- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 10, 2002

China is building up its strategic missile force by converting silo missiles to road-mobile ICBMs, as North Korea, Iran, Iraq continue work on long-range strike weapons, a U.S. intelligence report released yesterday says.
"The intelligence community projects that Chinese ballistic missile forces will increase several-fold by 2015," the National Intelligence Council, an interagency analysis group based at CIA headquarters, stated in an annual assessment.
The unclassified report said the future Chinese ballistic missile force "deployed primarily against the United States" will number around 75 to 100 warheads and will be smaller than either U.S. or Russian strategic arsenals.
The report also said North Korea appears to be preparing for a flight test of its long-range Taepo Dong-2 missile, "which is capable of reaching parts of the United States with a nuclear weapon-sized … payload" of several hundred pounds.
There is a danger some nations could fire short- or medium-range ballistic missiles or cruise missiles from ships close to U.S. coasts, the report says.
"Most U.S. intelligence community agencies project that during the next 15 years the United States most likely will face [intercontinental ballistic missile or ICBM] threat from North Korea, Iran and possibly Iraq, … in addition to the strategic forces of Russia and China," the report said.
The report was issued in response to requests from the Senate Intelligence Committee to produce annual threat assessments.
It was made public weeks after President Bush announced the United States' intention to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia as part of efforts to build strategic missile defenses.
A U.S. intelligence official said the report, similar to an earlier national intelligence estimate, was made public as a reminder "that the threat from ballistic missiles remains and continues to grow."
Although North Korea has extended a moratorium on missile flight testing until next year based on progress in talks with the United States, a Taepo Dong-2 space launch test is expected, as occurred during its first test in 1998, the report said.
The report said North Korea is continuing to work on its Taepo Dong missiles.
The intelligence council report is a consensus view of various U.S. intelligence agencies, including the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, State Department intelligence and military intelligence units.
The report said that Iran is building both long- and short-range missiles and has Shahab-3 missiles with ranges of up to 806 miles "that could be launched in a conflict."
An intercontinental-range missile could be test launched by Iran by the late 2000s, the report said. Iraq also "wants a long-range missile and probably retains a small, covert force of Scud-variant missiles."
The report states the proliferation of missile goods, mostly from Russia, China and North Korea, has boosted efforts of developing nations to build missiles.
China's sales of M-11 short-range missiles to Pakistan, for example, have helped Islamabad build longer-range missiles, it stated.
Russia's missile force of about 700 ICBMs with 300 warheads and a dozen missile submarines with 200 missiles and 900 warheads, likely will decrease to a total of fewer than 2,000 warheads regardless of arms control, the report said.
China's current small force of about 20 CSS-4 ICBMs capable of hitting the United States and about 12 CSS-3s that can hit targets in Russia and Asia is being modernized, the report said.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide