China's missile advances could thwart US defenses, analysts say

By Published: August 24, 2012

China is moving ahead with the development of a new and more capable generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched missiles, increasing its existing ability to deliver nuclear warheads to the United States and to overwhelm missile defense systems,The New York Times reported.

The Times report quoted Larry Wortzel, a retired U.S. Army colonel who now serves on the congressional United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission, who said China is developing the capability to put as many as 10 nuclear warheads on an intercontinental ballistic missile. That capability would give China a much larger nuclear arsenal than previously believed, he said.

Wortzel also told the Times China has tested submarine-launched missiles in recent weeks, which it could use to outflank American missile detection systems.

The U.S. and its Asian allies, especially Japan, have grown uneasy over China's increasingly aggressive claims on several islands and bodies of water. In recent months, China's claims have led to high-profile disputes with Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that the U.S. and Japan are discussing adding an early-warning missile radar system on a southern Japanese island. The U.S. currently has one such system in northern Japan as well as Patriot missile batteries based in Japan and South Korea.

The U.S. said the proposed missile defense system would be aimed at countering the threat from North Korea, which launched a long-range missile in April that immediately failed, rather than at China.

Beijing, however, believes the U.S. efforts are aimed at containing its military buildup. “We have again and again said that we will not be the first country to use nuclear force,” Sun Zhe, a professor of international relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing, told the Times. “We need to be able to defend ourselves, and our main threat, I’m afraid, comes from the United States.”

Source: The New York Times 

A Chinese Dongfeng missile is transported by railway in March 2008.


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