Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Arms Race Update - China Won't Rule Out Nuclear First Strike

It sounds a bit like the American mantra of "all options are on the table."  China has amended it's "no first strike" nuclear weapons policy.  In a document ominously entitled "Lowering the Threshold of Nuclear Threats",  China now reserves the right to resort to nuclear weapons against a nuclear-armed power attacking its cities or infrastructure.

The People's Liberation Army's Second Artillery Corps, which oversees China's strategic nuclear force, "  will adjust the nuclear threat policy if a nuclear missile-possessing country carries out a series of airstrikes against key strategic targets in our country with absolutely superior conventional weapons,"   the policy states.

China's military "  must carefully consider"   a nuclear response to conventional-weapon attacks within the nation's borders, according to the documents. Targets that could draw such a response include any of China's leading urban centers or its atomic or hydroelectric power facilities, according to the documents. Any strikes posing an existential threat to the Chinese government could also merit a nuclear retaliation, they add.

 Beijing would first warn the opposing power of a possible nuclear response through television, the Internet or other communication channels, says the policy.

I haven't done an "arms race update" post for quite some time.  It's not for want of developments to report.  It's more reflective of a perceived indifference we've accepted to these things since the advent of nuclear proliferation.  There's all manner of things happening.   China is starting to push India's buttons over Kashmir.  The two country's border dispute is heating up.  Pakistan tested a new nuclear missile a few days ago.   India followed up by announcing plans to extend the range of its own intermediate-range nuclear missile.  Israel is now planning to send missile-warning to its people via their smart phones.  And this is all just from the last few days.

Twenty years ago most of these developments would have been big news.   Today, we don't even hear of them.  I wonder what that means?

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