China could soon target the United States with sea-based nuclear weapons as it is reinforcing its submarines with long-range nuclear ballistic missiles, a US congressional report has found.
China’s military is set to acquire a reliable, hard-to-destroy sea-based nuclear deterrent, with a dozen JL-2 missiles that are being mounted on its JIN class submarines, according to a report submitted to Congress by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
The missiles have a strike range of around 7,350 km, meaning they can reach all 50 US states if they are launched from waters west or east of Hawaii.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding China’s stockpiles of nuclear missiles and nuclear warheads, it is clear China’s nuclear forces over the next three to five years will expand considerably and become more lethal and survivable with the fielding of additional road-mobile nuclear missiles; as many as five JIN SSBNs,each of which can carry 12 JL–2 submarine-launched ballistic missiles; and intercontinental ballistic missiles armed with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs) (for an overview of China’s nuclear ballistic missiles, deployment modes, and maximum ranges, see Table). At the same time, China likely will continue to improve its silo-based nuclear force; harden its nuclear storage facilities, launch sites, and transportation networks; and expand its already extensive network of underground facilities.
JL-2 submarine missile
China has commissioned three JIN SSBNs since 2007 and likely will introduce two additional units by 2020. The JIN SSBN’s intended weapon, the JL–2 submarine launched ballistic missile, appears to have reached initial operational capability after approximately ten years of R and D, giving China its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent.* The JL–2’s range of approximately 4,598 miles gives China the ability to conduct nuclear strikes against Alaska if launched from waters near
China; against Alaska and Hawaii if launched from waters south of Japan; against Alaska, Hawaii, and the western portion of the
continental United States if launched from waters west of Hawaii; and against all 50 U.S. states if launched from waters east of Hawaii.
A November 2013 article in a Chinese newspaper sponsored by the CCP hails the arrival of China’s JIN SSBN and JL–2 submarine-launched ballistic missile and illustrates a notional employment scenario against the United States:
After a nuclear missile strikes a city, the radioactive dust produced by 20 warheads will be spread by the wind, forming a contaminated area for thousands of kilometers. The survival probability for people outdoors in a [746 to 870 mile] radius is basically zero. Based on the actual level of China’s one million tons TNT equivalent small nuclear warhead technology, the 12 JL–2 nuclear missiles carried by one JIN nuclear submarine could cause the destruction of five million to 12 million people, forming a very clear deterrent effect. There is not a dense population in the United States’ midwest region, so to increase the destructive effect, the main soft targets for nuclear destruction in the United States will be the main cities on the west coast, such as Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego.
DF-41 with 10 MIRVs with 7,456 mile range
In December 2013, China reportedly conducted the second flight test of a new road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile, the DF–41. The DF–41, which could be deployed as early as 2015, may carry up to 10 MIRVs and have a maximum range as far as 7,456 miles, allowing it to target the entire continental United States. In addition, some sources claim China has modified the DF–5 and the DF–31A to be able to carry MIRVs. Moreover, China in late September reportedly conducted the first flight test of a new DF-31 variant, the DF-31B, which may be able to carry MIRVs. China could use MIRVs to deliver nuclear warheads on major U.S. cities and military facilities as a means of overwhelming U.S. ballistic missile defenses.
Long range DF-41 nuclear ICBM with 10 MIRVs multiple re-entry vehicles
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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