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China on the move: New nuke threats

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Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, 8:57 p.m.
 

The Obama administration's determination to reduce the number of deployed U.S. nuclear warheads looks all the more foolish in light of China's drive to modernize and expand its nuclear arsenal.

This month brought the second flight test of China's new road-mobile Dong Feng-41 intercontinental ballistic missile. U.S. intelligence agencies expect the DF-41 to be able to carry up to 10 independently targetable warheads far enough to strike the United States. They worry that it's intended as a “first strike” weapon despite “China's professed nuclear doctrine of not being the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict,” The Washington Free Beacon reports.

If these new missiles are deployed with a reload missile for each launcher, each DF-41 unit could have 120 to 240 warheads, according to Rick Fisher, senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center. He says that makes the Obama administration's push to further reduce U.S. warheads “simply irrational.”

The DF-41, along with China's modernization of its submarine-launched nuclear missiles, must be viewed in the larger context of China's rising aggression — against Japan and the Philippines over island and maritime claims, and against the U.S. Navy, in a Dec. 5 South China Sea confrontation that forced an American guided missile cruiser to maneuver abruptly to avoid colliding with a Chinese tank landing ship.

With the Chinese threat increasing, this is no time to diminish America's nuclear deterrent.

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