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China To Send Nuclear-Armed Submarines To Pacific To Counter U.S., Beijing Claims

tim daiss

Tim Daiss


Geopolitical analyst and energy markets journalist based in Asia.

china submarines

A Chinese Navy submarine takes part in an international fleet review to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army Navy in Qingdao, Shandong province April 23, 2009. REUTERS photo

Just as most Americans settle in for a nice three-day Memorial Day weekend, news broke that China is planning to send submarines armed with nuclear missiles in the Pacific Ocean for the first time. The U.K.-based Guardian newspaper, citing Chinese officials, reported the news on May 27.

According to the report, Beijing is claiming that U.S. weapons systems have become so advanced and so undermine China’s existing deterrent force that Beijing has little choice but to send in the submarines armed with nukes.

Beijing claims that U.S. plans disclosed in March to station the Thaad anti-ballistic system in South Korea, and the development of hypersonic glide missiles potentially capable of hitting China less than an hour after being launched, as major threats to the effectiveness of its land-based deterrent force.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon’s latest annual report to Congress released less than two weeks ago predicted that China will probably conduct its first nuclear deterrence patrol sometime this year.

The Guardian report said that warheads and missiles would be put together and handed over to the Chinese navy, allowing a nuclear weapon to be launched much faster if the decision to launch was ever made.

However, other reports seem to debunk the ability of Chinese to implement this plan, at least at the current time. A report by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), an organization that provides science-based analysis of and solutions to protect against catastrophic threats to national and international security, stated that “it seems that various news media reports and official statement continue to exaggerate or preempt the operational capability of the Chinese submarine force.”

“Many have said the new Jin-class SSBNs had begun conducting deterrent patrols, but the DOD [Department of Defense] report seems to indicate that the subs (or rather, their missiles) are not yet fully operational.”





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