The Chinese military is poised to send submarines armed with nuclear missiles into the Pacific Ocean for the first time – arguing that new US weapons systems have so undermined Beijing’s existing deterrent force that it has been left with no alternative.
Chinese military officials are not commenting on the timing of a maiden patrol – but insist the move is inevitable.
They point to plans unveiled in March to station the US Thaad anti-ballistic system in South Korea and the development of hypersonic glide missiles potentially capable of hitting China less than an hour after launch – as huge threats to the effectiveness of its land-based deterrent force.
A recent Pentagon report to Congress predicted that ‘China will probably conduct its first nuclear deterrence patrol sometime in 2016’ though top US officers have made such predictions before.
Until now Beijing has pursued a cautious deterrence policy – declaring it would never be the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict and storing its warheads and its missiles separately – both strictly under the control of the top leadership.
Deploying nuclear-armed submarines would have far-reaching implications.
Follow Phil on Twitter - Get Stories live
- comics (1,614)
- fact-checking that interwebby-thing.. (6)
- General (53,095)
- green things (10,031)
- guest columnists (35)
- health (13,039)
- humour (7,179)
- fake-tweets (101)
- international politics/culture/ stuff (66,332)
- music/ent/lit (20,825)
- op-ed (9,981)
- open mike (2)
- quotation of the day.. (4)
- reviews (12,493)
- saturday-nite-special.. (4)
- that's cool (1,623)
- things i say @ other places.. (3)
- vegan stuff (2,746)
- we recommend (3,648)
- whoar! (950)