Mar 26, 2006

U.S. nuclear primacy

One of the local Beijing newspapers caught my attention the other day. On the front page it showed a photo of a B-2 stealth bomber refueling in mid-flight. The article is in the Global Times (环球时报, 2006年3月24日) and the headline was "Can America destroy all of Russia's long range nuclear forces in one hit? Russia's fierce counterattack." (美国能一次性摧毁俄所有远程核力量?俄猛烈反击 ) The article is in response to the essay "The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy" in Foreign Affairs. The Chinese newspaper article includes Russia's counterarguments to the essay, and also omits the criticisms of the vulnerability of the Chinese nuclear program. In the interest of preserving Chinese national pride and the people's good vibes (为了保持中国人民的爱国感与和谐), the more pertinent quotes from the Foreign Affairs essay were left out of the Global Times article. These include:
" U.S. nuclear primacy grows, China's leaders may act more cautiously on issues such as Taiwan, realizing that their vulnerable nuclear forces will not deter U.S. intervention -- and that Chinese nuclear threats could invite a U.S. strike on Beijing's arsenal."

"China's nuclear arsenal is even more vulnerable to a U.S. attack. A U.S. first strike could succeed whether it was launched as a surprise or in the midst of a crisis during a Chinese alert."

"China's medium-range bomber force is similarly unimpressive: the bombers are obsolete and vulnerable to attack."

"...China's entire intercontinental nuclear arsenal consists of 18 stationary single-warhead ICBMs. These are not ready to launch on warning: their warheads are kept in storage and the missiles themselves are unfueled. (China's ICBMs use liquid fuel, which corrodes the missiles after 24 hours. Fueling them is estimated to take two hours.)"

"Given the history of China's slow-motion nuclear modernization, it is doubtful that a Chinese second-strike force will materialize anytime soon. The United States has a first-strike capability against China today and should be able to maintain it for a decade or more."
Maybe the Global Times reporter didn't read the whole essay so he never saw those points. I would find it very interesting to see how the Chinese would respond to each of the criticisms in the essay. The Global Times reporter should have mentioned whether or not the military weaknesses were depicted accurately and how they are being addressed.


Blogger Michael Lomker said...

I think that the economic symbiosis between the US and China will stave off any serious aggression from either side. I hope that we never have to see another nuclear weapon used in a war.

I do, however, support the development of tactical nuclear weapons. If such a weapon ever does have to be used, I'd much rather it be a small one against a military target rather than what happened in Japan.

7:20 AM  

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