Spokesman dismisses Beijing’s first nuclear missile sub patrols as ‘media hype’
China’s Defense Ministry confirmed on Thursday that its military recently conducted a test of a new rail-mobile ICBM capable of hitting any part of the United States with nuclear warheads.
Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Yang Yujun also did not dispute U.S. reports that its nuclear missile submarines began conducting sea patrols for the first time, giving China a potent new submarine-based strategic nuclear strike capability.
Yang also disclosed new details on China’s plans to build a second aircraft carrier, a vessel which is currently under construction at a northeastern coastal shipyard at Dalian.
On the test of a new multi-warhead DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), first reported by the Washington Free Beacon on Dec. 21, Yang was asked about U.S. intelligence agencies detecting the rail mobile ejection tube missile test and whether he could confirm it.
“Scientific tests within the Chinese territory are conducted according to plan,” he said, without elaborating.
The DF-41 missile is China’s newest and longest-range nuclear strike weapon, and has a range of up to 7,456 miles. The missile was flight tested on Dec. 4 in a separate test from the rail tube ejection test, which took place Dec. 5. Both tests were carried out at a missile launch complex in central China.
Defense Ministry press conferences are tightly controlled propaganda operations, with questions from Chinese reporters prepared in advance and answers carefully scripted and approved by China’s military propaganda department.
The comments by Yang on strategic weapons systems came during a year-end press conference and indicate China has shifted slightly from its past policy of refusing to disclose any details of its strategic nuclear forces over concerns that releasing information will undermine the forces’ deterrent value.
On the submarine patrols, Yang was asked to comment and said: “I think the report by foreign media is purely media hype.”
The Washington Times reported Dec. 9 that the U.S. Strategic Command had confirmed that Beijing has begun patrols of Jin-class nuclear missile submarines equipped with JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
“Given China’s known capabilities and their efforts to develop a sea-based deterrent, in absence of indicators to the contrary, it is prudent to assume that patrols are occurring,” said Navy Capt. Pamela S. Kunze, a Strategic Command spokeswoman, of the patrols.
The Pentagon has said the JL-2 gives China a significant nuclear attack capability.
In November 2013, a Communist Party-affiliated newspaper, Global Times, published a report showing the effect of JL-2 nuclear strikes on the western United States, estimating that attacks on Los Angeles and Seattle would kill up to 12 million Americans.
Confirmation that the DF-41 will be rail-based in addition to being deployed on road-mobile transporter-erector launchers also followed an unusually detailed state-run television report last week discussing the rail system, which will employ a dedicated track and tunnel system stretching across several thousand miles in central China.
Full article: Chinese Defense Ministry Confirms Rail-Mobile ICBM Test (Washington Free Beacon)