China’s sea-based nuclear missiles can reach American targets
In popular opinion, US-China relationship has been described as the world’s most important bilateral relationship of the century as US, China are world’s largest and second largest economy respectively, and are each other’s potential adversary as well as strategic partner.
While US and China have mutual economic, political and security interests, they were in open conflict during Korean war and Vietnam war, and still there are concerns regarding the violation of human rights and lack of democracy in China.
To counterbalance the soviet threat in the aftermath of 1969 Sino-Soviet border clashes, Chinese leaders started their bid to improve relations with the United States. Increased trade dependency on each other in later years further boosted the ties. However, even today the relationship suffers from lack of trust. Hence, China’s investment in its military has been growing rapidly and the same has been criticised by a group (Blue Team) of politicians and journalists in United States loosely unified by their belief that China is a significant security threat to the United States.
In a development which will further strengthen the anti-China belief of the Blue Team, China is set to reinforce its nuclear second-strike capability by mounting on some of its submarines long-range ballistic missiles, which could target the US.
Until now, China could strike the US only with land-based missiles. And with Western advancements in surveillance that could track their location and movements, these weapons had become vulnerable to a US first strike. This undermined Beijing’s nuclear deterrence.
According to a report by US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a cluster of 12 JL-2 missiles, with a strike range of around 7,350 km, are being mounted on China’s JIN class of nuclear-powered submarines. The missiles will have an array of strike options, depending on whether the submarine chooses to fire its weapons close to Chinese shores or from areas deeper in the sea.
The report which was submitted to US Congress in November further says that Alaska will fall within their ambit if the missiles are fired from waters near China. Hawaii can be targeted if these weapons are launched from waters south of Japan. Western continental US and all the 50 US States are endangered if waters west or east of Hawaii are chosen as the launch pads.