CHINA'S NUCLEAR WEAPONS TESTING: FACING PROSPECTS FOR A COMPREHENSIVE TEST BAN

Created: 9/30/1993

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Intelligence Memorandum

Office of Scientific and Wei pom Research3

China's Nuclear Weapons Testing: Facing Prospectsomprehensive Test Ban

Summary

Chinaequirement lo conduci nuclear test* to develop warheads (of missile system* that are expected lo be deployed over the nextears Its known nuclear test plans, one test this year and three4 and id IW.sirggesi China is Phoning ttself io be able tootnprelWve test ban (CTB) treaty ia the mid tohile still satisfying these national Kcurity requirements Ncnetheiess. despite us competing foreign policy goals and the international pressure it is sure to face, we expect China to by toest ban and to progressively raise the cost for It to join

esting proceed, without major setbacks, the Chinese should be able to develop all the warheads ihey require for the missile systems under development with the seven planned tests However, this is probably not enoueft tests to incorporate new safety features into their warheadt, parbcilariy insensitive high

Pressure

China's pomsdevelop new nocleai weapons lo achieve force modcmiuuon it being complicated by the US proposal feeCTB Informal CTB bUateral discussions have already started with formalscheduled for next year,TB cowld be in place mid so,he only country of Ihe dn.car -eapora staaes thai carreoily is notroclaimed nuclear test moratorium; however, it is being pressured to join the team* morattrium. In addition tofitted States, someoabons have drmarched Bci)Uif and expressed hopes that China not conduct the nacieavr lest now in preparation. | |

Cnina's abflity in draw on proven warhead designs forcurrently under dtveJopment, or in the future, is limited because its nuclear sveapons stockpilearheads is based onew designs. Moreover, it has limited nuclear ten

experience. Cain, has conductedoreests

have been conducted by the United Sutes.y the Soviet Union, andy France. | ]

Fulfilling New Systems

China is parson* the development of new warheads for several snatepc systems.

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Another Chinese system under development is theJ short-range ballistic mmile-aho known is. We project that Chini will begin to field nuclear-armed's next year. China almost certainly has already developed the warhead for this system. Testing might be needed for final wcarxmizaoon or for additional warhead options.

Chinese wantntroduce DIE into its nuclear weapon" stockpile. Nuclear tests probably would be required to certify performance fot each warhead type that use DIE

VueWar Test

China recently altered its nuclear tesnng plans for the next two years, possibly wrth an eye toward fulfilling near-term system rtquurmeots before pressure toTB increases in the. [

lina planned to

accelerate its test program and coriduci seven nuclear testsne test is scheduled for the early pan ofnd three tests are scheduled4 and

We estimate the number of tests the Chinese needconduct to fulfill theirrequirements at two to eight (see

leshrg. Additional tests may be required if they have problemsny of the warheads. It is also unclearuclear-armed cruise missile willreviously developed warhead or require additional warhead development setts. |

Alternatively, some of me laser tests may represent an effort tothe schedule andorkable bargaining posmon. In May. Cronese dipiornats at the UN Conference on Ihsarmarnent in Geneva said that economic Nsues -err mere irasorunt to China than rnilitary requirements for nuclear testing and saggeMed some tern might be negotiable.

Given the state of Chinese IHE develcTvmenu. ft li unlikely that DTE would be incorporated into the existing nuclear weapons stockpile li is also not clear that IH lincorporated into the new warheads being developed priorTB.

phinai

i negotiated several contracts with Kuwin turnsouin mt and related production equipment While the ChinesenAgenoiis WE; capability, their IHE apparently is not as safe o, of the same quaJity as the Russian HE. It will probably take theear or two to assimilate tbe technology. ^

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uclear Testing Requirements

Because ol their lack of experience with IHE. the Chinese would probably need aa extensive noanurkar testing program if they hope to incorporahr it 1M0 nuclear weapons. One and powbly two development noclear tests for each warhead type using IHF probably would also be needed. I |

THE is less energetic than conventional high explosives and therefore more IHE is needed when replacing conventional explosives. IHE, being less sensitive to ihoci initiation, also wouldifferent detonation system. Modifying warheads oa currently deployed Chinese systems to use IHE would probably require some changes lo Ihe warhead design and may noi meet the size and mass constraints placed nn the warhead If used al all, we expect China will limit its use cf IHE to new warhead designs, | |

Chinese ViewsTft

Despite the possibility that China could satisfy national leconiy need*TB goes into effect, we expect China will bargain hard to retain its truing optionecent Chinese suiemrr. t> unking negotiationsona^ehenuve nuclear test ban oeaiy to other strategic arms control issues have been more explicit than past pronouncement* but have built on longstanding Chinese poirtiom.

The major nuclear power, have the greatest resporribitrty to reduce their nuclear arsenals.

Chinaovereign stale that retains the right to test if necessary. | |

Jnsi afier Preitflew (Union innounced his CTBhinese Foreign Ministry tpoke.sn.an reiterated ihe positionomplete prohibition of nuclear leMing had lo occur in the coniexi ol the thorough desBucdon of all nuclear weapons. He also noted thai China hai ihown rcttraint in testing and hat conduclcd lewa tcsu wan the

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other nuclear weapons states. Earllei in the year, Beijing had started to distance itself from the CTB issue In February the Chinese Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament told tie Perm-Five powers that China could not agree to testing moratorium or to CTB negotiations foi the near future. [

In late

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Huacpu made points ihat amplified China's earlier position and raised otrjecoora to the effects of halting nuclear sens:

China has always saappored rhe notionTB in rhe corarat of ihe complete prorubitioo and through dcstnxDon of all nuclear weapons.

NegotiationsTB should ran in parallel with talks on no first use against

apon* <UJi

M ban treaty would freere weapon* development and would disadvantage China.

Beijing has not responded positively to the United State* and other demarches regarding its currrni test preparations. China consistently has pointed out its restrained approach to nuclcai testing and the small number of tests that il has conducted compared to the nuclear superpowers. Following US public rllaclosure oneptember of the upcomingeijinj conualled newspaper in Hong Kong carried an article arguing ihat China should guard against outside interference in its efforts lo develop nuclear weapons and that it should never slack off in ihc area of national defense.

Dull.-*

TB in theill significantly impact China's ability to develop nuclear weapons for future systems However, if dr Chinese cooduci the seven planned tests phot tea CTB. they should be able to corrpleie ihe successful production of nuclear warheads for weapons sysierm currently under development I I

If the Chinese werestop testing priorornplcting most of the seven tests, they might not meet all their near-term warhead development requirements. If limited to only seven more tesu. wc believe that the Chinese would notigh prionry oa incorporating lllfc into their stockpile or developing inherenUy one-point safe primaries. In addition, if China stops nuclear testing, the confidence in iu stockpile will probably degrade with time. Mechanical and material problems are likely lo arise in the nuclear stockpile as the warheads age.TB, shrinkage in the overall knowledge baseof aoalifted, experienced designers would accelerate, thereby making it more difficult to correct stockpile problems.

We expert thai Beijing's diplomatic negotiations and public relation* maneuvering wilt comma* to emphasixe linkageuclear test ban lo no firs-use and Ihe nuclear arms redaction obligations of the United States and the former Soviet Urooc, Raising such

obstacle? allows Beijing to buy time fox workingargaining approach andthat will help to avoid restricting China's ability to develop new weapons.same time China will portray its own testing as limited in scope and beneficialWdl<onnected Chinese trunk tank researchers sponsored by the MinistrySecurity have alreadythe bitemaocnal

community would not be upset if Chinaew tests and implied thatof the Chinese tests was solely to improve weapons

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