China to Become Serious Player in Nuclear Missile Submarines

Jim Wolf of Reuters reports:

China appears to be within two years of deploying submarine-launched nuclear weapons, adding a new leg to its nuclear arsenal that should lead to arms-reduction talks, a draft report by a congressionally mandated US commission says.

China in the meantime remains “the most threatening” power in cyberspace and presents the largest challenge to US supply chain integrity, the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission said in a draft of its 2012 report to the US Congress.

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Apparently, China has not received the memo about the Cold War being over. Are you old enough to remember atom bomb drills at school? Maybe we ought to re-visit some things, in light of this chilling note from the quoted article:

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China is alone among the original nuclear weapons states to be expanding its nuclear forces, the report said. The others are the United States, Russia, Britain and France.

Wait. What? Expanding nuclear forces? Here I was thinking our President had engineered worldwide peace. The report continues:

Beijing already has deployed two of as many as five of a new class of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine. The JIN-class boat is due to carry the JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile with an estimated range of about 7,400 km (4,600 miles).

The new submarines and the JL-2 missile will give Chinese forces its “first credible sea-based nuclear capability,” the US Defense Department said in its own 2012 annual report to Congress on military and security developments involving China.

The JL-2 program has faced repeated delays but may reach an initial operating capability within the next two years, according to the Pentagon report, released in May.

The Pentagon declined to comment directly on China’s march toward creating a credible nuclear “triad” involving strategic bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

Considering the fact that we recently experienced the embarrassment of realizing that a Russian submarine had been patrolling off our coast for weeks undetected I would think it’s time to consider whether all of the base-closures of the last couple decades, and the downsizing of the Navy particularly, in favor of retooling our military to focus specifically on guys in flip-flops, might need to be re-evaluated. But that could be the ex-sub sailor in me showing his bias.


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