China appears to be within two years of deploying submarine-launched nuclear weapons, adding a new leg to its nuclear arsenal, a draft US report claims.China also remains “the most threatening” power in cyberspace, according to the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission in a draft of its 2012 report to the US Congress.
Beijing is “on the cusp of attaining a credible nuclear triad of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and airdropped nuclear bombs,” the report says.
China has had a largely symbolic ballistic missile submarine capability for decades but is only now set to establish a “near-continuous at-sea strategic deterrent,” the draft said.
Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, has made it a priority to modernise the country’s navy. China launched its first aircraft carrier, purchased from Ukraine and then refurbished, in September.
China is party to many major international pacts and regimes regarding nuclear weapons and materials. But it remains outside of key arms limitation and control conventions, such as the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty signed in April 2010 and the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The US historically has approached these bilaterally with Russia.
Congress should require the US State Department to spell out efforts to integrate China into nuclear arms reduction, limitation, and control discussions and agreements, the draft said.
China is estimated by the Arms Control Association, a private non-partisan group in Washington, to have 240 nuclear warheads. The United States has some 5,113, including tactical, strategic and non deployed weapons.
The draft, in its section on cyber-related issues, called on Congress to develop a sanctions regime to penalise specific companies found to engage in industrial espionage.
The final version of the report is to be released next Wednesday.
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