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Pentagon officials have asked China to allow visits to underground facilities such as the submarine tunnel and a command center in Beijing, but either the requests were denied or the existence of the sites was denied.

“The Chinese have denied having any underground submarine facilities,” the Pentagon official said, noting that the satellite photos indicate that China has misled the United States.

Underground submarine sites are one of 10 major types of facilities hidden by the Chinese military, U.S. officials said. The others include nuclear missile storage facilities, other weapons plants, command centers and political leadership offices.

In 2004, China revealed the first of a new class of submarines. The development of the Yuan-class submarines was kept secret through the use of an underground factory in south-central China, the officials said.

Since 2002, Beijing has deployed 14 submarines. And it is working on a new ballistic-missile submarine, known as the Jin class, and two new Shang-class attack submarines.

According to a classified Defense Intelligence Agency assessment, China’s nuclear forces include about 45 long-range missiles, 12 submarine-launched missiles and about 100 short-range missiles each with a single warhead.

By 2020, China’s arsenal will include up to 220 long-range missiles, up to 44 submarine-launched missiles and up to 200 short-range missiles, the DIA report stated.

Richard Fisher, a China military analyst at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said that in addition to the northern submarine base, China also has a major submarine base at Yulin, on Hainan island in the South China Sea.

The southern base gives Chinese missile submarines easier access to firing areas than the Yellow Sea base, which is more vulnerable to attacks from U.S. anti-submarine warfare systems.