- The Washington Times - Friday, January 11, 2002

China easily could put multiple warheads on its current missile force but would face problems adding more than one warhead on its three new mobile ICBMs, according to a new intelligence report.

The National Intelligence Council's estimate of future missile threats, made public Wednesday, said China "has had the capability to develop and deploy a multiple re-entry system for many years, including a MIRV system." MIRV stands for multiple, independently targeted re-entry vehicle the term for modern multi-warhead missiles.

The current force of some 20 CSS-4 long-range missiles currently has large single warheads and could be upgraded with multiple warheads "in a few years," the report said.

According to the report, China's intercontinental ballistic missile force over the next 15 years will range from 75 to 100 warheads "deployed primarily against the United States."

Chinese Embassy spokesman Xie Feng said he did not know the basis for the CIA report.

"The purpose of China developing nuclear weapons is simply for self-defense," he said.

Mr. Xie said China has a policy of not being the first to use nuclear weapons and of not using nuclear arms against non-nuclear states.

"It is a fact known to all that China has the smallest arsenal of all nuclear powers," he said.

Adding more warheads to the new single-warhead Dong Feng-31, a longer-range version of the DF-31 and the submarine-based JL-2, would be harder. The report said the Chinese would face technical hurdles and additional costs for boosting the number of deployed strategic warheads.

"MIRVing and missile defense countermeasures would be factors in the ultimate size of the force," the report said.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi dismissed the CIA report on China's strategic warhead buildup as "baseless speculation."

"China will increase its defense power based on its own needs," Mr. Sun said.

Richard Fisher, a specialist on the Chinese military with the Jamestown Foundation, said the government's estimates appear too low.

"The estimate of 75 to 100 warheads to be aimed at the United States by 2015 may be an underestimate, if the People's Liberation Army builds more than four new ballistic missile submarines," Mr. Fisher said in an interview. "Some reports estimate that the PLA may build up to six of these submarines. If that's the case, the overall number could actually turn out to be larger."

Mr. Fisher said the report also indicates that China plans to extend the range of its new DF-31 rather than produce a different DF-41 missile. He said China has been having problems developing the DF-41 and may have abandoned the program.

Mr. Fisher said a glaring omission of the report is the failure to mention China's progress in developing a land-attack cruise missile.

Combined with the large number of new Chinese missiles of varying ranges, "this adds up to a rather substantial, PLA Asia theater missile threat that is much larger than the report suggests," Mr. Fisher said.

CIA analyses of China came under fire last year from a panel of outside specialists who concluded that CIA China analysts harbored an "institutional predisposition" to play down Chinese military developments as nonthreatening.

Details of Chinese missile developments were part of a report outlining long-range missile developments in China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Pakistan and India.

The report also said North Korea is a growing long-range missile threat, with hundreds of short- and medium-range missiles and continued work on long-range Taepo Dong missiles that "will enable the North to target the United States."

North Korea defended its missile program yesterday. The state-run news agency said the program is a "self-defense measure."

"If our country is a 'rogue state' for its development of missiles as a self-defense measure, what is the United States, which has a number of missiles and a stockpile of about 20,000 nuclear warheads?" the Korean Central Broadcasting Station asked.

"It is the very United States which is launching military terror attacks on our republic."

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