Pentagon tracks China test of long-range missile with 10 warheads

by WorldTribune Staff, January 31, 2017

U.S. officials said China’s recent test of a long-range missile with 10 warheads indicates Beijing is intent on increasing its nuclear arsenal.

“The flight test of the DF-5C missile was carried out earlier this month using 10 multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles, or MIRVs,” the Washington Free Beacon reported on Jan. 31.

Chinese state television channel CCTV-4’s broadcast included a graphic of a 10-warhead MIRV bus for the DF-41.

The missile was fired from the Taiyuan Space Launch Center in central China and flew to an impact range in the western Chinese desert, the report said.

“The [Defense Department] routinely monitors Chinese military developments and accounts for PLA capabilities in our defense plans,” Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Gary Ross told the Free Beacon.

The new commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, Air Force Gen. John Hyten, said during a Senate confirmation hearing in September that he is concerned about China’s growing nuclear arsenal.

“I am fully aware that China continues to modernize its nuclear missile force and is striving for a secure second-strike capability,” Hyten told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“Although it continues to profess a ‘no first use’ doctrine, China is re-engineering its long-range ballistic missiles to carry multiple nuclear warheads and continues to develop and test hyper-glide vehicle technologies,” Hyten added.

“These developments — coupled with a lack of transparency on nuclear issues such as force disposition and size — may impact regional and strategic stability and are cause for continued vigilance and concern.”

China is said to have around 250 warheads in its arsenal, a low number compared to the U.S. and Russia.

Under the 2010 U.S.-Russian arms treaty, the United States is scheduled to reduce its nuclear arsenal to 1,550 deployed warheads. An increase in the Chinese nuclear arsenal to 800 or 1,000 warheads likely would prompt the Pentagon to increase the U.S. nuclear warhead arsenal by taking weapons out of storage.

Chinese state television channel CCTV-4 last week featured the country’s nuclear threats in a broadcast that included graphics showing new DF-41 missiles deployed in northern China and graphics showing the missiles’ strike path into the United States. The Jan. 25 broadcast included a graphic of a 10-warhead MIRV bus for the DF-41. China tested the DF-41 in April 2016.

The Chinese Communist Party propaganda newspaper Global Times said on Jan. 24 that China’s strategic forces “must be so strong that no country would dare launch a military showdown.”

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

The same state-run organ criticized President Donald Trump in an article on Dec. 8 and said China should use its wealth “to build more strategic nuclear arms and accelerate the deployment of the DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile.”

“We need to get better prepared militarily regarding the Taiwan question to ensure that those who advocate Taiwan’s independence will be punished, and take precautions in case of U.S. provocations in the South China Sea,” the newspaper said.