U.S. To Broach Nuke Concerns With China

March 4th, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: U.S. To Broach Nuke Concerns With China

Washington Times
March 4, 2008
Pg. 4
Doubts peaceful intent of Beijing plan
By Bill Gertz, The Washington Times
The Pentagon is set to begin strategic arms talks with China amid concerns outlined in an annual report questioning Beijing's control over the military's growing nuclear arsenal.
The annual report to Congress on China's military power, made public yesterday, showed for the first time that the Chinese military has problems communicating with its increasingly mobile nuclear-missile forces.
The report said China's new road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles and ballistic-missile submarines "will create new command and control challenges for China's leadership, now confronted with a different set of variables related to release and deployment authorities."
It added that China's military "has only a limited capacity to communicate with submarines at sea and the PLA Navy has no experience in managing [a nuclear missile submarine] fleet that performs strategic patrols."
PLA is the acronym for People's Liberation Army, controlled by the Communist Party.
Additionally, strategic nuclear missile forces, known as the Second Artillery Corps, showed control "issues" with mobile missile launchers. Recent missile exercises include "scenarios in which missile batteries lose communication links with higher echelons and other situations that would require commanders to choose alternative launch locations," according to the report.
"Pentagon concerns over China's command and control of nuclear forces are growing," said a Pentagon official, who noted that fears were first raised by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld several years ago and are shared by current Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.
China has refused in the past to discuss the procedures and technology it uses to prepare and launch nuclear forces, which include about 130 nuclear-armed missiles, including 20 silo-based intercontinental-range CSS-4 missiles.
For the first time, the report disclosed that China has deployed about 10 new road-mobile DF-31 long-range nuclear missiles, and is deploying up to five Jin-class missile submarines each armed with 10 to 12 JL-2 long-range missiles.
Missile warhead upgrades for nuclear forces include new maneuvering re-entry vehicles (MaRV), multiple independently targeted re-entry vehicles (MIRV), decoys, chaff, jamming, thermal shielding and anti-satellite weapons. The enhancements are intended to defeat missile defenses.
The strategic force buildup will "strengthen China's deterrent and enhance its capabilities for strategic strike," the report said.
David S. Sedney, deputy assistant defense secretary for East Asia, said in announcing the strategic talks yesterday that they are needed to better understand China's nuclear capabilities.
"I think the biggest thing for people to be concerned about, really, is the fact that we don't have that kind of strategic understanding of these Chinese intentions, and that leads to uncertainty, that leads to a readiness to hedge against the possibility that China's development will go in ways that the Chinese right now say it won't," he said.
China's leaders insist its military buildup is part of a peaceful rise.
Discussions with China on nuclear strategy and policy are "an area that really needs a lot more discussion," Mr. Sedney said, noting that the report refers to concerns about a lack of information on China's nuclear forces. The talks might begin in the next two months.
The report to Congress, required under 1999 legislation, also stated China is speeding its military buildup and developing high-technology forces for waging wars beyond Taiwan.
Excessive secrecy by China about its motivation and key weapons systems are prompting fears over the threats posed by the buildup and that "denial and deception" about its military could lead to miscalculation and a military crisis, according to the report.
The near-term focus of the buildup is on a Taiwan conflict, but "long-term trends suggest China is building a force scoped for operations beyond Taiwan."

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