesn’t have the patience and the focus to really substantially change a lot of U.S. foreign policy. What he’s done is he’s systematically tried to decimate our entire foreign policy infrastructure. And the thing I know about Joe is that he respects people who know history and have expertise, and he’s going to pay attention to somebody who has worked in Africa to find out, like, ‘how should I deal with a particular crisis there’ as opposed to calling it a bunch of I won’t say the word countries, right? He has a respect and understanding for what American leadership can do.”

Nile Gardiner, a former aide to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, said at the very end of Obama’s presidency that his Middle East policy was a failure, stating, “President Obama’s approach was extraordinarily naive in the Middle East. He also failed to combine his optimism with any hard power. That really enabled a number of very dangerous actors to emerge and to threaten directly the United States and its allies. It isn’t very clear that the Obama White House has any real strategy for eradicating ISIS. It’s a containment strategy; it’s not one of victory,” as The Washington Times reported.

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Iran makes a realistic nuclear threat: Daniel 8:4

Pompeo Claps Back at Iran’s Khamenei Over Nuclear Threat

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo departs a meeting with members of the UN Security Council, in New York, Aug. 20, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Mike Segar / Pool.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo clapped back at Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday after the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader asserted it could not be kept from obtaining nuclear weapons.

“Iran claims it doesn’t want a nuclear weapon, then threatens the world with its nuclear program,” Pompeo tweeted. “All nations must reject the regime’s extortion.”

“The US will never allow the world’s leading state sponsor of terror to have the world’s deadliest weapon — and yes, we can prevent it and will,” he vowed.

The Iranian Nuclear Secrets: Daniel 8

Atomic energy watchdog seeks details on secret Iranian nuclear site

Officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have asked the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) to provide details of their claims that Iran maintains a secret nuclear site hidden from the world. (Reuters/File Photo)

Iran’s plans for building a nuclear weapon have been checked by a UN-mandated embargo that was imposed in July 2007

Updated 15 October 2020


October 15, 2020 22:17

CHICAGO: Officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have asked the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) to provide details of their claims that Iran maintains a secret nuclear site hidden from the world as a UN-mandated nuclear arms embargo on Iran expires this week.

Lifting the UN arms embargo against Iran will allow Tehran to purchase and sell military arms with neighboring countries like Syria, Iraq and Yemen, a panel of experts hosted by the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington (AGSIW) said Thursday. They said Iran will be able to purchase weapons from China and Russia, including hi-tech fighter jets, sophisticated missiles and other weapons, and they agreed that it would allow Iran to pursue its nuclear agenda.

Iranian Parliament-in-Exile member Ali Safavi told the Arab News-sponsored Detroit radio program “The Ray Hanania Show” on Wednesday that the NCRI has evidence that Iran has been operating a secret nuclear facility. During the radio interview, Safavi said the NCRI will disclose the information publicly at a press conference that is scheduled for Friday.

Iran’s plans for building a nuclear weapon have been checked by a UN-mandated embargo that was imposed in July 2007 under the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The JCPOA expires on Oct. 18. US President Donald Trump said he will impose an embargo on Tehran, but experts said they expect European countries to sell weapons and equipment to Iran once the UN embargo expires.

Those weapons could include “armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery, combat aircraft and attack helicopters, warships and more significantly cruise missiles and launchers,” said panel host Hussein Ibish, AGSIW resident scholar.

All of this has become possible precisely because the US effort to use the JCPOA grievance mechanism didn’t work and nobody wanted to go along with the extension,” he added.

Thursday’s discussion titled “After the Embargo: Iran’s Weapons Agenda and its Regional Impact” also included AGSIW Senior Fellow Ali Alfoneh, AGSIW Non-Resident Fellow David Des Roches, and National Defense University Associate Professor Kirsten Fontenrose.

The military and arms experts agreed the embargo’s ending will not fuel an arms build-up by Iran’s non-state clients, like Hezbollah, but said they expect an increase in Iranian weapons purchases and sales with countries like Syria, Iraq and Yemen, impacting regional security concerns.

“Hezbollah would not be following UN Security Resolutions in any chance,” said Ali Alfoneh. “The biggest impact would not be on the non-state clients of Iran like Hezbollah.”

The lifting of the embargo would open the door to regional governments like Iraq and Syria possibly purchasing weapons from Iran to bolster their arsenals.

The Iranians have smuggled many embargoed items to their affiliates in the region. But with the embargo being lifted, it makes that volume and that flow much more significant,” Fontenrose said.

“The failure of the JCPOA was a huge shock to the political leadership in Iran,” Alfoneh said.

“The future is very insecure. Even if that administration changes, I am not entirely convinced that presidential candidate Joe Biden would go back to a JCPOA as it was before. It is very likely there will be some changes made to the JCPOA.”

Fontenrose anticipates that regardless of who wins the upcoming US election, she can foresee scenarios in which Israel would strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities with support from their Emirati partners, especially if Israel believes that the US is “too soft” on Iran.

“You are going to have hardliners in Tehran who slow-roll a nuclear deal and either have no deal with the Trump administration … or you will have Iran at the table but agreeing to very little with the Biden administration,” Fontenrose said.

“What you see is Israel saying we need to do something about this nuclear program if Iran continues to escalate it. If it stays in place it is a different story. But if Iran continues to ramp up its withdrawal from the JCPOA or ramp up its production, I can see Israel undertaking strikes again against their facilities. And at this point, will we see the UAE involved in the planning, not execution, of those strikes?”

Iranian activists claim regime has hidden nuclear facility

US embargo pressure on Iran has failed

Arms bazaar – The arms embargo on Iran is coming to an end | Middle East & Africa | The Economist

Oct 13th 2020

But don’t expect it to go on a buying spree

THE F-14 TOMCAT was a cutting-edge fighter jet when it first flew 50 years ago. It acquired iconic status when it starred in “Top Gun”, a Hollywood blockbuster, at the height of the Reagan era. Newer planes have long since taken its place in America’s air force. But Tomcats are still a feature of Iran’s decrepit armed forces, which acquired the planes shortly before the Islamic revolution in 1979. Many of the country’s other arms, from infirm British tanks to vintage American helicopters, are also museum pieces. But the expiration of a United Nations arms embargo on October 18th allows the country’s generals to dream of shinier weapons.

Iran’s armed forces have long had to make do with junk. Though America and Britain sold advanced weapons to the pro-Western Shah in the 1960s and 1970s, the theocracy that followed lost somewhere between one-half and two-thirds of that equipment in a brutal eight-year war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. The departure of Western technicians and an informal arms embargo prevented the Iranians from maintaining or replacing what was left. In 2007 the UN imposed a formal arms embargo, amid rising tensions over Iran’s nuclear programme.

The US puts pressure on the Chinese nuclear horn

U.S. Working to End Chinese Secrecy Around Nuclear Capabilities

John GradyOctober 15, 2020 3:16 PM

Chinese leader Xi Jinping aboard a PLA Navy ship. Xinhua photo

America’s senior arms negotiator said Washington is taking diplomatic and military steps to put an end to Beijing’s “great wall of secrecy” that surrounds its rapid and expanding strategic weapons program.

Speaking at a Heritage Foundation online forum this week, Marshall Billingslea, senior envoy for arms control, said Xi Jin-ping and the Communist Party leadership are engaged “in a crash nuclear build-up” with the intent of re-establishing China as the Middle Kingdom, the dominant global power.

China continues “to hide a dagger in a smile” diplomatically, Billingslea said.

Billingslea contrasted the more than 100-page document the United States has released on nuclear strategy to the five paragraphs China has publicly released on its nuclear program and strategy. He said in prepared remarks and in answers to questions that the United States is willing to engage in nuclear arms talks with Beijing and Moscow to avoid a new nuclear arms race.

Billingslea was speaking a little more than a month after the Pentagon released a report saying China has 200 operational nuclear weapons in its stockpile and is driving to at least double that number over the next decade.

Visible proof of Chinese intentions to build up strategic forces came most recently in the two-and-a half-mile-long parade of cruise and ballistic missiles on Oct. 1. In marking the 70th anniversary of the Communist takeover of China, Xi unveiled a new mobile launched DF-41 intercontinental missile.

For the past several years, Beijing has “aggressively” been testing cruise and ballistic missiles. Billingslea said that as of August, China has conducted “at least 70 this year.” The schedule “portends a major shift in Chinese nuclear posture.” Several times during the forum, Billingslea noted that the shift was taking place as Beijing increased pressure on Taiwan, asserting its territorial claims in the South and East China Seas and escalating border tensions with India.

“This is a warmongering Communist Party,” he said.

Billingslea said, “this cannot continue.” The result of China’s secrecy over the nuclear program, the aggressive cruise and ballistic missile testing and its refusal to join in serious arms control talks could lead to a three-way nuclear arms race.

The great danger is that Chinese nuclear “capability is likely outpacing their strategic thinking.” He noted China is also operating as a major nuclear power without any hotline connections to Washington or protocols on data exchanges to avoid miscalculations in a crisis.

“Diplomacy has not yet run its course,” he said. Billingslea argued countries would see Beijing in a better light internationally if China sat down to talk with the United States and Russia, as its prestige has fallen for its aggressive behavior and its initial handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Billingslea noted the support from Washington’s European allies — Austria, Sweden and expected support from New Zealand and Australia — on pressing the Chinese to honor their commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and become involved in writing a new strategic arms agreement.

As a way to entice China to participate in serious negotiations, “we’ll start with the Russians” on extending the START [Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty], he added. But any “new treaty has to be multilateral,” meaning China needs to come aboard at some point.

“We’re ready to strike the deal” to extend the treaty’s terms with the Kremlin, freezing nuclear weapon stockpiles, but with new verification methods in place. China has to come aboard at some point to make the treaty viable.

Other nuclear powers, especially India, are watching to see whether China chooses to engage in these new strategic arms limitation talks, Billingslea said.

For allies and other nations, he said “now’s time to ring up the Russians and tell them to take the deal.” The next step would be for Moscow to work to bring China into the wider negotiations. So far, they “are not going to us get there.”

Right now, the Chinese “want to finish the build-up before they sit down to talk,” he added.

The steps the United States is taking to counter Chinese and Russian nuclear build-ups include modernizing its nuclear triad — from systems like the Columbia class ballistic missile submarine to low-yield warheads and sea-launched missiles. Billingslea added that Washington is also developing land-based intermediate-range ballistic and cruise missiles for the Army and Marine Corps and hypersonic weapons.

Billingslea estimated China has “as many as 2,000 intermediate-range ballistic and cruise missiles.” Like START, China was never part of a treaty agreement to limit these weapons. The United States withdrew from Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 2019, arguing Russia had violated its terms repeatedly by stationing missiles with a range of 500 TO 5,500 kilometers on its western border.

In addition, to show Beijing that China’s “wanton aggression to your neighbors has consequences,” Billingslea said the United States will field new missile defense systems throughout Asia and Europe.