China could soon target the United States with sea-based nuclear weapons as it is reinforcing its submarines with long-range nuclear ballistic missiles, a US congressional report has found.
China’s military is set to acquire a reliable, hard-to-destroy sea-based nuclear deterrent, with a dozen JL-2 missiles that are being mounted on its JIN class submarines, according to a report submitted to Congress by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
The missiles have a strike range of around 7,350 km, meaning they can reach all 50 US states if they are launched from waters west or east of Hawaii.
Currently, the Chinese can target the US only with land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles. However, land-based weapons had become vulnerable to a US first strike due to advancements in surveillance that could track their location and movements.
The integration of the new missiles into China’s three JIN-class nuclear-powered submarines has boosted their lethality, giving the country a credible second-strike capability and increasing Beijing’s nuclear deterrence.
The Chinese have also invested significantly on the CJ-10 land attack cruise missiles, capable of striking US forces in Japan and South Korea.
Many Chinese scholars believe that the sea-based nuclear deterrent can insulate China from a US nuclear attack.
The scholars say China’s military doctrine remains essentially defensive, and its accelerated weaponization program is mostly a reaction to Washington’s so-called “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific region, a strategy that Beijing interprets as China-containment policy.
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