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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

China and its nuclear development...

I wrote my thesis on the threat China poses to the United States as their ability to project power matures. STRATFOR has good update on their long range missile capabilities. Excerpts below.
China has added the long-range Dongfeng-41 to its nuclear missile fleet. Like this Dongfeng-21 variant displayed in a military parade in Beijing, the Dongfeng-41 is a solid-fueled road-mobile missile system. (GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)

A Chinese Nuclear Deterrent Aimed at the U.S.

January 25, 2017 | 01:10 GMT

Deployments of nuclear-capable missiles always send a message, but it isn't always immediately clear who the target is. Chinese media reported Tuesday on the possible deployment of long-range Dongfeng-41 intercontinental ballistic missiles in northeastern China close to Russia, triggering speculation in Russian media about China's intent. One possibility that has been raised is that the move was in response to potential U.S-Russian negotiations over arms treaties. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov rebutted the idea, adding that Russia does not consider China's positioning of the nuclear-capable systems in Heilongjiang province a threat. And with a quick look at the Chinese nuclear missile force structure, the Kremlin's reaction makes sense: The nature and capabilities of the Dongfeng-41, along with its deployment near the city of Daqing close to the Russian border, mean that the systems are far more likely intended as a nuclear deterrent against the United States.

China has had a nuclear missile capable of reaching the United States since the early 1980s, the Dongfeng-5, but it has issues that have limited its recent effectiveness as a credible deterrent. Its liquid fuel propellant means that it must undergo a lengthy fueling process before it can be launched, and its lack of mobility renders its silos vulnerable to strikes by increasingly accurate munitions. Those threats to its survivability reduce its value as a minimum credible deterrence...

Development of the Dongfeng-41 — a solid-fuel nuclear-capable road-mobile system — is thought to have begun in the late 1980s, but the program was subject to multiple delays and pauses along the way. Other updates to China's strategic arsenal were introduced in the meantime...
This is where the Dongfeng-41 comes in. Since China has had the Dongfeng-31, a missile capable of reaching all of Russia, for more than a decade, Moscow does not consider the Dongfeng-41 to be an added threat. If anything, deployment of the Dongfeng-41 near the Russian border actually increases the system's vulnerability to a Russian strike, including from conventional weapons. Instead, its deployment is heavily influenced by geography. Given the distances involved and the ballistic missile trajectory from China to the United States, Heilongjiang province is the ideal location to maximize the missile's reach so it covers all of the continental United States. The Dongfeng-5 missiles have long been based in the same region for the same reasons.

China is in the middle of a campaign to expand both the scope and capabilities of its nuclear forces. Not only is it adding newer and more capable ballistic missiles to active duty, but it is also expanding its capabilities in other areas, such as the development of technologies that would give its missiles the ability to carry multiple warheads and the buildup of the sea-based leg of its nuclear deterrent.

The nuances, deployments and developments of China's entire nuclear arsenal must be kept in perspective when evaluating the deployment of its new intercontinental ballistic missiles. But it is even more crucial to maintain a close watch on the effect Chinese nuclear weapons developments have on the rest of the world. Its evolving capabilities have the potential to increase competition with India, in turn affecting Pakistan's nuclear growth. They could also complicate arms control dynamics between the United States and Russia...

I would add China is working on both carriers and submarines. Really sobering, unless something changes, by the mid-2020's China will more have more subs than the United States in the South China Sea.


  1. The DF-41 is a development that is troubling. But it does show that they are advancing while we having't done anything new since Minuteman III in the early '70's. It might not be a bad idea to come up with a new generation of weapons that are similar in concept to Midgetman.

    1. It is very troubling, also, they are working seriously on force projection. Their first carrier (a Russian refurb) has been fielded (will likely be used for training only) but they are also working on (if memory serves) two domestically produced carriers. And (again, if memory serves) without some serious building by us, they will soon (early 2020s) have more subs in the Pacific then we do. The budget is gonna have to be reworked so we can afford new ships. And, which there is no question Trump is an improvement over Obama (a very low standard) he hasn't been tested. Reagan, the Soviets knew he was not a man to truffled with. Trump hasn't really been at bat yet.

      Disturbing times.