China Leaks 'Top Secret' Nuclear Weapons Plans

Discussion in 'China' started by SajeevJino, Aug 7, 2012.

  1. SajeevJino

    SajeevJino Long walk Elite Member

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    As a former military attaché in China and Army intelligence officer, I only very rarely managed to get my hands on “Top Secret” Chinese documents. Today, around the Washington, DC area alone, there are by my count some eight original copies of The Science of Second Artillery Campaigns in the hands of China specialists at universities, think tanks, and policy institutes


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    The document, labeled “Top Secret,” is somewhat comforting to the community involved in thinking about nuclear weapons doctrine, escalation control, and crisis management. Embodied in Chinese policy, as set out in this PLA publication, is a confirmation that China will maintain a minimal nuclear deterrent of a few weapons able to effect a response to a first strike by another power, an affirmation that China will never be the first to use nuclear weapons, and an explanation of the alert levels and rough response times for the PLA Second Artillery force in the event of nuclear war.

    The number of original documents in the hands of U.S. specialists on China stimulated me to think about why so many highly classified documents managed to leak out of one of its most secretive arms of the PLA. As a former intelligence collector, it is clear that losing one document like this is a major security breach, but losing a trove is a rare thing. And outside the Washington-based China-watching community, there are more copies. Some are on the US west coast, others are in Taiwan.

    One explanation for this seeming breach is that although the PLA is not willing to sit down in government-to-government exchanges on nuclear doctrine and escalation control, PLA leaders decided to provide some sort of reassurance to the Western policy community. The implications of the underlying policy in The Science of Second Artillery Campaigns is that China is a “responsible nuclear power” that will not engage in an arms race. Stated nuclear doctrine is, indeed, embodied in what should be tightly controlled PLA doctrinal writings. And, to reinforce this interpretation, the discussion of nuclear force levels, “no first use” policy, and readiness levels contained in the Second Artillery Force publication is consistent with the contents of the unclassified PLA publication, Seco. If that is the case, why bother classifying the Second Artillery’s publication so highly? Taken together, these two publications affirm everything that the arms control community would advocate about building down U.S. nuclear forces toward “nuclear zero.”

    There is at least one alternative explanation, however. Inside the nuclear policy community in China we know there is some debate about the utility of the “no first use” policy. A minority of younger PLA officers and scholars argue that China needs to increase the size of its nuclear forces and leave open the question of how China might respond to conventional strikes on the Chinese mainland. Also, there is the suggestion by analysts like Phillip Karber that the United States may have seriously underestimated the size of China’s nuclear force, which is now mobile and may be hidden in a complex of tunnels. A few Russian scholars, and Karber’s work, suggest that China may have considerably more than the 400 or so U.S. documents credit the PLA with having. One Russian specialist, Alexei Arbatov, estimates that China may have between 1,000 and 3,500 reserve warheads stockpiled based on his analysis of Beijing’s fissile material production capabilities. Victor Yesin, a retired Russian general, estimates that China has between 1,600 and 1,800 warheads. Certainly the Chinese nuclear infrastructure is capable of producing the fissile material for more than 400 warheads.

    An alternative explanation to the existence of so many highly classified documents leaking out to the West in so short a time is that the PLA is involved in a major perception management and disinformation campaign. Could what many of us have accepted, this writer included, as established PLA doctrine because of these books be part of a more nuanced effort designed to reinforce the effort in the United States to reduce the size of our nuclear forces and to rethink the scope and deployment of U.S. efforts on ballistic missile defenses?

    It would be one thing if one or two highly classified documents out of China somehow leaked out into the policy community and then copies made their way into the hands of interested scholars and policy analysts. But that is not the case. Instead, a large number of highly classified original documents have found their way out of China. It is as though a case or two of documents from a Chinese publishing house, which heretofore has managed to control its classified inventory, was shipped to bookstores in Taiwan and Hong Kong. My experience as an intelligence officer is that such a massive breach is a very rare thing. Intelligence collectors can labor for years to get their hands on one copy of a document at this level of classification.

    If U.S. policy-makers accept the force levels and doctrines in The Science of Second Artillery Campaigns as established policy in China, then U.S. (as well as Russian and Indian) force levels can be safely reduced. Ballistic missile defense programs can be scaled in a way to counter a limited nuclear threat, not only from China, but other nascent nuclear powers like North Korea. But if the Karber thesis is closer to the truth, and China has a significantly larger nuclear force that we believe to be true, the U.S., and its allies that depend on extended deterrence, could be in for a shocking strategic surprise.

    The manifestation of so many copies of this document in so many hands makes it all the more urgent that the U.S. continue to pursue a direct, government-to-government strategic dialogue with China. The Second Artillery Force has avoided such exchanges to date; even if there have been limited track-two dialogues. [Editor’s note: The Pacific Forum manages two such dialogues annually, which help set the stage for, and would complement, but are no substitute for official exchanges.] The existence of so many PLA publications outside China on this heretofore carefully protected area of policy makes it unwise to base future U.S. force and defensive postures on what may be a managed perception management campaign.

    Larry M. Wortzel, Ph.D. is a retired US Army colonel who served two tours of duty as a military attaché in China. He was director of the Strategic Studies Institute at the Army War College and is the author of China’s Nuclear Forces: Operations, Training, Doctrine, Command, Control and Campaign Planning (Strategic Studies Institute, 2007). This article was originally published by Pacific Forum CSIS PacNet here, and represents the views of the respective author.


    China’s Nuclear ‘Leakage’ | China Power
     
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  3. Drsomnath999

    Drsomnath999 lord of 32 teeth Elite Member

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    well chinese are building a credible nuclear deterrent to thwart any aggression from US /NATO.The question remain to be seen would chinese use Nuclear
    weapons against the US if there is war between US & CHINA if they are overwhelmed by US military superiority.
     
  4. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    The Chinese are good in the game of deception. 1500 warheads is way way way over what was previously thought and also accepted by the Chinese who said their arsenal was the smallest among P5
     
  5. Bhadra

    Bhadra Defence Professionals Defence Professionals Senior Member

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    Nuclear weapons in case of china are ment to used and not exhibited.... USA used nukes so why not china ..they will use those against americans like USSR was was determined..
     
  6. no smoking

    no smoking Senior Member Senior Member

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    One error in your statement is ignoring the fact that China cannot afford a nuclear war with USA. The best result that China can hope from such a war is turning USA to a second class country while China is completely destroyed. When you fight a war, survival is the first target above all.

    Another error is you forget USA's huge advantage in conventional weapon. They don't need to use nukes against China unless they decided to invad China in a full scale war.
     
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  7. asianobserve

    asianobserve Elite Member Elite Member

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    I think with the number of nuclear weapons in Chinese arsenal China can definitely wage a nuclear war with the US. And to declare that the US will win in a nuclear war with China is an ignorant conclusion. Nobody will win in a nuclear war. Even if only 100 of the Chinese nuclear warheads hit the US America (and the World) as we know it will cease to exist.

    p.d. nuclear weapons are only weapons of deterence.
     
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  8. sayareakd

    sayareakd Moderator Moderator

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    We should also get copy of this doc.
    I think we should also leak plan saying xxxx numbers etc, with no first use and most of the enemy targets on their economic heart land and population center, along with two front war response, this will lead one of our enemy to be bankrupt automatically.
     
  9. GromHellscream

    GromHellscream Regular Member

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    Nuclear weapons are not as powerful as you think it to be. At least 3 of the P5 really once had or is having a serious consideration of using nukes on enemies, especially to those ones without nuclear retaliation capabilities.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2012
  10. no smoking

    no smoking Senior Member Senior Member

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    With only 20-30 missiles having ability to reach American homeland, I really doubt that China have any chance to win a nuclear war.
    Even with 100 of nuclear warheads hit the USA, I really doubt that it will cease to exist.
    At least, PLA doesn't think so.
    In last 70s, China was preparing to lost half ot its country to USSR before even thinking about nuclear war.
     
  11. s002wjh

    s002wjh Senior Member Senior Member

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    there is no winner in nuclear war. people forgot its not the instant that nuke explode but the aftermath that will destroy most people. even with 50 nuke hit US cities, millions will die, economy is gone, then radiation will like spread throughout N.america. there probably won't be any power, most population will die afterward due to lack power, food, radiation, and other things. just 1 nuke exploade high orbit of N.america will destroy about half US power grid, without power 1/3 population could die and in serious trouble, riot, food etc etc. its the things we take for granted that will destroy us. also i doubt russia will sit standby and watch its backyard fill with radiation, and spread of radiation will get to russia pretty quick.

    there was a theory before, that when any major power lunch nuke, the other power will follow suit to hit any power that potentially can become a super power after nuke. the idea is if china/us is ruin, both won't allow russia to become the next superpower, so its mutual destruction for everyone, not just the power involved.
     

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