China's real nuclear capabilities

Discussion in 'Strategic Forces' started by LETHALFORCE, May 28, 2009.

  1. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    Asia Times Online :: China News - China's real nuclear capabilities

    China's real nuclear capabilities
    By David Isenberg

    WASHINGTON - It is never hard to find someone worrying about China's nuclear weapons. For example, the recent annual report of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission says, "Beijing continues to improve its older intercontinental ballistic missiles and seeks to field increasingly mobile, accurate and survivable and therefore more credible ICBMs ... China's newer longer-range [missile] systems will reach many areas of the world ... including virtually the entire continental United



    States."

    Yet it seems that China has more to worry about than the United States, according to another recent report. It found, just like classic "missile gap" alarm of the Cold War, that the US military, intelligence agencies and conservative think-tanks and news organizations are exaggerating China's nuclear-weapons capability to justify developing a new generation of nuclear and conventional weapons.

    And in a surrealistic act of mirror-imaging, the Chinese have been citing US weapons upgrades as a rationale for modernizing theirs, locking the two nations in a dangerous action-and-reaction competition reminiscent of the Cold War, according to a report issued on November 30 by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

    In a perverse way it actually makes sense. Ever since the crackup of the Soviet Union, various political and military figures have been desperately searching for rationales to justify hanging on to and modernizing the US nuclear arsenal.

    Of course, the negligible size of China's nuclear forces has made that a hard sell. As the report notes right at the start, "The Chinese-US nuclear relationship is dramatically disproportionate in favor of the United States and will remain so for the foreseeable future."

    Even the Pentagon's last annual "Military Power of the People's Republic of China" report notes that Beijing has consistently stated its adherence to a "no first use" nuclear doctrine, which is that China will never use nuclear weapons first against a nuclear-weapons state, nor will China use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear-weapons state or nuclear-weapons-free zone.

    It also noted that China currently deploys about 20 silo-based, liquid-fueled ICBMs, which constitute its primary means of holding continental US targets at risk. But according to the FAS-NRDC report, the United States has more than 830 missiles - most with multiple warheads - that can reach China. By 2015, when US intelligence projects that China will have 75 missiles primarily targeted against the United States, the US force will include 780 land- and sea-based missiles.

    The report found that although the United States has maintained extensive nuclear-strike plans against Chinese targets for more than a half-century, China has never responded by building large nuclear forces of its own and is unlikely to do so in the future. As a result, Chinese nuclear weapons are quantitatively and qualitatively much inferior to their US counterparts.

    China's total stockpile numbers about 200 warheads; the United States has nearly 10,000. By 2015, after China deploys a new generation of ballistic missiles and the US has completed its planned reductions, China may have some 220 warheads and the US more than 5,000.

    The report's main finding is that the Pentagon and others routinely highlight specific incidents out of context that inaccurately portray a looming Chinese threat. Specifically, the report demonstrates that they have been embellishing China's submarine- and long-range-missile capabilities.

    US intelligence agencies warn that the Chinese will be able to target 75-100 nuclear warheads at the continental United States by 2015. But that prediction assumes China will be able to deploy 40-55 new DF-31A missiles before 2015, in addition to two other shorter-range missiles. Given that the Chinese have yet to conduct test flights of the DF-31A, the report concluded that that assumption is highly questionable.

    The Pentagon also has made much out of the fact that China's next-generation missiles will be mobile. But the majority of China's ballistic-missile force has always been mobile, the report points out, and the US military has targeted it as a routine matter since the 1980s. In fact, improved US targeting of Chinese missiles has played a significant role in prompting China to develop new long-range missiles.

    As the report makes clear, the disparity between US and Chinese nuclear capabilities is so overwhelming as to make any talk about the Chinese threat farcical. For example:
    None of China's long-range nuclear forces are believed to be on alert; most US ballistic missiles are on high alert, ready to launch within minutes after receiving a launch order.
    China's sole nuclear-ballistic-missile submarine has never gone on patrol. As a result, the crews of the new Jin-class subs currently under construction will need to start almost from scratch to develop the operational and tactical skills and procedures that are essential if a sea-based deterrent is to be militarily effective and matter strategically.
    China may be able to build two or three new missile subs over the next decade, but they would be highly vulnerable to anti-submarine forces; the US Navy has 14 missile-bearing subs and has moved the majority of them into the Pacific.
    China may have a small number of aircraft with a secondary nuclear capability, but they would be severely tested by US and allied air-defense systems or in air-to-air combat. The United States operates 72 long-range bombers assigned missions with nuclear gravity bombs and land-attack cruise missiles.
    China does not have nuclear-armed cruise missiles, although US intelligence suspects it might develop such a capability in the future. The United States has more than 1,000 nuclear cruise missiles for delivery by aircraft and attack submarines.

    Another relevant aspect of the report, especially in light of recent US experience with Iraq, details how badly US intelligence has misjudged Chinese nuclear capabilities. The report found that estimates about the size of the Chinese nuclear arsenal were grossly overstated, sometimes by several hundred percent, and timelines for when new systems would come on line were almost always much too optimistic.

    The reasons for these misjudgments include China's ability to keep its capabilities hidden, a tendency among some intelligence analysts to overstate their conclusions, and the Pentagon's general inclination to assume the worst. This predisposition to exaggerate the Chinese threat unfortunately remains evident today.

    The sad irony is that both countries point to what the other is doing as a justification to modernize. The report notes that China is about to deploy three new long-range ballistic missiles that the US says were developed in response to its own deployment of more accurate Trident sea-launched ballistic missiles in the early 1980s.

    Meanwhile, the US has increased its capability to target Chinese mobile missiles, and the Pentagon is arguing that the long-term outlook for China's long-range ballistic-missile force requires increased targeting of Chinese forces.

    David Isenberg, a senior analyst with the Washington-based British American Security Information Council (BASIC), has a wide background in arms-control and national-security issues. The views expressed are his own.
     
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  3. badguy2000

    badguy2000 Respected Member Senior Member

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    well, all above is just clueless guess and imagination...

    only two are confirmed:

    1, CHina has had nuke for over 45 years.
    2.China's industry base is enough to arm a decent nuke troops.
     
  4. p2prada

    p2prada Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Chinese have only 8 reactors compared to 110 in the US. US also has atleast 2000 active warheads ready to fire at anytime.
     
  5. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

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    Do you have any references to back up your claims ?

    What do you mean by nuke troops ?

    What is again confirmed is that
    US is ahead of China qualitatively and quantitatively when it comes to wmds and their delivery systems.
    China has no credible ABM shield and response mechanism.
    US has a credible ABM shield and response mechanism.
     
  6. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    also most of the uranium going for the reactors is imported, and USA can stop the imports at anytime if China appears to be threatening.
     
  7. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    this means we also have the same number just on our Military side in the nuke deal; off limit side, as China does; with FBR and thorium cycle capability ,cranking out many times the amount of ordinary reactors china has, and producing more plutonium than China no wonder China was opposed to the deal.
     
  8. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    according to this map they have less reactors than us

    [​IMG]
     
  9. sayareakd

    sayareakd Moderator Moderator

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    why Tibet does not have any nuclear reactor (planned ) ???
     
  10. badguy2000

    badguy2000 Respected Member Senior Member

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    CHina's nuke capacity is very pathetic and poor..so take it easy and have a good sleep,buddy..
     
  11. EnlightenedMonk

    EnlightenedMonk Member of The Month JULY 2009 Senior Member

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    We do not mean to offend you badguy, but its just that we are trying to ascertain the true capability if possible... please do not take offences where they are not meant...
     
  12. EnlightenedMonk

    EnlightenedMonk Member of The Month JULY 2009 Senior Member

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    One more thing I noticed from this map is that all the reactors are close to the coast...

    Any submarine launched missile ought to be able to take all of them out...
     
  13. kautilya

    kautilya Regular Member

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    So are most Indian reactors... Except for NAPS and RAPS.
     
  14. SammyCheung

    SammyCheung Guest

    China has been stockpiling plutonium for decades. Nobody knows how many military nuclear facilities there are.

    It is well known that China attained by the 90's cold war standard nuclear weapons technology.

    Currently China probably has about 300 land-based nuclear missiles and about 60 SLBMs.

    Across the spectrum, China is well ahead by more than 20 years.
     
  15. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    Well ahead of who by 20 years???
     
  16. Known_Unknown

    Known_Unknown Devil's Advocate Stars and Ambassadors

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    Someone tell Sammy that China has supposedly stopped producing fissile material since the mid 90's. On the other hand, India continues to produce plutonium for its bombs. China exploded its first nuke in 1964, while India exploded its first in 1974. Considering that the Chinese were producing fissile material for approx 32 years (1964-1996), India has been doing the same for 35 years (1974-2009 and ongoing). They are ahead in missile technology, but their bomb designs are mostly vintage 60s, 70s and 80s, while most of ours are 90's and newer.
     
  17. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    exaggerations as usual by chinese

    China's Fissile Material Production and Stockpile

    also we can produce more plutonium in our military FBR's and it will always be unknown how much, our missile program is currently only to deal with the immediate threats and it suits our needs until we feel we need an ICBM program, and AGNI 3's are MIRV and our GSLV and PSLV knowlege and experience can help us to quickly start an ICBM program if we choose.
     
  18. SATISH

    SATISH DFI Technocrat Stars and Ambassadors

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    Well we have more tritium than anyone in this world as we resorted to the heavy water reactors.
     
  19. SammyCheung

    SammyCheung Guest

    India of course.

    LOL. China is not a member of the fissile material cut-off treaty.

    India can't even make a megaton bomb. Everything is in the dozens of kilotons. China has been playing with multimegaton bomb since the 80's. India has what like two nuclear tests. China has dozens.

    These days, China fields MIRVed warheads with yields in the half-megaton range, equivalent to what USA and Russia fields. India takes up an entire strategic missile with a 20 kiloton or so weapon.

    LOL! Even your own source states that China only uses half of its fissile material in existing weapons! In the event of any escalation, China's nuclear weapon stockpile can double in months.

    You folks are all talk. Agni-2 is undeployed yet. And that is one ugly and hard to deploy weapon.

    China has been fielding missiles equivalent to the Russian Topol-M since last year.
     
  20. F-14

    F-14 Global Defence Moderator Senior Member

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    sammy stop acting like a total moron will you becoz it dosent suite you or your CPC
     
  21. Zmey Smirnoff

    Zmey Smirnoff Regular Member

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    Moron or not, but Chinese nuclear capabilities should be compared to US and Russia, not India. With all due respect, India doesnt even have ICBM, what are we even talking about here?
     

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