China’s military has the world’s “most active and diverse ballistic missile program,” with an expanding inventory of nuclear warheads that can reach the US, according to a Pentagon intelligence report.
The arsenal includes a new submarine-launched JL-2 ballistic missile that will “for the first time allow Chinese” submarines “to target portions of the United States from operating areas located near the Chinese coast,” according to the new assessment by the National Air and Space Intelligence Centre.
China is expanding its missile programs as the Pentagon pursues a policy of putting more emphasis on US forces in the Asia-Pacific region. Some of China’s weapons are “specifically designed to prevent adversary military forces’s access to regional conflicts,” according to the report.
China is “developing and testing offensive missiles, forming additional missile units, qualitatively upgrading missile systems and developing methods to counter ballistic missile defences,” according to the Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat Assessment report,an update to one released in 2009.
“China can already target the United States with a relatively small force” of intercontinental ballistic missiles and the number of nuclear warheads “capable of reaching the United States could expand to well over 100 within the next 15 years,” it said.
The conclusions on China are part of a report that surveys world developments in ballistic-missile technology and trends, including in North Korea, Iran, India and Pakistan.
The National Air and Space Intelligence Centre, at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, is the Pentagon’s top provider of aerospace intelligence.
The report repeats the intelligence community’s long-standing assessment that Iran could develop and test an ICBM capable of hitting the US by 2015.
It also recounts Iran’s recent history of missile launches and modification of the Shahab-3 medium range missile that’s capable of reaching Israel.
“Iran has ambitious ballistic and space-launch development programs and continues to attempt to increase the range, lethality and accuracy” of its missile force, it said.
Iranian military units “continue to train extensively in highly publicised exercises” that enable these forces to “hone wartime operational skills and evolve new tactics,” the report said.
Iran also is fielding “increased numbers of theatre ballistic missiles, improving its existing inventory and is developing the technical capability to produce an ICBM,” it said.
North Korea, the report said, recently unveiled the new, road-mobile Hwasong-13 ICBM and continues to develop the Taepo Dong-2 “which could reach the United States if developed as an ICBM.”
The nation also maintains a large inventory of short-range missiles and is developing an intermediate-range weapon, said the report.
Both the Hwasong-13 and Taepo Dong-2 have maximum ranges of at least 5500 kilometres (3420 miles).
“Continued efforts to develop the TD-2 and the newly unveiled ICBM show the determination of North Korea to achieve long-range ballistic missile and space launch capabilities,” it said. “North Korea has exported ballistic missile systems and will probably continue to do so,” it said.
source: the age