China’s military capabilities are improving at such a clip that the entire western United States will be vulnerable to a Chinese nuclear attack within ten years, according to a new report. Defense News has an excellent summary of the congressionally funded report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission from November 19:
The report said China’s growing nuclear warfare capabilities are ominous. Over the next five years, China’s nuclear force will rapidly expand and modernize, providing China with an extensive range of military and foreign policy options and “potentially weakening U.S. extended deterrence, particularly with respect to Japan.’Over the next three- to five years, China’s nuclear program will also become more lethal and survivable with the fielding of additional road-mobile nuclear missiles; five nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, each of which can carry 12 sea-launched intercontinental-range ballistic missiles (ICBM); and ICBMs armed with multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRV).In 2013 the Pentagon reported that China’s nuclear arsenal consisted of only 50- to 75 ICBMs, with the number of ICBMs capable of reaching the United States could expand to more than 100 within the next 15 years. However, the report said some analysts assess China may be obscuring a much larger nuclear effort and have much larger stockpiles.
It’s not just ICBMs. China’s navy, too, is improving in ways that will enable Beijing to carry out a nuclear attack on the United States:
China’s growing sea-based nuclear deterrent began in 2007 with the commissioning of three Jin-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) and the expected introduction of two additional SSBNs by 2020.The Jin’s SSBN’s JL–2 submarine-launched ballistic missile appears to have reached initial operational capability, “giving China its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent.” The JL–2’s range of 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.”
The Chinese ability to place nukes all over the United States will change the strategic calculus in a potential U.S.-China conflict. And that’s not the only game-changing Chinese military capability. According to the report, China is set to complete development of other key weapons technology, with anti-satellite laser and jamming technology, as well as road-mobile missile launch platforms, coming along swiftly.The Defense News piece also cites a piece in China’s Global Times about the impact of a potential nuclear missile strike: “The article notes that the survival probability for people outdoors in a 746 to 870 mile radius was zero.” Read the whole thing here.