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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

-- July 10, 1997

New Chinese missiles target all of East Asia

By Bill Gertz
China is upgrading its medium-range missile forces with newer mobile systems designed to hit targets in Russia, India, Taiwan, Japan and other parts of East Asia, according to a classified Pentagon report.
. . . . Details about China's intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) nuclear forces, including numbers of launchers and deployment areas, have never been made public before.
. . . . Currently, China has about 40 CSS-2 refire-capable launchers at six field garrisons and launch complexes, according to the report by the National Air Intelligence Center. Many of those launchers are being converted to handle new, solid-fuel CSS-5 Mod 1 launchers and missiles.
. . . . The Air Force believes the number of CSS-2 sites likely will be reduced because the United States no longer operates bases in the Philippines and because China's M-9 short-range missiles deployed along the eastern coast can be used to attack Taiwan instead, according to the report.
. . . . "China's IRBM force translates into overwhelming strategic leverage in Asia," says Richard Fisher, a defense specialist at the Heritage Foundation.
. . . . Chinese medium-range missiles, including a future variant of the CSS-5, called Mod 2, "are designed to provide strategic dominance over East Asia," Mr. Fisher said in an interview.
. . . . The Air Force intelligence center said last year that China is expected to field a new mobile intercontinental ballistic missile, the DF-31, around 2000, which will give Beijing "a major strike capability" against U.S. and allied forces in the Pacific and parts of the western United States.
. . . . According to the NAIC report on the medium-range missiles, labeled "secret," satellite photographs of IRBM missile launch complexes and field garrisons in China indicate the People's Liberation Army is "downsizing the CSS-2 force."
. . . . The CSS-2, a liquid-fuel missile with a range of about 1,922 miles, is being replaced in some deployment areas with "the mobile, solid-propellent CSS-5 Mod 1" with a range of about 1,333 miles, the report says.
. . . . Solid-fuel missiles can be launched more quickly, and most modern missiles use that type of propellant.
. . . . The CSS-5 deployments so far have been limited to areas closer to China's borders to ensure "adequate target coverage" of areas where CSS-2s were once aimed.
. . . . In the interior of China, where greater range is needed, CSS-2 activity "remains unchanged," a sign the system will remain in service for the next five years.
. . . . "In areas deeper inside China, where longer range is necessary for target coverage, CSS-2 activities are relatively high, indicating the missile could remain in service in these regions until new missiles such as the CSS-5 Mod 2 are deployed," the report says. "Once the CSS-5 Mod 1 and Mod 2 deployments are adequately under way, the CSS-2 will likely be removed completely from service, perhaps by 2002."
. . . . Mr. Fisher said the IRBM upgrades increase the danger China will sell older CSS-2s or their technology to rogue states, as China has done with other missile systems.
. . . . The Pentagon report provides details of medium-range missile activity and targets at four general locations in China.
  • At the 12 launch-site garrisons at Tonghua, near North Korea, only eight launchers out of 24 still have CSS-2s. The rest have been upgraded with CSS-5s, and the remaining launchers are expected to be converted later. The location makes CSS-2's range "largely redundant" because the CSS-5 "can target all of Japan, North and South Korea, and parts of Taiwan from these deployment areas." Four CSS-2 launchers at nearby Dengshahe are active, but training levels have been low in the 1990s.
  • Of the 16 CSS-2 launch garrisons at the Lianxiwang Launch Complex, opposite Taiwan, 10 currently operate the liquid-fuel missiles and at least two garrisons are being converted to the newer CSS-5. "Since no U.S. bases remain in the Philippines, and CSS-6 short-range ballistic missiles, which can strike Taiwan, are deployed with the 52 Army [located in Eastern China], the need for the CSS-2 ... has significantly diminished," the report says. The CSS-6, with a range of about 372 miles, is also called the M-9 by the Pentagon. The Air Force estimates the CSS-2 force at Lianxiwang will decline to about eight launchers until "the system is retired" in the next decade.
  • At the Jianshui Launch Complex, located near the China-Vietnam border, China has deployed eight CSS-2 launchers and eight CSS-5 launchers. The Air Force estimates the CSS-2s will remain active there because its greater range is needed "to target most of India, while the CSS-5 Mod 1 can cover Southeast Asia from the same launch facilities," the report states. China could use the missiles to threaten nations in Southeast Asia that are disputing Beijing's claim to islands in the South China Sea, analysts say. Large-scale CSS-2 training was photographed by U.S. spy satellites at the Kunming missile training facility last year. The Air Force has videotape of the exercises that involved three launch units practicing to use the CSS-2s.
  • At Datong missile garrision, located in central China, CSS-2 training also has been observed, at nearby Haiyan, indicating continued Chinese reliance on the older IRBM.
. . . . "Datong is an ideal deployment site for the CSS-2 as the site is much less vulnerable to air attack than the coast areas," the report states. "From Datong, the CSS-2 can strike targets in India and Russia."
. . . . The Air Force has spotted "recent demolotion activity" at Datong indicating the facility is undergoing conversion in apparent preparation for deployment of China's most modern IRBM, the CSS-5 Mod 2.
. . . . According to Mr. Fisher, the Mod 2 version of the CSS-5 will be comparable to the U.S. Pershing II IRBM, which was dismantled under a 1987 arms pact, and will employ advanced radar guidance that makes it extremely accurate.

Copyright © 1997 News World Communications, Inc.

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