People's Republic of China and weapons of mass destruction
By type Biological, Chemical, Nuclear, Radiological By country Proliferation Biological, Chemical, Nuclear, Missiles Treaties List of treaties Book · Category
The People's Republic of China has developed and possessed weapons of mass destruction, including chemical and nuclear weapons. China's first nuclear test took place in 1964 and first hydrogen bomb test occurred in 1967. Tests continued until 1996 when it signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). China has acceded to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) in 1984 and ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in 1997.
China is estimated by the Federation of American Scientists to have an arsenal of about 180 active nuclear weapon warheads and 240 total warheads as of 2009, which would make it the second smallest nuclear arsenal amongst the five major nuclear weapon states. According to some estimates, the country could "more than double" the "number of warheads on missiles that could threaten the United States by the mid-2020s".
Early in 2011, China published a defense white paper, which repeated its nuclear policies of maintaining a minimum deterrent with a no-first-use pledge. Yet China has yet to define what it means by a "minimum deterrent posture". This, together with the fact that "it is deploying four new nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, invites concern as to the scale and intention of China’s nuclear upgrade".
China signed the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) on January 13, 1993. The CWC was ratified April 25, 1997. In the official declaration submitted to OPCW Chinese government has declared that it had possessed small arsenal of chemical weapons in the past but that it had destroyed it before ratifying Convention. It has declared only two former chemical production facilities that may have produced mustard gas and Lewisite.
China is currently a signatory of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and Chinese officials have stated that China has never engaged in biological activities with offensive military applications. However, China was reported to have had an active biological weapons program in the 1980s.
Kanatjan Alibekov, former director of one of the Soviet germ-warfare programs, said that China suffered a serious accident at one of its biological weapons plants in the late 1980s. Alibekov asserted that Soviet reconnaissance satellites identified a biological weapons laboratory and plant near a site for testing nuclear warheads. The Soviet suspected that two separate epidemics of hemorrhagic fever that swept the region in the late 1980s were caused by an accident in a lab where Chinese scientists were weaponizing viral diseases.
US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright expressed her concerns over possible Chinese biological weapon transfers to Iran and other nations in a letter to Senator Robert E. Bennett (R-Utah) in January 1997. Albright stated that she had received reports regarding transfers of dual-use items from Chinese entities to the Iranian government which concerned her and that the United States had to encourage China to adopt comprehensive export controls to prevent assistance to Iran's biological weapons program. The United States acted upon the allegations on January 16, 2002, when it imposed sanctions on three Chinese firms accused of supplying Iran with materials used in the manufacture of chemical and biological weapons. In response to this, China issued export control protocols on dual use biological technology in late 2002.
China First nuclear weapon test October 16, 1964 Last nuclear test July 29, 1996 Largest yield test
- Atmospheric - 4 Mt (November 17, 1976)
- Underground - 660~1,000 kt (May 21, 1992)
Total tests 44 Peak stockpile 434 Current stockpile ~400 Maximum missile range 12,000-15,000 km NPT signatory Yes (1992, one of five recognized powers)
Nuclear weapon history
Because of strict secrecy it is very difficult to determine the exact size and composition of China's nuclear forces. Several declassified U.S. government reports give historical estimates. The 1984 Defense Intelligence Agency's Defense Estimative Brief estimates the Chinese nuclear stockpile as consisting of between 150 and 160 warheads. A 1993 United States National Security Council report estimated that China's nuclear deterrent force relied on 60 to 70 nuclear armed ballistic missiles. The Defense Intelligence Agency's The Decades Ahead: 1999 - 2020 report estimates the 1999 Nuclear Weapons' Inventory as between 140 and 157. In 2004 the U.S. Department of Defense assessed that China had about 20 intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of targeting the United States. In 2006 a U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency estimate presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee was that "China currently has more than 100 nuclear warheads." 
China's first test of a nuclear device took place on October 16, 1964, at the Lop Nur test site. China's last nuclear test was on July 29, 1996. According to the Australian Geological Survey Organization in Canberra, the yield of the 1996 test was 1-5 kilotons. This was China's 22nd underground test and 45th test overall.
China has made significant improvements in its miniaturization techniques since the 1980s. There have been accusations, notably by the Cox Commission, that this was done primarily by covertly acquiring the U.S.'s W88 nuclear warhead design as well as guided ballistic missile technology. Chinese scientists have stated that they have made advances in these areas, but insist that these advances were made without espionage.
Although the total number of nuclear weapons in the Chinese arsenal is unknown, as of 2005[update] estimates vary from as low as 80 to as high as 2000. In 2004, China stated that "among the nuclear-weapon states, China... possesses the smallest nuclear arsenal," implying China has fewer than the United Kingdom's 200 nuclear weapons. Several non-official sources estimate that China has around 400 nuclear warheads. However U.S. intelligence estimates suggest a much smaller nuclear force than many non-governmental organizations.
China is one of the five "nuclear weapons states" (NWS) under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which China ratified in 1992. China is the only NWS to give a security assurance to non-nuclear-weapon states:
- "China undertakes not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones at any time or under any circumstances." 
2005 white paper
In 2005, the Chinese Foreign Ministry released a white paper stating that the government would not be the first to use nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances. In addition, the paper went on to state that this "no first use" policy would remain unchanged in the future and that China would not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones.
Delivery Systems Estimates
2010 IISS Military Balance
The following are estimates of China's strategic missile forces from the International Institute of Strategic Studies Military Balance 2010. According to these estimates, China has up to 90 inter-continental range ballistic missiles (66 land-based ICBMs and 24 submarine-based JL-2 SLBMs), not counting MIRV warheads.
Type Missiles Estimated Range Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles DF-5A (CSS-4 Mod 2) ICBM 20 13,000+ km DF-31A (CSS-9 Mod 2) road-mobile ICBM 24 11,200+ km DF-31 (CSS-9) road-mobile ICBM 12 7,200+ km DF-4 (CSS-3) ICBM 10 5,500 km Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles DF-3A (CSS-2 Mod) IRBM 2 3,000+ km Medium Range Ballistic Missiles DF-21C (CSS-5 Mod 3) road-mobile MRBM 36 1,750+ km DF-21 (CSS-5) road-mobile MRBM 80 1,750+ km Short Range Ballistic Missiles DF-15 (CSS-6) road-mobile SRBM 96 600 km DF-11A (CSS-7 Mod 2) road-mobile SRBM 108 300 km Land Attack Cruise Missiles DH-10 LACM 54 3,000+ km Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles JL-1 SLBM 12 1,770+ km JL-2 SLBM 24 7,200+ km Total 478
2010 DoD annual PRC military report
The following are estimates from the United States Department of Defense 2010 report to Congress concerning the Military Power of the People's Republic of China
Type Launchers Missiles Estimated Range CSS-2 IRBM 5-10 15-20 3,000+ km CSS-3 ICBM 10-15 15-20 5,400+ km DF-5A (CSS-4) ICBM 20 20 13,000+ km DF-31 ICBM <10 <10 7,200+ km DF-31A ICBM 10-15 10-15 11,200+ km CSS-5 MRBM Mod 1/2 75-85 85-95 1,750+ km CSS-6 SRBM 90-110 350-400 600 km CSS-7 SRBM 120-140 700-750 300 km DH-10 LACM 45-55 200-500 1,500+ km JL-1 SLBM ? ? 1,770+ km JL-2 SLBM ? ? 7,200+ km Total 375-459 1395-1829
2006 FAS & NRDC report
The following table is an overview of PRC nuclear forces taken from a November 2006 report by Hans M. Kristensen, Robert S. Norris, and Matthew G. McKinzie of the Federation of American Scientists and the Natural Resources Defense Council titled Chinese Nuclear Forces and U.S. Nuclear War Planning.:202
Chinese Nuclear Forces, 2006 China designation U.S./NATO designation Year deployed Range Warhead x yield Number deployed Warheads deployed Land-based missiles DF-3A CSS-2 1971 3,100 km 1 x 3.3 Mt 16 16 DF-4 CSS-3 1980 5500 km 1 x 3.3 Mt 22 22 DF-5A CSS-4 Mod 2 1981 13,000 km 1 x 4-5 Mt 20 20 DF-21A CSS-5 Mod 1/2 1991 2,150 km 1 x 200-300 kt 35 35 DF-31 (CSS-X-10) 2006? 7,250+ km 1 x ? n.a. n.a. DF-31A n.a. 2007–2009 11,270+ km 1 x ? n.a. n.a. Subtotal 93 93 Submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs)** JL-1 CSS-NX-3 1986 1,770+ km 1 x 200-300 kt 12 12 JL-2 CSS-NX-4 2008-2010 ? 8,000+ km 1 x ? n.a. n.a. Subtotal 12 12 Total strategic ballistic missiles 105 105 Aircraft*** Hong-6 B-6 1965 3,100 km 1-3 x bomb 100 20 Attack (Q-5, others?) 1 x bomb 20 Subtotal 40 Short-range tactical weapons DF-15 CSS-6 1990 600 km 1 x low ~300 ? DH-10? (LACM) 2006-2007 ? ~1,500 km ? 1 x low ? n.a. n.a. Total ~145
Land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles
Nuclear weapons Nuclear-armed states
Although unconfirmed, most Western analysts believe China has deployed anywhere from 18 to 36 Dongfeng 5 ("East Wind") intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) since the 1980s. The Dongfeng 5A is a single-warhead, three-stage, liquid-fueled missile with a range of 13,000+ km. In 2000, General Eugene Habiger of the U.S. Air Force, then-commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, testified before Congress that China has 18 silo-based DF-5s. Since the early 21st century, the Second Artillery Corps have also deployed up to 10 Solid-fueled mobile DF-31 ICBMs, with a range of 7,200+ km and possibly up to 3 MIRVs. China has also developed the DF-31A, an intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of 11,200+ km with possibly 3-6 multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) capability.
China stores many of its missiles in huge underground tunnel complexes; US Representative Michael Turner referring to 2009 Chinese media reports said “This network of tunnels could be in excess of 5,000 kilometers (3,110 miles), and is used to transport nuclear weapons and forces,”, the Chinese Army newsletter calls this tunnel system an underground Great Wall of China .
Medium range ballistic missiles
Tactical cruise missiles
The CJ-10 long-range cruise missile made its first public appearance during the military parade on the 60th Anniversary of the People's Republic of China as a part of the Second Artillery Corps' long range conventional missile forces; the CJ-10 represents the next generation in rocket weapons technology in the PLA. A similar naval cruise missile, the YJ-62, was also revealed during the parade; the YJ-62 serves as the People's Liberation Army Navy's latest development into naval rocketry.
Long range ballistic missiles
The Chinese categorize long range ballistic missiles as ones with a range between 3000–8000 km.:103
The Dong Feng 4 or DF-4 (also known as the CSS-3) is a long-range two-stage Chinese intermediate-range ballistic missile with liquid fuel (nitric acid/UDMH). It was thought to be deployed in limited numbers in underground silos beginning in 1980.:67 The DF-4 has a takeoff thrust of 1,224.00 kN, a takeoff weight of 82000 kg, a diameter of 2.25 m, a length of 28.05 m, and a fin span of 2.74 m. It is equipped with a 2190 kg nuclear warhead with 3300 kt explosive yield, and its range is 5,500 km.:68 The missile uses inertial guidance, resulting in a relatively poor CEP of 1,500 meters.
Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs)
DF-5A/CSS-4 Mod 2
The Dongfeng 5 or DF-5 is a 3 stage Chinese ICBM. It has a length 32.6 m and a diameter of 3.35 m. It weighs in at 183,000 kilograms and it has an estimated range of 13,000 to kilometers.:71-72 The DF-5 had its first flight in 1971 and was in operational service 10 years later. One of the downsides of the missile was that it took between 30 and 60 minutes to fuel.
The Dong Feng 31 (a.k.a. CSS-9) is a medium-range, three stage, solid propellant intercontinental ballistic missile developed by the People's Republic of China. It is a land-based variant of the submarine launched JL-2. It is operated by the Second Artillery Corps (SAC) which is estimated to have 8-12 missiles in inventory.
The DF-41 or CSS-X-10 is an intercontinental ballistic missile developed by China. It can carry up to 10 nuclear warheads, which are maneuverable reentry vehicles. It has a range of approximately 12,000-14,000 km and can cover any position on the planet.
Nuclear cruise missiles
The US DoD estimated in 2006 that the PRC was developing ground and air launched cruise missiles that could easily be converted to carry nuclear warheads once developed.
The DongHai 10 (DH-10) is a cruise missile developed in the People's Republic of China. According to Jane's Defense Weekly, the DH-10 is a second-generation land-attack cruise missile (LACM), with over 4,000 km range, integrated inertial navigation system, GPS, terrain contour mapping system, and digital scene-matching terminal-homing system. The missile is estimated to have a circular error probable (CEP) of 10 meters.
The ChangJian-10 (Long Sword 10) is a cruise missile developed by China, based on the Hongniao missile family. It has a range of 2,200 km. Although not confirmed, it is suspected that the CJ-10 could carry nuclear warheads. An air-launched variant (named CJ-20) has also been developed.
HongNiao missile family
There are three missiles in this family: the HN-1, HN-2, and HN-3. Reportedly based on the Kh-SD/65 missiles, the Hongniao (or Red Bird) missiles are some of the first nuclear-capable cruise missiles in China. The HN-1 has a range of 600 km, the HN-2 has a range of 1,800 km, and the HN-3 has a range of 3,000 km.
ChangFeng missile family
There are 2 missiles in the Chang Feng (or Long Wind) family: CF-1 and CF-2. These are the first domestically-developed long-range cruise missiles for China. The CF-1 has a range of 400 km while the CF-2 has a range of 800 km. Both variants can carry a 10 kt nuclear warhead.
The submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) stockpile of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is thought to be relatively new. China launched its first second-generation nuclear submarine in April 1981. The navy currently has a 1 Type 092 Xia class SSBN at roughly 8000 tons displacement. A second Type 092 was reportedly lost in an accident in 1985. The Type 092 is equipped with 12 JL-1 SLBMs with a range of 2150–2500 km. The JL-1 is a modified DF-21 missile. It is suspected that the Type 092 is being converted into a cruise missile submarine.
The Chinese navy has developed Type 094 ballistic missile submarine, open source satellite imagery has shown that at least 2 of these have been completed. This submarine will be capable of carrying 12 of the longer ranged, more modern JL-2s with a range of approximately 14000 km.
Heavy bomber group
China's bomber force consists mostly of Chinese-made versions of Soviet aircraft. The People's Liberation Army Air Force has 120 H-6s (a variant of the Tupolev Tu-16). These bombers are outfitted to carry nuclear as well as conventional weapons. While the H-6 fleet is aging, it is not as old as the American B-52 Stratofortress.:93-98 The Chinese have also produced the Xian JH-7 Flying Leopard fighter-bomber with a range and payload exceeding the F-111 (currently about 80 are in service) capable of delivering a nuclear strike. China has also bought the advanced Sukhoi Su-30 from Russia; currently, about 100 Su-30s (MKK and MK2 variants) have been purchased by China. The Su-30 is capable of carrying tactical nuclear weapons.:102
China is alleged to be testing rumored new H-8 and H-9 strategic bombers which are either described as an upgraded H-6 or an aircraft in the same class as the US B-2, able to carry nuclear weapons.
Medium and Intercontinental Range Ballistic Missiles. Note: China currently is capable of targeting its nuclear forces throughout the region and most of the world, including the continental United States. Newer systems, such as the DF-31, DF-31A, and JL-2, will give China a more survivable nuclear force.
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Missiles of the People's Republic of China Surface-to-
AirMan Portable SAMs
Air-to-AirBeyond Visual Range AAMs
- PL-12 (SD-10)
- PL-10 (K/AKK-10)
- Notes:  Under development
- See also: People's Liberation Army
People's Liberation Army (PLA) General BranchesRegular AdministrationState InsigniaRanksDecorationsHero's Medal · Meritorious Service MedalUniform Other topicsInstitutionsContractors*China Electronics Technology Cooperation International · China Jing An Import and Export Corporation · China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation · China National Electronics Import & Export Corporation · China North Industries Corporation · China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corporation · China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation · China Xinshidai Company · China Xinxing Import and Export Corporation · Poly Technologies
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