Why Trump Will Let China Handle North Korea

Last Thursday, NBC News issued an anonymously sourced report claiming that the Trump administration was poised to carry out a preemptive strike against North Korea if Pyongyang conducted another nuclear test, as many expected would happen in the next few days.

Luckily, it seems the report was wrong — defense and intelligence officials aggressively downplayed the possibility of a preemptive strike, calling the report “wildly wrong,” “crazy,” and “extremely dangerous,” according to Fox News’s Jennifer Griffin.

But while the report was wrong, the idea wasn’t out of the realm of possibility — indeed, during his March trip to Asia, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson refused to rule out a preemptive strike against North Korea, telling reporters, “If they elevate the threat of their weapons programs to a level that we believe requires action, that option is on the table.”

This all raises a troubling question: What would happen if the US really decided to do it?

I spoke with Jonathan Pollack, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who specializes in US strategy in Asia and the Pacific, to gain a better sense of how it would work. He’s skeptical that the US would ever carry out a preemptive strike except in the most dire circumstances — he believes North Korea would have to be on the cusp of either actually using nuclear weapons in an attack or taking other steps that would pose a very serious threat to South Korean, Japanese, or US forces. But he said that if it ever happened, one thing is clear: It would likely spark a war that would wreak havoc in the region and visit destruction on millions of innocents.

What follows is a transcript of our conversation, lightly edited for length and clarity.

Zeeshan Aleem

What would the US actually target in the case of a preemptive strike?

Jonathan Pollack

The implication is we would target their [nuclear] test site, we would target every other location we presume they might have nuclear materials or nuclear weapons hidden — and North Korea, lord knows, has lots of mountains and caves. Many would presume that we would [target] the top leadership if you could locate them and know where they are, and a lot of what they do is underground.

If you’re in an all-bets-are-off scenario, then you’re going to utilize every capability that you have, you’re going to mobilize every warplane. If North Korea is about to embark on something that is so extreme and so dire that it must be prevented at all costs, you must: 1) do so by whatever means you have [to] prevent that attack from occurring, and 2) deny North Korea any plausible means to retaliate for the attack that would be initiated against them. Those two are very tall orders.

You can get lots of targets — North Korea has more than a million men under arms, they’ve got tunnel complexes, nuclear sites. Could we throw everything but the kitchen sink at it? I guess.

But this is also analyzed to death, and when we look at it, we come to the same conclusion every time: We would “win a war,” but the price our allies [would pay] far exceeds whatever the gains would be. This is why they call [North] Korea “the land of no good options.”

Zeeshan Aleem

What would the North Korean response be?

Jonathan Pollack

If, for sake of argument, the US decides to embark on a preemptive attack — which I do not in any way, shape, or form endorse or anticipate — then we had better get ready for a very big war.

If you go in and think you’re just going to do the equivalent of a “surgical strike” — we’re just going to take out their testing site — and assume that nothing else bad is going to happen, that’s very bad planning.

It would be a very big war. It would have to be, if you want to prevent something really, really bad from happening as a consequence of your initiating a war, given the kinds of capability that North Korea demonstrably has — hundreds of missiles, thousands of artillery pieces, nuclear weapons, special forces, you name it.

Zeeshan Aleem

What could happen to Japan and South Korea?

Jonathan Pollack

The risk would be that Japan would be the only country in the history of civilization to have been attacked yet again with a nuclear weapon. You would see devastation of all kinds directed against South Korea. You could assume, for example — and you don’t even need nuclear weapons to do it — direct attacks on South Korea’s nuclear reactor complex. South Korea has one of the most developed nuclear energy components of any country in the world.

You’re talking about Seoul, a city which, including its environs, is more than 20 million people that is within artillery range of North Korea. You’re quite possibly talking about use of chemical weapons. The North is very serious about war. They plan for war, they train for war, they have huge armed forces. And under circumstances of a direct attack by the US on their territory, I don’t think they would have a lot of incentives for restraint.

Zeeshan Aleem

Pyongyang can fire nuclear warheads that would reach Japan?

Jonathan Pollack

That’s one of the great debates — whether they’ve miniaturized a warhead sufficiently to be able to put it atop a missile and reach targets in Japan and maybe beyond. And a lot of Americans are very seized by the idea that North Korea plans an intercontinental ballistic missile, but the reality is their threat right now, whatever capabilities they do have of this sort, they’re regional; they’re not intercontinental.

That’s worrisome enough to me at least, and to many others. But it’s a very hard thing to prove. North Korea would like us to believe they have these capabilities, but they have never tested a nuclear weapon on a missile. That’s an international norm they have yet to violate.

But an argument in many circles is that that’s not a risk you can take lightly — you have to make assumptions as if they have that kind of capability.

Zeeshan Aleem

And how would China and Russia feel about a preemptive attack?

Jonathan Pollack

China has a 1,400-kilometer shared border with North Korea, and you have ethnic Koreans living in northeastern China. Russia’s border with North Korea is tiny, but they have interests of their own as well. Both Russia and China would see this as a profound failure of the [nuclear] nonproliferation system if the US is prepared, by definition of its own interests, to undertake these kinds of attacks in the face of opposition from just about everybody else, to do it unilaterally.

Zeeshan Aleem

So I’m pretty sure you think a preemptive strike wouldn’t be a good idea.

Jonathan Pollack

I understand that some people see North Korea as such an inherent danger that we can’t rule out them doing something so extreme that we have to therefore act before they act. And I don’t trivialize the North: These are people who are heavily armed, they put enormous resources into these programs, and the consequences for their own people — their livelihood, their well-being — are pretty substantial.

But a lot of it boils down to whether or not you believe that a nuclear weapon would be a usable capability. If I’m just reacting to what the North Koreans say — and I’m not saying I therefore accept it — most of their arguments are that they’re claiming these nuclear weapons are for deterrence — in essence, the same thing we say all the time.

A lot of people wouldn’t believe that; they look at the government’s cruelty toward its own citizens, they look at it assassinating a family member in a foreign airport, they look to when North Korea shot down a South Korean aircraft trying to prevent the Olympics from going to Seoul in 1988. The argument would go [that] there’s no lengths to which these guys won’t go if presented the opportunity.

So first things first, you have to make clear to them, and I think we do make clear to them, that if they cross a range of thresholds, they will have destruction heaped upon them on a scale that is unimaginable. We can only hope that that really keeps them in the box they are in, because the box is one of their own making, frankly.

I readily accept that this does not come cheaply, but I don’t know that we or anyone else has alternatives. Some people would say you could negotiate with them, and that’s tried from time to time, but I’m also familiar enough with what they expect from that process, and it’s not a price that any American president would be prepared to pay.

Zeeshan Aleem

You say there are no good options. What’s the least worst option for handling North Korea?

Jonathan Pollack

The least worst options are what we’re doing. Number one, we are reinforcing our military presence on the peninsula and the surrounding areas to make it abundantly clear that we will respond to anything severe that North Korea undertakes.

Not that I’m a huge believer in missile defense, but we’re augmenting those kind of capabilities like THAAD with the hopes that, in the unlikely event that North Korea would use missiles against the South, you shoot them down before they hit South Korean or Japanese territory.

Number two, give absolute assurance to your Korean and Japanese allies that we’re going to be with them through thick and thin, that we won’t cut side deals that will disadvantage them. They’ve got to know that — if they don’t know that, what you’re going to see is a sentiment over time, in both Korea and Japan, that says, “You know, maybe we really can’t rely on the US; maybe we need some of these weapons of our own.”

Number three, we have to work as closely as we possibly can with China in particular to work toward more of a coordinated strategy. The game we have played with China, and that China plays with us, is that we always tell China, “You could bring these guys to heel; if you really, really wanted to do it, you could.” The Chinese will say, “You Americans, you’re the threat to them,” and so on. We blame one another — that creates running room for North Korea.

The US and China have compelling shared interests — neither China nor the US wants to see in perpetuity a nuclear-armed North Korea. And the other core shared conviction of the US and China is that we don’t want another Korean War on the peninsula; it would be a disaster of unimaginable proportions.

We have to be prepared that this is going to be a longer-term effort to constrict what North Korea does, to make life as difficult as we can for them, to deny them external economic opportunities, to not legitimate in any way the nuclear weapons they possess. All of this is going to be tough and demanding and long term.

Obama’s US Policy is History (Ezekiel 17)

US sends message to North Korea, China with Syria strike

Agencies

The US missile strike on Syria contained a clear message for North Korea and its main ally China, but not one strong enough to push Pyongyang off its nuclear weapons path, analysts said Saturday.

While the timing was largely coincidental, the fact that US President DonaldTrump ordered the strike while hosting a summit with Chinese leader Xi Jinping carried particular resonance given that the North’s nuclear ambitions — and how best to thwart them — was among the top agenda items of their meeting.

And exercising the military option added some extra weight to Trump’s recent threat of unilateral action against Pyongyang if Beijing fails to help kerb its neighbour’s nuclear weapons programme.

Kim Yong-Hyun, a professor at Dongguk University said the strike against Syria was a statement of intent that was meant for a wide readership.

“It signals to Pyongyang that the US has a new sheriff in town who isn’t hesitant about pulling his gun from the holster,” Kim said.

But while the move might give the North pause, it is unlikely to deter a leadership that views nuclear weapons as the sole guarantee of its future survival.

“In the long term, US military actions overseas won’t help kerb the North’s nuclear pursuit,” Kim said.

Nuclear determination

The North has carried out five nuclear tests — two of them last year — and expert satellite imagery analysis suggests it could well be preparing for a sixth.

And Pyongyang has shown no sign of reining in a missile testing programme ultimately aimed at securing the capability to deliver a nuclear warhead to the continental United States.

If Thursday’s strike was a warning to other countries, it was one that Pyongyang, which regularly cites US hostility as the driving force behind its nuclear weapons development, is quite familiar with.

“Trump’s attack on Syria is unlikely to have any significant effect on a North Korea that is already well versed in the threat posed by the United States,” said Joel Wit, a senior fellow at the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University.

At the time of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the then North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il disappeared from public view for around six weeks — and was widely believed to have gone into hiding for fear of a US attack.

Chang Yong-Seok, a senior researcher at the Institute for Peace and Unification at Seoul National University, said Kim’s son, current leader Kim Jong-Un, had no reason to take such precautions. “Armed with nuclear weapons, he would hardly flinch at the attack in Syria,” Chang said.

As if to underline the point, North Korean state media released photos of a smiling Kim inspecting a mushroom farm.

Warning to China?

The question then arises as to what impact the US president’s willingness to exercise his military muscle may have on China’s thinking.

China is North Korea’s economic lifeline and as such enjoys more leverage over its maverick neighbour than any other country.

Like his predecessors in the White House, Trump wants China to do more to influence the North’s behaviour, but has gone further than others in threatening to go it alone if Beijing fails to step up to the plate.

In that context, the strike against Syria may resonate more firmly in Beijing than Pyongyang.

It’s a signal that Trump’s administration will not only talk, they will act”, said Wang Dong, Associate Professor and Director of the School of International Studies at Peking University.

While China has clearly lost patience with Pyongyang’s nuclear provocations, it is extremely wary of any response that might bring about North Korea’s collapse and chaos on its doorstep.

“From the Chinese point of view, there is still room to explore a path for a diplomatic solution”, Wang said.

Jia Qingguo, a professor of International Relations at Beijing University, said the North’s nuclear arsenal and highly sensitive geopolitical position meant the fallout of any military action could be catastrophic. “A small kick could provoke big disasters. It’s not like Iraq,” Jia said.

Although China’s state media went strong on photos and coverage of the Xi-Trump summit, it gave little space to news of the strikes against Syria, with few editorials or commentaries.

One exception was the nationalist-leaning Global Times which suggested that Trump’s “show of force” was rash and ill-considered.

“This was Trump’s first major move in international affairs, and it leaves an impression that the decision was made in haste and not without contradiction,” the newspaper said.

North Korea Will Not Be A Nuclear Horn

White House: ‘The clock has now run out’ on North Korean nuclear program

CNN Updated: 5:14 PM CDT Apr 4, 2017

By Jeremy Diamond

WASHINGTON (CNN) —
A senior White House official issued a dire warning to reporters Tuesday on the state of North Korea’s nuclear program, declaring “the clock has now run out and all options are on the table.”

“The clock has now run out, and all options are on the table,” the official said, pointing to the failure of successive administration’s efforts to negotiate an end to North Korea’s nuclear program.

The comments came as two senior White House officials briefed reporters ahead of President Donald Trump’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping later this week in Florida. The briefing took place on the condition of anonymity.

The same White House official also said North Korea is a “matter of urgent interest for the President and the administration as a whole” and plans to urge China to exert leverage over North Korea to halt the advancement of its nuclear program.

The comments came two days after Trump warned in a recent Financial Times interview that the US would have to act unilaterally to stop North Korea’s nuclear program if China refuses to cooperate in the effort.

But earlier Tuesday, Gen. John Hyten, the commander of US Strategic Command, which oversees US nuclear weapons and missile defense forces, said that China was critical to solving the North Korea nuclear challenge.

“Any solution to the North Korean problem has to involve China,” Hyten told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

His comments come days after the publication of the Trump interview.

Hyten added that while he believed Beijing’s involvement was critical, he said that he will provide military options to the president to deal with the threat from North Korea.

“I’ll provide those military options. So that’s my job but I look at it from a strategic perspective and I can’t see a solution that doesn’t involve China.”

“China is the definition of North Korea’s backyard,” Hyten told the committee, saying that the close economic links between Pyongyang and Beijing made China a pivotal player in curbing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

“It’s hard for me to see a solution without China,” he added.

CNN’s Ryan Browne contributed to this report.

China Expands Its Nuclear Triad

China has built a nuclear submarine mass production superfactory

China’s Bohai Shipyard has built a new large-scale plant to mass produce nuclear submarines.

Western production lines for the most part can only build one submarine at a time, and only the US is capable of building two submarines simultaneously, but China is now capable of building four submarines at one time.

China already has at least four type 094/094A ballistic missile submarines and at least five Type 093/093G attack submarines, so it is speculated that the new facility is to build the successor third-generation classes of Type 096 ballistic missile submarines and Type 095 attack submarines. The new submarines will be built using modular fabrication techniques. The projection is made that Chinese nuclear submarine production will double its rate within two to three years.

China currently has about three submarine production lines and can build 5 to 6 submarines at one time. This would mean in three years China could be building ten to twelve submarines at one time.

The Type 096 submarine is a SSBN (nuclear ballistic missile submarine) being developed for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy Submarine Force. Official specifications are unknown. The Type 096 may carry 24 SLBMs, double the number carried by its predecessor, the Type 094. According to analysts, it could also feature a hull similar to Western SSBNs. As of January 2017, the Type 096 has yet to enter service.

The Type 095 submarine is a proposed class of third generation nuclear-powered attack submarines for the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) of China.

It is anticipated that Type 095 submarines will have a substantially reduced acoustic signature, within an improved hull type and pump jet propulsion system. Compared to the Type 093, the Type 095 will have a more advanced nuclear reactor, VLS tubes and greater number of advanced sensors such as new active/passive flank array sonar and low and high frequency towed sonar array. Additionally, it is also speculated that Type 095 submarines may act as a potential undersea escort for any future PLAN aircraft carrier task forces.

China Has Been Arming The Pakistani Nuclear Horn

Former Chinese nuclear engineer: ‘We’ve been transferring nuclear technology to Pakistan’

After two nuclear tests last year and a new ballistic missile launch on Feb. 12, North Korea has invited fresh denunciation and economic sanctions from the international community.

Even China has been concerned as Pyongyang’s development of nuclear weapons threatens Beijing’s ability to rein in its capricious ally.

In past years, the assistance North Korea received from Pakistan in developing its nuclear weapons has been well-publicized. In the 2005 article “New Players on the Scene: A.Q. Khan and the Nuclear Black Market,” U.S. Air Force Col. Charles D. Lutes revealed the role Islamabad played in spreading nuclear technology to North Korea and Iran.

Now, insider sources in China have indicated it was Beijing that indirectly supplied North Korea by aiding Pakistan’s development of nuclear technology and gifting it critical raw materials.

According to Huang Huiping, a former researcher at the China Institute of Atomic Energy, “In the 1980s, one of the CIAE’s tasks was to transfer our nuclear technologies to other countries, including Pakistan. They sent people to China to study nuclear engineering, and China (including our Institute) also sent specialists to Pakistan to assist in their nuclear technology.”

In 2009, the Washington Post cited Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist, as saying that in 1982, China “had gifted us 50 kg [kilograms] of weapon-grade enriched uranium, enough for two weapons.”

China joined the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons in 1992. Pakistan conducted its first successful nuclear weapons test in 1998, becoming the seventh country to explode a nuclear bomb. But it still lacked the rocket technology needed to deliver its nuclear weapons. And in 2000, China pledged that it would not assist any country in developing ballistic missiles.

But Chinese aid to Pakistan continued, and Huang Huiping entertained private doubts.

Because China and India don’t get along, China assists Pakistan [in its nuclear weapons program] to oppose India,” she told NTD Television in a phone interview. “Having witnessed such irresponsible acts, I began to seriously question whether these advanced technologies would bring benefit or catastrophe to humanity.”

From Islamabad to the Kim dynasty

Pakistani nuclear arms and technology, aided by China, has ended up in North Korean hands via the black market and through Chinese corporations associated with the Communist Party.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Justice announced charges against a northeastern Chinese company called Dandong Hongxiang Industrial Development for supplying North Korea with alloys necessary for uranium enrichment. The company’s head, a female government official and Party member, was arrested and placed under investigation in the fallout of this incident.

Another example: in September 2001, the United States imposed sanctions on the state-owned China Metallurgical Equipment Corporation (MECC) for selling missile parts to Pakistan. This caused a political scandal that Beijing moved to correct.

According to economics expert Yang Jianli, a pro-democracy dissident who founded Initiatives for China, the Chinese regime sentenced five people involved in the sale of key metallurgical technologies to Pakistan. In 2002, Yang himself had been detained by the Ministry of State Security while investigating a surge in unemployment in Northeast China.

Yang’s cellmate happened to be one of the five MECC officials convicted in the face of U.S. pressure.

“He told me he felt wronged,” Yang Jianli told NTD Television. “He was following orders by the Chinese government to sell those technologies. They said the State Council and the Central government had official approved the documents.”

But when the MECC official became a scapegoat, he was coerced to plead guilty to the charges under threat that he would be investigated for corruption instead. “In the end, the five of them were convicted on multiple charges and given eight-to-ten-year sentences,” Yang said.

China Preparing For Nuclear War

Report: Chinese PLA “Making Preparations” For War With U.S.

Beijing responds to USS Vinson patrolling South China Sea

An op-ed for the Global Times, which is widely regarded as the voice of the Chinese government, references U.S. intelligence assessments that China has “nearly finished building almost two dozen military structures on artificial islands in the South China Sea” in order to deploy long-range surface-to-air missiles.

The article also highlights comments by Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, commander of US 7th Fleet, that the United States is unequivocally “prepared to fight if necessary,” questioning why the U.S. is making “direct military threats” against China.

However, those threats are returned in kind, with Beijing insisting that it will accelerate its military build-up if U.S. officials keep making “condescending” comments.

“If the US military insists on showing that it is capable of taming the China Dragon, they are bound to see all kinds of advanced Chinese weapons as well as other military deployments on the islands,” states the piece.

“US generals said they are ready to fight when necessary. The People’s Liberation Army is also making preparations.”

Earlier today Chinese officials also made it clear that they oppose the deployment of the USS Vinson, asserting that the ship was in the region to conduct surveillance.

Last month, Beijing reacted to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comments that the Obama administration had been weak on allowing China to expand operations in the South China Sea by claiming his comments could lead to a “military clash”.

*********************

Paul Joseph Watson is the editor at large of Infowars.com and Prison Planet.com.

The China Nuclear Horn Grows (Daniel 7)

China Boosting Nuclear Capabilities, Narrowing Gap With US, Russia

Sputnik

There appear to be more and more reasons to expect China to make a spectacular breakthrough in the field of nuclear weapons development, Russian military expert Vasily Kashin told Sputnik, adding that this could lead to radical changes in the ongoing geopolitical game over Asia-Pacific.

On January 31 Bill Gertz, a senior editor of the Washington Free Beacon, reported that Beijing had flight tested “a new variant of a long-range missile with 10 warheads,” dubbing it a “dramatic shift in Beijing’s strategic nuclear posture.”

“The flight test of the DF-5C missile was carried out earlier this month using 10 multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles, or MIRVs,” he wrote, citing US defense officials.

According to the journalist, the Dongfeng-5C intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) was fired from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center (TSLC) in Shanxi Province, and flew to a desert in western China.

“The test of a missile with 10 warheads is significant because it indicates the secretive Chinese military is increasing the number of warheads in its arsenal,” the article reads, warning that a boost in the Chinese nuclear arsenal could prompt the Pentagon to join the race.

The journalist suggested that the test could have been carried out as response to growing tensions between Beijing and Washington.

However, Catherine Wong of South China Morning Post argues that the assumption that the test would have been aimed at US President Donald Trump, known for his tough rhetoric toward China, is unfounded.

She quoted a Chinese military expert from an institute affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) who explained that the flight test “is not a random decision to be made just because Trump is now in office.”

The test of a nuclear missile requires permission from the highest level — the Central Military Commission. It takes at least one year for the military to get the approval and to prepare for it,” the expert said, as quoted by Wong.

Back in February 2016 in his article for The Washington Times, Gertz reported that China’s military had begun upgrading their DF-5 missiles with multiple warheads (MIRVs), referring to data obtained by US intelligence services.

Speaking to Sputnik, Kashin underscored that these reports indicate that the PLA is unlikely to replace the DF-5C with its brand new Dongfeng-41 (DF-41) nuclear solid-fueled road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), as had previously been expected.

“The DF-5’s strengths are obvious. This is a powerful liquid-fuel missile which weighs 183 tons. Its energy potential is so great that it [led to China] creating a family of space launch vehicles based [upon this missile]. It is capable of delivering a powerful front section with ten warheads and the means of overcoming ballistic missile defenses to the US,” Kashin said.

On the other hand, however, this missile is not mobile and is fired from tunnels and silos, he noted. It also requires from 30-60 minutes to two hours to launch the rocket. Given a limited number of launches, these missiles could be destroyed by a preemptive strike.

“Now the situation has changed,” Kashin noted, “First of all, the DF-5 is no longer the only Chinese carrier of nuclear weapons that could reach US territory. The DF-31 and DF-41 also pose a challenge. Second, China is creating its own ballistic missile early warning system (BMEWS) and strategic missile defense (MD) system.”

According to Kashin, the deployment of the BMEWS and MD systems could enable Beijing to use these missiles for conducting a counter-preemptive strike against a hypothetical enemy.

The Russian military analyst assumed that Beijing could increase the production of the DF-5 given the fact that they are cheaper to produce and has a longer service than the DF-41.

“Thus, it appears that there are reasons to expect China to make a spectacular breakthrough that in coming years it will bring it closer to the US and Russia in terms of strategic nuclear capabilities. This will prompt radical changes in the rules of the game in the Asia-Pacific region,” Kashin stressed.

The Mighty China Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

China test-fires intercontinental missile with 10 nuclear warheads

BEIJING – China has reportedly tested a new version of a missile that can carry up to 10 nuclear warheads, which can bring a major shift in its nuclear capability.

The flight test of the Dongfeng-5C missile was carried out last month using 10 multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles, or MIRVs, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

The test of the inert warheads was monitored closely by US intelligence agencies, said two officials familiar with reports of the missile test.

The DF-5C missile, carrying 10 dummy warheads, was launched from the Taiyuan Space Launch Centre in Shanxi province, and flew to a desert in western China, the report said.

The missile is a new variant of the DF-5, an intercontinental ballistic missile that first went into service in the early 1980’s.

For decades, the US has put the estimated number of warheads in China’s nuclear arsenal at about 250. But the report suggested that the latest test with 10 warheads meant the actual number could be larger.

The timing of the test coincided with the election of Donald Trump as US President who signalled a tougher stance against China over a range of issues, from the trade deficit to Beijing’s military build-up in the disputed South China Sea.

Officials in Beijing have warned Trump against entering a confrontation, while some Chinese government media outlets have published a number of reports calling for strengthening the Chinese military to compensate for an increased perceived threat from the US.

Unlike China, the US has not pledged not to use nuclear weapons in a first strike, although the nuclear option is reserved for only dire circumstances in US military doctrine.

Just over two weeks ago, China launched a stealthy attack drone – Sharp Sword – that has two internal bomb bays and a likely payload of about 4,400 pounds.

The Sharp Sword is the first non-NATO stealthy unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV). Built by Aviation Industry Corporation of China, with much of the work done by the Hongdu Aviation Industry Group, the drone has a non-afterburning WS-13 turbofan engine, with serpentine inlet to hide the engine from enemy radars. It has a length of about 33 feet, and a wingspan of about 46 feet.

The Far Reach of China’s Nuclear Horn

 How Far China’s Nuclear Capabilities Stretch

Media Center, Image JANUARY 26, 2017 | 18:56 GMT 

China has had a nuclear missile capable of reaching the United States since the early 1980s, the Dongfeng-5, but it has issues that have recently limited its effectiveness as a deterrent. Its liquid fuel propellant means that it must undergo a lengthy fueling process before it can be launched, and its lack of mobility renders its silos vulnerable to strikes by increasingly accurate munitions. Those threats to its survivability reduce its value as a minimum credible deterrence. China needed to upgrade to a more survivable missile inventory given its historically smaller nuclear arsenal and no-first-use doctrine.

Development of the Dongfeng-41 — a solid-fuel nuclear-capable road-mobile system — is thought to have begun in the late 1980s, but the program was subject to multiple delays and pauses along the way. Other updates to China’s strategic arsenal were introduced in the meantime. The medium-range Dongfeng-21 ballistic missile was deployed in 1991, followed by the intercontinental Dongfeng-31 missile in 2006. With those deployments, the Chinese replaced many of their older, less capable and immobile missiles with solid-fueled mobile systems. The Dongfeng-31 in particular gave China the capability to strike all of India or Russia, but China continued to rely on the aging Dongfeng-5 to underpin its nuclear deterrence posture against the United States. It was the only missile in the Chinese arsenal with the range to reach the U.S. mainland. This gap was ameliorated somewhat with the introduction of the extended-range Dongfeng-31A, but its payload was considered insufficient, so the capability gap remained.

Chinese media reported Jan. 24 on the possible deployment of long-range Dongfeng-41 intercontinental ballistic missiles in northeastern China close to Russia, triggering speculation in Russian media about China’s intent. But since China has had the Dongfeng-31, a missile capable of reaching all of Russia, for more than a decade, Moscow does not consider the Dongfeng-41 to be an added threat. If anything, the recent deployment of the Dongfeng-41 near the Russian border actually increases the system’s vulnerability to a Russian strike, including from conventional weapons. Instead, its deployment is influenced by geography. Given the distances involved and the ballistic missile trajectory from China to the United States, Heilongjiang province is the ideal location to maximize the missile’s reach so it covers all of the continental United States. The Dongfeng-5 missiles have long been based in the same region for the same reasons.

China is in the middle of a campaign to expand both the scope and capabilities of its nuclear forces. But the nuances, deployments and developments of China’s entire nuclear arsenal must be kept in perspective when evaluating the deployment of its new intercontinental ballistic missiles. It is even more crucial to maintain a close watch on the effect Chinese nuclear weapons developments have on the rest of the world. Its evolving capabilities have the potential to increase competition with India, in turn affecting Pakistan’s nuclear growth. They could also complicate arms control dynamics between the United States and Russia.

The China Nuclear Horn Expands its Reach (Daniel 7)

China paper urges expanded nuclear arsenal in response to Trump

BEIJING – China must strengthen its nuclear arsenal to “force the U.S. to respect it” in response to the stance of new U.S. President Donald Trump, a leading newspaper said Tuesday.

The comments in the Global Times, a popular paper known for its inflammatory rhetoric and hawkish views, came just days after President Xi Jinping called for the eventual global elimination of atomic weapons.

In recent days, Chinese social media has carried pictures purporting to show an advanced intercontinental ballistic missile system deployed in the northeast.

The Dongfeng-41 is reportedly a nuclear road-mobile missile thought to have a payload of 10-12 warheads and a range of 14,000 km (8,700 miles), according to the Global Times.

The paper, a subsidiary of the Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily, plays to nationalist sentiment and is often believed to channel hard-line views within the government.

The Global Times said some media claimed the People’s Liberation Army leaked the photos as a warning to Trump.

“They think this is Beijing’s response to Trump’s provocative remarks on China,” it added.

The U.S. president, who took office Friday, has rattled Beijing with tough talk on trade and national security.

On Monday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer warned China the U.S. would “defend” American and international interests in the disputed South China Sea, where China has built a series of artificial islands capable of military use.

“If those islands are, in fact, in international waters and not part of China proper, yeah, we’ll make sure we defend international interests from being taken over by one country,” he said.

Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, said last week China’s access to the islands might be blocked — raising the prospect of a military confrontation.

China lays claim to a vast stretch of the waterway within a so-called nine-dash line, including waters claimed by several of its neighbors.

The Global Times said Trump had called repeatedly for a U.S. nuclear arms build-up.

“Even Washington feels that its naval forces and nuclear strength are lacking, so how can China be content with its current nuclear strength when it is viewed by the U.S. as its biggest potential opponent?” it asked.

The paper said China’s nuclear forces “must be so strong that no country would dare launch a military showdown” with it.

“China must procure a level of strategic military strength that will force the U.S. to respect it.”

The comments were in marked contrast to Xi’s speech at the U.N. days earlier.

“Nuclear weapons should be completely prohibited and destroyed over time to make the world free of nuclear weapons,” Xi said.

China has been a nuclear power since 1964.

The PLA has been flexing its muscles since Trump’s election, showing off upgraded combat aircraft and new fighters. The country’s only aircraft carrier entered the Taiwan Strait this month in a symbolic show of strength.

On Monday the PLA navy announced it had commissioned its fifth “carrier killer” guided-missile destroyer and delivered it to the North Sea Fleet.

The system is believed to be designed to deter the U.S. Navy, which has the world’s largest number of carriers.