The Chinese regime went ahead with tests of its newest ballistic missile on April 12, which can allegedly carry up to 10 nuclear warheads to any part of the United States.
It conducted the tests while also expressing discord over an upcoming decision from an international arbitration court about China’s claims to the South China Sea. The case, brought to court by the Philippines, could discredit China’s claims to the region.
Unnamed Pentagon officials revealed details on the missile test to the Washington Free Beacon. They allegedly monitored the flights of two missiles, which appeared on military satellites and regional sensors.
The officials did not detail the location of the test, but the Free Beacon notes in the April 19 article that previous tests were carried out from the Wuzhai Missile and Space Test Center in central China.
It also notes the tests came just three days before Defense Secretary Ash Carter visited a U.S. aircraft carrier in the South China Sea, and around the same time that a high-ranking Chinese general “made an unusual visit to a disputed South China Sea island.”
According to Dr. Bernard D. Cole, who teaches Sino-American Relations and Maritime Strategy at the National War College, the test was likely planned long in advance
“The DF-41 has been in development for at least 15 years, probably longer, so this is just the end of a very long development cycle,” he said in a phone interview.
The Free Beacon also noted that Kanwa Asian Defense reported last month that China’s new intercontinental ballistic missile was in its final testing phase, and they were expected to deply it near Xinyang in Henan province, in central China.
Cole said that China having a nuclear weapon that can strike the United States may not have a significant impact on how the United States deals with China, but it could affect the behavior of the Chinese regime.
“I don’t know that it’s going to make the U.S. approach different, if at all, but it will give China more confidence as they deal with issues,” Cole said.
He added, “It will build a confidence in their diplomacy and their miltiary status.”
Another factor is that the Chinese regime has been mulling over plans to change its policy on nuclear weapons from “survivability” to a hair-trigger status that has its missiles ready to launch at any moment.
The Union of Concerned Scientists noted China’s potential shift in policy in a Feb. 16 report. It said China may be moving “toward a policy of launch-on-warning and hair-trigger alert,” and noted the United States also uses a hair-trigger alert.
“Such a change would dramatically increase the risk of a nuclear exchange or accident—a dangerous shift that the United States could help avert,” it stated.
MORE:Second Chinese Spy Case In a Week: Tried Exporting Materials for China Missile Program
According to Cole, the “worse case situation” with China’s new missiles and its alleged policy changes woudl be if policies of mutually-assured destruction were to emerge between China and the United States, similar to what existed between the United State and the Soviets during the Cold War.
He said, however, that there seems to be no indication that things are moving in that direction, yet noted “it’s possible.”
With the latest test in particular, Cole said, “it’s an important development, but I don’t think it’s a crucial one.”

Read the full article here

This news analysis was originally dispatched as part of Epoch Times China email newsletters. Subscribe to the newsletters by filling your email in the “China D-brief” box under this article.
It’s possible a real-world nuclear war could end without a single missile being fired, and the United States could find itself on the losing end.
I’ve covered the problem before. The United States has barely moved its nuclear launch sites since the Cold War, and according to Richard Fisher, senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, all of these sites are overtargeted by Russian and Chinese intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
Of course, it’s not unusual for rivals to target nuclear weapons sites; some of the original U.S. nuclear war scenarios had all the Soviet nuclear weapons sites as primary targets.
The difference today is that while you can literally find most U.S. nuclear weapons sites using Google Earth—and while Russia and the United States are disposing of warheads—the Chinese regime is making significant efforts to build its nuclear arsenals, and to keep these weapons hidden.
On Dec. 5, 2015, the Chinese regime tested a launcher on its new rail-mobile DF-41 ICBM, by ejecting the missile from its launch tube, but without igniting its engine. According to IHS Jane’s, it was “likely meant to test the tube launch system’s compatibility with its new rail car.”
The DF-41, officially called the Dongfeng-41 (“East Wind-41″), is a road-mobile ICBM that can carry 10 nuclear warheads. It can also allegedly hit targets between 7,400 and 9,000 miles away—enough to strike New York from Beijing.
What’s most interesting about the latest test, however, has less to do with the missile and more to do with the carrier. IHS Jane’s reported it “confirms previous reports of China’s interest in rail mobility to increase the survivability of its ICBM force.”
It may have obtained the designs from Ukraine. IHS Jane’s notes a 2013 report from the Georgetown University Arms Control Project says the Chinese regime obtained “ICBM rail car insights from Ukraine,” where the Soviets and Russia built their rail-mobile ICBM, the RT-23 (SS-24 Scalpel).
The mobile capabilities of the ICBMs is what should have the U.S. defense community worried. The idea of mobile launchers isn’t to find fancy ways to launch rockets, but instead to find ways to keep them hidden and always moving.
Previous versions of the DF-41 were carried by an 18-wheel transporter-erector-launcher. On February 19, 2015, the People’s Liberation Army Pictorial, a Chinese military magazine, published an image of a 16-wheel launch truck allegedly for its DF-31B ICMB.
The new launcher is yet another example of the intentionally opaque nature of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) nuclear weapons arsenal. While the U.S. has chosen to open its systems to the prying eyes of the world, the CCP knows that revealing the locations of nuclear warheads means telling your adversaries where to strike first.
Of course, the United States used to know this also. In the 1980s, the United States successfully developed ICBMs small enough to be transported and launched from a vehicle, under its Midgetman program. The idea behind Midgetman was to prevent U.S. adversaries from knowing the locations of its nuclear weapons, with an understanding that these sites would be the main targets in the event of nuclear war.
MORE:CHINA SECURITY: The Inner Workings of Chinese Economic Espionage
The Midgetman program was scrapped, however, in 1992 shortly after the Cold War came to an end.
But while the Cold War between the Soviets and the United States is now just history, many of the same threats still stand with Communist China.
“If you look at new Chinese bases, it is quite easy to conclude that China is building up to the capability to pre-emptively strike our ICMB fields,” Fisher said, in a previous interview with Epoch Times.
He said, “We are on the road toward a near-term scenario in which we will be vulnerable to strategic blackmail.”

Read the full article here