China May Begin Naval Nuclear-Deterrence Patrols in 2014: Pentagon

A nuclear-powered submarine of the Chinese navy prepares to dive in this undated photo. The Pentagon on Thursday said China will probably start naval nuclear-deterrence patrols later this year.
National Journal
Rachel Oswald
Add to Briefcase
Rachel Oswald
June 5, 2014, 10:47 a.m.

China will prob­ably be­gin con­duct­ing nav­al nuc­le­ar-de­terrence patrols this year, the U.S. De­fense De­part­ment said on Thursday.

Beijing has nev­er be­fore had a cred­ible sub­mar­ine force that would give it the cap­ab­il­ity to launch sub­merged long-range nuc­le­ar mis­siles. The Asi­an power last year was of­fi­cially as­sessed to be field­ing three Type 094 Jin-class stra­tegic sub­mar­ines. However, a fleet com­pris­ing at least four nuc­le­ar-armed sub­mar­ines is gen­er­ally un­der­stood to be the min­im­um quant­ity ne­ces­sary for a coun­try to be able to main­tain around-the-clock de­terrence patrols.

In a con­gres­sion­ally man­dated an­nu­al re­port on the People’s Lib­er­a­tion Army, the Pentagon con­cludes “China is likely to con­duct its first nuc­le­ar de­terrence patrols with the JIN-class SSBN in 2014.”

The 87-page re­port notes the Chinese navy “places a high pri­or­ity on the mod­ern­iz­a­tion of its sub­mar­ine force.” The Pentagon es­tim­ates that China could ex­pand its Type 094 fleet to as many as eight ves­sels be­fore it starts con­struct­ing a next-gen­er­a­tion Type 096 ves­sel.

The Jin-class sub­mar­ines are un­der­stood to be armed with the new JL-2 long-range bal­list­ic mis­sile, which has an es­tim­ated range of nearly 4,600 miles. A Novem­ber 2013 re­port by a con­gres­sion­ally es­tab­lished com­mit­tee fore­cast that the JL-2 mis­sile could be put in­to ini­tial op­er­a­tion­al use be­fore the year was over.

The De­fense De­part­ment re­port does not of­fer a spe­cif­ic es­tim­ate of the cur­rent size of China’s nuc­le­ar ar­sen­al. In­de­pend­ent ex­perts have placed the num­ber at around 250 war­heads. The Pentagon does note, however, that China is ex­pand­ing the size of its mo­bile in­ter­con­tin­ent­al bal­list­ic mis­sile stock­pile with the ad­di­tion in re­cent years of the Dong­feng 31A mis­sile. A more cap­able ver­sion, the Dong­feng 41, is still be­ing de­veloped, ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ment.

The com­bin­a­tion of the ex­pec­ted start of nav­al nuc­le­ar-de­terrence patrols and the growth in its mo­bile ICBM ar­sen­al “will force the [People’s Lib­er­a­tion Army] to im­ple­ment more soph­ist­ic­ated com­mand-and-con­trol sys­tems and pro­cesses that safe­guard the in­teg­rity of nuc­le­ar re­lease au­thor­ity for a lar­ger, more dis­persed force,” the Pentagon says.

The de­part­ment re­port briefly touches on China’s de­vel­op­ment of coun­ter­meas­ures against U.S. bal­list­ic mis­sile de­fenses, which in­clude [mul­tiple in­de­pend­ent reentry vehicles], de­coys, chaff, jam­ming, and thermal shield­ing.”

Beijing pub­licly op­poses Wash­ing­ton’s ef­forts to build an in­teg­rated re­gion­al mis­sile shield with al­lies Ja­pan, South Korea and Aus­tralia. Chinese cy­ber hack­ers were re­por­ted last year to have stolen the designs of a num­ber of U.S. mis­sile de­fense sys­tems in use in East Asia. Ex­perts be­lieve the hacks were aimed at learn­ing how to bet­ter foil the an­ti­mis­sile tech­no­logy.

What We're Following See More »
STAKES ARE HIGH
Debate Could Sway One-Third of Voters
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

"A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 34% of registered voters think the three presidential debates would be extremely or quite important in helping them decide whom to support for president. About 11% of voters are considered 'debate persuadables'—that is, they think the debates are important and are either third-party voters or only loosely committed to either major-party candidate."

Source:
YOU DON’T BRING ME FLOWERS ANYMORE
Gennifer Flowers May Not Appear After All
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

Will he or won't he? That's the question surrounding Donald Trump and his on-again, off-again threats to bring onetime Bill Clinton paramour Gennifer Flowers to the debate as his guest. An assistant to flowers initially said she'd be there, but Trump campaign chief Kellyanne Conway "said on ABC’s 'This Week' that the Trump campaign had not invited Flowers to the debate, but she didn’t rule out the possibility of Flowers being in the audience."

Source:
HAS BEEN OFF OF NEWSCASTS FOR A WEEK
For First Debate, Holt Called on NBC Experts for Prep
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

NBC's Lester Holt hasn't hosted the "Nightly News" since Tuesday, as he's prepped for moderating the first presidential debate tonight—and the first of his career. He's called on a host of NBC talent to help him, namely NBC News and MSNBC chairman Andy Lack; NBC News president Deborah Turness; the news division's senior vice president of editorial, Janelle Rodriguez; "Nightly News" producer Sam Singal, "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd, senior political editor Mark Murray and political editor Carrie Dann. But during the debate itself, the only person in Holt's earpiece will be longtime debate producer Marty Slutsky.

Source:
WHITE HOUSE PROMISES VETO
House Votes to Bar Cash Payments to Iran
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The House passed legislation late Thursday that would prohibit the federal government from making any cash payments to Iran, in protest of President Obama's recently discovered decision to pay Iran $1.7 billion in cash in January. And while the White House has said Obama would veto the bill, 16 Democrats joined with Republicans to pass the measure, 254-163."

Source:
NO SURPRISE
Trump Eschewing Briefing Materials in Debate Prep
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shun­ning tra­di­tion­al de­bate pre­par­a­tions, but has been watch­ing video of…Clin­ton’s best and worst de­bate mo­ments, look­ing for her vul­ner­ab­il­it­ies.” Trump “has paid only curs­ory at­ten­tion to brief­ing ma­ter­i­als. He has re­fused to use lecterns in mock de­bate ses­sions des­pite the ur­ging of his ad­visers. He prefers spit­balling ideas with his team rather than hon­ing them in­to crisp, two-minute an­swers.”

Source:
×