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Pentagon’s 2011 China Report: Reducing Nuclear Transparency

The Pentagon’s new report on China’s military forces significantly reduces transparency of China’s missile force by eliminating specific missile numbers previously included in the annual overview.

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By Hans M. Kristensen

The Pentagon has published its annual assessment of China’s military power (the official title is Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China). I will leave it to others to review the conclusions on China’s general military forces and focus here on the nuclear aspects. Continue Reading →

Chinese Jin-SSBNs Getting Ready?

Two of China’s new Jin-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines were photographed at Xiaopingdao in late-March 2011, possibly in preparation for missile test launches. (Click for larger picture).

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By Hans M. Kristensen

Two of China’s new Jin-class nuclear ballistic missile submarines have sailed to the Xiaopingdao naval base near Dalian, a naval base used to outfit submarines for ballistic missile flight tests.

The arrival raises the obvious question if the Jin-class is finally reaching a point of operational readiness where it can do what it was designed for: launching nuclear long-range ballistic missiles.

The Pentagon reported a year ago that development of the missile – known as the Julang-2 (JL-2) – had run into developmental problems and failed its final test launches. Continue Reading →

Chinese Nuclear Forces 2010

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By Hans M. Kristensen

It’s interesting scary what you can find on the Internet: On Thursday, a Canadian calling himself SinoSoldier posted a report on the Pakistani web site Pakistan Defense claiming that China had test launched a JL-3 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) from a submarine in the Atlantic (!). Different versions allegedly have ranges from 12,000 km to 20,000 km and carry 5-7 warheads as opposed to 10 on the JL-2 SLBM. The source was said to be a report in the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun.

Click image to download

I haven’t been able to find the original story, but the report in Pakistan Defense is completely wrong: China does not have a JL-3 missile; it does not have a Type 096 submarine; it has never operated a submarine in the Atlantic; its two types of SLBMs (JL-1 and JL-2) have ranges of 1,770 km and 7,200 km, respectively; and they are only equipped with one warhead each.

The flaws in the report unfortunately did not prevent it from being picked up by Undersea Enterprise News Daily, an email newsletter distributed by the U.S. Atlantic submarine fleet headquarters.

Instead, check out our latest Nuclear Notebook on Chinese nuclear forces, just published for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists by Sage Publications: Chinese Nuclear Forces, 2010 (pdf version)

This publication was made possible by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York and Ploughshares Fund. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.

DF-21C Missile Deploys to Central China

China’s new DF-21C missile launcher shows itself in Western China.    Image: GoogleEarth

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By Hans M. Kristensen

The latest Pentagon report on Chinese military forces recently triggered sensational headlines in the Indian news media that China had deployed new nuclear missiles close to the Indian border.

The news reports got it wrong, but new commercial satellite images reveal that launch units for the new DF-21C missile have deployed to central-western China. Continue Reading →

China’s Bulava?

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By Hans M. Kristensen

Similar to Russia’s troubled Bulava sea-launched ballistic missile, the Pentagon’s latest report on China’s military power reveals that Chinese efforts to develop a new sea-based nuclear missile have run into problems.

Other nuclear force developments described in the Pentagon’s delayed annual report on China’s military power, now renamed Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China, include a slow deployment of new land-based mobile missiles and nuclear command and control challenges.   Continue Reading →

United States Discloses Size of Nuclear Weapons Stockpile

The Obama administration has declassified the history and size of the U.S. nuclear weapons
stockpile, a long-held national secret. Click image to get the fact sheet.


By Hans M. Kristensen

The Obama administration has formally disclosed the size of the Defense Department’s stockpile of nuclear weapons: 5,113 warheads as of September 30, 2009.

For a national secret, we’re pleased that the stockpile number is only 87 warheads off the estimate we made in February 2009. By now, the stockpile is probably down to just above 5,000 warheads. Continue Reading →

Jin SSBN Flashes its Tubes

One of China’s two Jin-class SSBNs with two open missile tubes. Click for larger image.

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By Hans M. Kristensen

One of China’s two new Jin-class SSBNs was photographed with two of its 12 missile tubes open when it visited Xiaopingdao Naval Base in March 2009.

The Jins are being readied to carry the JL-2, a single-warhead regional sea-launched ballistic missile that was most recently test-launched in May 2008. The class may become operational soon and replace the old Xia from 1982. Continue Reading →

Estimated Nuclear Weapons Locations 2009

Some 23,300 nuclear weapons are stored at 111 locations around the world (click for map)

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By Hans M. Kristensen

The world’s approximately 23,300 nuclear weapons are stored at an estimated 111 locations in 14 countries, according to an overview produced by FAS and NRDC.

Nearly half of the weapons are operationally deployed with delivery systems capable of launching on short notice.

The overview is published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and includes the July 2009 START memorandum of understanding data. A previous version was included in the annual report from the International Panel of Fissile Materials published last month. Continue Reading →

China’s Noisy Nuclear Submarines

China’s newest nuclear submarines are noisier than 1970s-era Soviet nuclear submarines.

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By Hans M. Kristensen

China’s new Jin-class ballistic missile submarine is noisier than the Russian Delta III-class submarines built more than 30 years ago, according to a report produced by the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI).

The report The People’s Liberation Army Navy: A Modern Navy With Chinese Characteristics, which was first posted on the FAS Secrecy News Blog and has since been removed from the ONI web site [but now back here; thanks Bruce], is to my knowledge the first official description made public of Chinese and Russian modern nuclear submarine noise levels. Continue Reading →