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China and the US
China Will Deploy Submarines with Nukes in the Pacific

China will station nuclear-armed submarines in the Pacific, in the latest escalation between Beijing and Washington. The Guardian reports:

China has been working on ballistic missile submarine technology for more than three decades, but actual deployment has been put off by technical failures, institutional rivalry and policy decisions.

Until now, Beijing has pursued a cautious deterrence policy, declaring it would never be the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict and storing its warheads and its missiles separately, both strictly under the control of the top leadership.

Deploying nuclear-armed submarines would have far-reaching implications.

Warheads and missiles would be put together and handed over to the navy, allowing a nuclear weapon to be launched much faster if such a decision was taken. The start of Chinese missile patrols could further destabilise the already tense strategic standoff with the US in the South China Sea.

There’s a lot to be concerned about in the Pacific these days. Last week saw Chinese aircraft maneuvering around an American fighter over the South China Sea. Earlier this week, Chinese state media raised the possibility of war with the United States should there be a midair collision as a result of future encounters. Then the United States lifted the arms embargo on Vietnam, a move which has greatly frustrated Beijing.

Things are heating up between China and the United States. We’ve written that Beijing seems to be trying to take advantage of President Obama’s final year in office, believing he might be less likely to confront them than whomever comes next. But the White House (and in particular the Pentagon) seem to have more fight in them than Beijing bargained. The question is which side will blink first, and what will happen if neither does.

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  • JR

    Good to see pentagon hasn’t lost its collective balls.

  • Dale Fayda

    “But the White House (and in particular the Pentagon) seem to have more fight in them than Beijing bargained.”

    What “fight” has the Obama regime exhibited in confronting the Chi-Coms in the Pacific, exactly? Sailing some warships past Chinese-occupied and militarized islands? Conducting a low-level military exercise or two? Issuing a strongly worded PR statement? None of it has slowed down the Chinese one iota, as evidenced by the title of this very article.

    “The question is which side will blink first, and what will happen if neither does.”” Obama will blink first every time. The end.

    • Nevis07

      I’m not sure Obama even realizes he’s been stared down. He seems entirely unconcerned with trying to deter aggression.

  • f1b0nacc1

    I find it laughable than anyone treats this as particularly important news. The Chinese are deploying SSBNs because they believe that they are finally able to do so (they have been trying for decades with very little result), and any tactical fallout on a strictly transitory fight (which they are winning in any event) with the US over the South China Sea is incidental at best. Given the very low quality of the current Chinese SSBNs and the command/control problems inherent in deploying them (not the least of which is giving control of nuclear missiles to crews outside of the immediate supervision of the Communist Party apparatus), this is almost a complete non-story.

    • Frank Natoli

      Just speculating, no knowledge of any relevant classified material, but a boomer has to be ordered to fire. In the present digital age, that order to fire is unquestionably an encrypted ELF message and, absent hacking, hah-hah, beyond the control of the sub’s crew. No digital order to fire, no rockets red glare. Perhaps the crew has the ability to refuse such an order, but why would the launch programming be designed to give the crew complete discretion to fire?
      In any case, agree it’s a non-story.

      • f1b0nacc1

        Your assessment is reasonable, but I am afraid that it is likely not valid in this case. There isn’t good evidence that the Chicoms actually have a working ELF system (their last generation of SSBNs used bouys for communications of this sort, and our most recent info suggests that this hasn’t change – no, that isn’t particularly secret either….sigh….) Even if they did have a working ELF system, the digital signal only gives them the option to fire, it doesn’t guarantee that they actually WILL fire, which is a big problem for the Chicoms. What I suspect that they are worried about is a SSBN doing a ‘Red October’, and defecting to the US. No matter how careful you are about your crew selection, you always have to take this risk, and the Chinese are particularly uncomfortable with some of their crew reliability issues.

        The problem with making everything computer controlled is that the Chinese don’t trust their systems any more than we do, and demand a man in the loop. This is a bigger problem for them than us, but it does require that the crews have some level of independence.

        And yes….total non-story….

        Enjoy your holiday!

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