Chinese Nuclear, Conventional Missiles Stored Together

Discussion in 'China' started by blank_quest, Sep 24, 2012.

  1. blank_quest

    blank_quest Senior Member Senior Member

    Aug 4, 2012
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    Sept. 24, 2012
    An academic at Stanford University has found that China keeps some of its nuclear-tipped missiles stockpiled alongside missiles that carry nonatomic warheads, Wired magazine reported on Friday.

    There is some danger in this situation, according to Chinese politics specialist John Lewis. A nuclear power such as Russia or the United States might not be able to determine whether a missile fired by Beijing is loaded with a nuclear warhead, leading to an atomic response in a moment of crisis. Beijing might then use whatever remains of its nuclear arsenal, Lewis wrote in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

    Lewis, though, cautioned against worrying to much about such an eventuality, noting that Chinese officials had supported publication of his article as a means of promoting openness.

    China has formally stated its posture against being the first to use a nuclear weapon in a conflict. Lewis, though, argued that "the notion that China only acts in self-defense is wrong. Their whole war plan is aimed at attacking Taiwan." Beijing considers the autonomously governed island to be its territory and has warned of military action should Taiwan seek full independence.

    The United States, meanwhile, is not likely to over-react to an ambiguous missile firing from China, said former U.S. Ambassador James Dobbins.

    "I don’t believe the U.S. would launch a nuclear strike on warning in response to a Chinese ballistic attack on U.S. or allied targets,” he told Wired.

    The storage strategy can be seen as "practical, not rational," said Jeffrey Lewis, who heads the East Asia Nonproliferation Program for the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.

    It could be that Chinese leaders believe they could get away with firing a non-nuclear missile from a mixed-stock installation because an enemy would avoid retaliating against a site that holds nuclear weapons. Or it might be just that the oversized Chinese government has just not gotten around to separating the missiles.
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012

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