China's PLA Eyes Development of Conventionally Armed ICBM, U.S. Military Concerned
China Testing Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles With Non-Nuclear Capabilities
In a recent report to Congress, the Pentagon has expressed concerns about China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) potentially developing and deploying a conventionally armed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). This development could provide Chinese forces with the ability to strike targets across the continental United States, as well as Hawaii and Alaska, without resorting to nuclear weapons.
The primary objective behind this move is to establish a formidable conventional deterrent capability that can hold targets across the United States at risk, while simultaneously reducing the likelihood of nuclear retaliation. However, this capability also introduces strategic ambiguity and uncertainty, which could be advantageous for China but dangerously destabilizing for global security.
The Pentagon's annual report on Chinese defense and security developments reveals that the PLA is actively exploring the development of a conventional ICBM. The report also sheds light on China's ongoing efforts to significantly expand its nuclear deterrent capabilities.
According to U.S. military estimates, China currently possesses at least 500 nuclear warheads, a significant increase from last year's count of 400. Furthermore, the country could potentially amass as many as 1,500 warheads by 2035, surpassing previous assessments. U.S. officials believe that China's expansion of its nuclear arsenal is a deliberate attempt to achieve parity with, if not surpass, the United States in certain aspects.
The PLA is currently developing and fielding multiple new and improved nuclear-armed ICBMs. One such missile, the DF-5C, could potentially carry large warheads with multi-megaton yields, according to the Pentagon. Additionally, existing DF-31 ICBMs are being upgraded to enhance their capabilities.
The development of a conventionally armed ICBM by China poses significant challenges for the United States and its allies. The ability to strike targets across the continental U.S., Hawaii, and Alaska without resorting to nuclear weapons gives China a distinct advantage. This development not only alters the strategic landscape but also complicates the decision-making process for U.S. military planners.
The Pentagon's report underscores the urgent need for the United States to reassess its own nuclear deterrent capabilities and explore new strategies to counter China's advancements. The proliferation of conventional ICBMs adds a layer of complexity to an already tense geopolitical environment.
As China continues to expand its nuclear arsenal and explores new ways to project power, it becomes imperative for the United States to maintain its technological edge and invest in research and development to counter emerging threats. The U.S. military must remain vigilant and proactive in addressing these challenges to ensure national security and global stability.
China's potential development of a conventionally armed ICBM raises concerns within the U.S. military. The expansion of China's nuclear arsenal, coupled with advancements in missile technology, poses a significant challenge for the United States. As both countries strive for strategic parity, it is essential for the U.S. to adopt a comprehensive approach to address these emerging threats.