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U.S. Intelligence Agency Foresees China Doubling ICBM Arsenal by 2025

The U.S. Defense  Intelligence Agency estimates that China within 13 years will wield twice the number of nuclear-capable ICBMs that it currently does, the Washington Times reported on Wednesday (see GSN, Dec. 2, 2011).

The head of the agency, Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess, said Beijing is presently believed to possess "fewer than 50" missiles that could reach the United States, but that the Chinese military "will probably double that number by 2025."

Addressing senators last week, Burgess said the People's Liberation Army is updating its nuclear deterrent by improving the capabilities of its silo-launched missiles and by adding land-transportable missiles. China is also constructing ballistic missile submarines, he said (see GSN, Oct. 17, 2011).

Exact figures on the size of China's nuclear arsenal are not available, but a majority of experts estimate the nation holds between 300 and 400 warheads, the newspaper reported.

Beijing's strategic modernization effort comes as the U.S. Defense Department is reportedly preparing to present President Obama with multiple options for substantially reducing the number of nuclear warheads maintained on long-range delivery platforms (see GSN, Feb. 15; Bill Gertz, Washington Times, Feb. 22).

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