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On China’s next-generation missile submarine, Fisher said the Type 096 could have an longer-range “JL-3” missile capable of hitting targets throughout the United States.

Thomas M. Skypek, a national security analyst, stated in a 2010 paper that China over the next 10 years could build several types of strategic missile forces, ranging from a modest force of four Type 094 submarines, to a force with two Type 094s and up to eight Type 096s, each armed with 24 JL-3 missiles fitted with multiple warheads.

“In its drive to develop a credible at-sea nuclear deterrent, Beijing will look to field stealthier submarines with more MIRVed ballistic missiles, providing far greater capability than the first- and second-generation SSBNs and SLBMs could offer,” Skypek stated.

Skypek said China’s military has encountered problems with the Type 094 JL-2. However, he added the Chinese navy’s “current trajectory suggests that China is on the cusp of a significant leap in capability and will soon deploy a credible sea-based nuclear deterrent.”

“Once fully operational, the [Chinese] SSBN fleet, even with a modest number of boats, will enhance China’s strategic strike capabilities and strengthen Beijing’s overall deterrence posture by providing enhanced range, mobility, stealth, survivability, penetration, and lethality.”

Japan’s government warned in a defense white paper made public earlier this month about the threat posed by the JL-2. “Once the JL-2 reaches a level of practical use, it is believed that China’s strategic nuclear capabilities will improve by a great margin,” the white paper stated.

Chinese Maj. Gen. Yao Yunzhu, a researcher, suggested in May that U.S. efforts to increase missile defenses in Asia will produce a buildup of China’s strategic nuclear arsenal.

“The current development, especially the deployment of missile-defense systems in East Asia would be, in Chinese eyes, would be a very, very disturbing factor having implications for the calculation of China’s nuclear and strategic arsenal,” said Yao Yunzhu, a senior researcher at China’s Academy of Military Science.

Yao also said joint U.S. missile defenses in Asia have “implications for China.” The Pentagon is working closely with Japan on joint missile defenses to counter the threat posed by North Korean missiles.

The Wall Street Journal, quoting “Chinese experts,” reported in May that U.S. military moves in Asia were unlikely to affect China’s nuclear force buildup, including the launch of missile submarines in 2014.

However, the number of nuclear warheads and strategic missiles could be “adjusted” based on U.S. military plans in Asia.

The Obama administration has launched a “pivot” to Asia that includes a buildup of U.S. military forces in the region and an increase in exercises with Asian allies and friends.

Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter announced in April that the Navy will deploy a fourth nuclear-powered attack submarine in Guam by 2015.