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The People's Republic of China is estimated by the U.S. Government to have an arsenal of about 150 nuclear weapons as of 1999. Some sources suggest that China might have as many as 2000 nuclear warheads, but other sources estimate as low as 80. These various estimates are questionable because the Chinese government releases little information regarding its nuclear weapons other than stating that China possesses the smallest nuclear arsenal amongst the five major nuclear-weapon states.

China's first nuclear tests took place in 1964, continuing until 1996 when it signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). China denies having either biological or chemical weapons, having acceded to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) in 1984, and ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in 1996.

Biological weaponsEdit

Biological weapons programEdit

Chinese officials have stated that China has never engaged in biological activities with offensive military applications.

Chemical weaponsEdit

China signed the CWC (Chemical Weapons Convention) in January 13, 1993. The CWC was ratified April 25, 1997. [1]

Nuclear weaponsEdit

File:596 nuclear test.jpg

Template:Nuclear weapons China is one of the five "nuclear weapons states" (NWS) under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which China ratified in 1992. China is the only NWS to give an unqualified security assurance to non-nuclear-weapon states:

"China undertakes not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones at any time or under any circumstances." [2]

Because of strict secrecy it is very difficult to determine the exact size and composition of China's nuclear forces. Several declassified U.S. government reports give historical estimates. The 1984 Defense Intelligence Agency's Defense Estimative Brief estimates the Chinese nuclear stockpile as consisting of between 150 and 160 warheads [3]. A 1993 National Security Council report estimated that China's nuclear deterrent force relied on 60 to 70 nuclear armed ballistic missiles [4]. The Defense Intelligence Agency's The Decades Ahead: 1999 - 2020 report estimates the 1999 Nuclear Weapons' Inventory as between 140 and 157 [5]. In 2004 the U.S. Department of Defense assessed that China had about 20 intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of targeting the United States [6]. In 2006 a U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency estimate presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee was that "China currently has more than 100 nuclear warheads." [7]

China's first test of a nuclear device took place on October 16, 1964, at the Lop Nur test site. China's last nuclear test was on July 29, 1996. According to the Australian Geological Survey Organization in Canberra, the yield of the 1996 test was 1-5 kilotons. This was China's 22nd underground test and 45th test overall.

China has made significant improvements in its miniaturization techniques since the 1980s. There have been accusations, notably by the Cox Commission, that this was done primarily by covertly acquiring the U.S.'s W70 nuclear warhead design as well as guidance ballistic missile technology. Chinese scientists have stated that they have made advances in these areas, but insist that these advances were made without espionage.

Although the total number of nuclear weapons in the Chinese arsenal is unknown, as of 2005 the various estimates vary from as low as 80 to as high as 2000. In 2004, China stated "among the nuclear-weapon states, China...possesses the smallest nuclear arsenal," implying China has fewer than the United Kingdom's 200 nuclear weapons.[8]. Several non-official sources estimate that China has around 400 nuclear warheads. However U.S. intelligence estimates suggest a much smaller nuclear force than many non-governmental organizations. [9]

The following is an estimate of China's nuclear forces.

Land-based intercontinental ballistic missilesEdit

Although unconfirmed, most Western analysts believe China has deployed anywhere from 18 to 36 Dongfeng 5 ("East Wind") intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) since the 1980s. The Dongfeng 5 is a single-warhead, three-stage, liquid-fueled missile with a range of 12,000-15,000 km. In 2000, General Eugene Habiger of the U.S. Air Force, then-commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, testified before Congress that China has 18 silo-based DF-5s. [10] Since the early 21st century, the Second Artillery Corps have also deployed 12+ Solid-fueled mobile DF-31 ICBM with a range of 8,000-10,000km and up to 3 MIRV[11]. China is also developing the DF-41, an intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of 10,000-13,000 km and an estimated 3-6 multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) capability. The U.S. Department of Defense assessed in 2004 that the DF-41 would be deployed sometime before 2020. However, due to the lessening of political tensions, the DF-41 development may have been postponed or even completely ceased development.

Sea-based weaponsEdit

The submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) stockpile of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is thought to be relatively new. China launched its first second-generation nuclear submarine in April 1981. The navy currently has a 1 Type 092 Xia class SSBN at roughly 8000 tons displacement. A second Type 092 was reportedly lost in an accident in 1985. The Type 092 is equipped with 12 JL-1 SLBMs with a range of 2150-2500 km. The JL-1 is a modified DF-21 missile.

The Chinese navy is developing the Type 094 ballistic missile submarine, it is reported at least 1 of these have been completed. This submarine will be capable of carrying 16 of the longer ranged, more modern JL-2s with a range of approximately 8000 km.

Heavy bomber groupEdit

File:Xian JH-7 1.jpg

China's bomber force is mostly comprised of Chinese-made versions of Soviet aircraft. The People's Liberation Army Air Force currently has 120 H-6s (a variant of the Tupolev Tu-16). These bombers are outfitted to carry nuclear as well as conventional weapons. The Chinese have also produced the Xian JH-7 Flying Leopard fighter-bomber (currently about 80 are in service) capable of delivering a nuclear strike. China has also bought the more advanced Sukhoi Su-30 from Russia; currently, about 100 Su-30s (MKK and MK2 variants) have been purchased by China. The Su-30 is capable of carrying tactical nuclear weapons.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

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