NIE 13-8-67 COMMUNIST CHINA'S STRATEGIC WEAPONS PROGRAM

Created: 8/3/1967

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NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE

^^Communist China's Strategic ^ Weapons Program

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The following intelligence organizations participated in the preparationestimate:

Tha Central Intelligence Agency ond iho intelligence organisations of theenli of Slate and Defense, the AEC, and tho NSAii

Di. Edward'W, Proctor, tor the Deputy Diroctor, Central Intelligence Mr.ughes, the Director' of Intelligence and Research; Department

erfLt. Gen. Joseph F. Carroll, Director; Dcfonie Intelligence AgencyGov Marshall S, Carter, the Director, No'ional Security Agency Mr. Howard C;rie Aswianf. General" Manager, Atomic. Energy Com-'.

1 Abstoiningi'

Mr. William O. Cicgor, lor iho Assistant Director, Federal Bureau ofhe subject being outside of hii

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contains Information qrfertlng tbo notional security of iho Unitedof the espionoge. Codeections The la^^bWn Its tranimisiion or the revelation erf nson unovt'toeijedwell ai in 'use- if any manner otefc&Za! laof the benent otsp^oreigr, gonrmtum loStore.. indoctri-

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nated ond authorized to- receivedesignated control channels. Its security must be maintained In ocr^rdorrte^withpertoining to the/ "

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Coflrrols. fso^jefion1

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mrrrrtBayl beight have the effect of reveolingihe^eiiitertce

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CONTENTS

THE PROBLEM

CONCLUSIONS

DISCUSSION

I. NUCLEAR

Nuclear Materials rTodurtiou

Current Nuclear Weapons

IL CURRENT STATUS OK DELIVERY SYSTEM

The MRRM Program

CBM

Other Delivery Systems

Missile Submarine Program

PROJECTIONS

Tbe Nuclear

Delivery

communist china's strategic weapons program

the problem

To assess China's strategic weapons policy and programs and to estimate the nature, size, and progress of these programs Ihrough the early lOTs.

conclusions

is clear that China aspires lo great power status and thatleaders have given high priority to developing acapability as essential to such status. With wiseof their limited resources, the Clunc.se could continue toprogress toward the achievement of these goals over the

prol>able extent of actual progress will remain inso long as fanaticism and disorder continue to infectadverse effects on the advanced weapons program areany event; serious disruptions could result from pressures tomuch too soon oreneral breakdown in central authority.

probably nowew-fission weapons in stockpileby bomber, and has demonstrated the capability toweapons with megaton (mt) yields. It will soonplutonium available to aid in reducing such weapons tosize as well as to facilitate the development of moreweight fission devices. For the next year or two. theof fissionable material will place significant restraintsproduction, but this will ease significantly in theas the Yumen plutonium production reactor reaches full output.

believe that limited deployment of an MRBM withis likely to begin in tbe nest six months or so.8

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when increasing numbers of warheads could be made available, dc-pIo>Tnent will probably proceeditihtr rate. Tin's deployment would be designed to threaten US bases, and major cities from Japan through the Phihppines, southeast Asia, and northern India.

estimate that the Chinese can have an ICBM systemdeployment in tlie. Conceivably, it could beearly. But this wouldight schedule, andChinese encounter major problems, the IOC would be later.event, we will almost certainly detect extended range firingsbegin, and monitoring of these tests will probably provideyear's advance wanting of IOC.

have no basis nt this time for estimating how far orthe Chinese will cany deployment of their first-generationpolitical and economic stability, China will probablyresources tooderate and growingeyond that time frame, there is the possibilityimprovements to this first system or the development ofsolid fuel missile system based on the large complexconstniction at Hu ho haote in Inner Mongolia. Ifgood progress in the development of solid fuels forit might limit deployment of the first-generation system.

strategic delivery means have received less prioritymay begin production of someedium bombersin the now-completed plunt at Sian.

will probably not push ahead vigorously with thediesel-piiwered missile-firing submarinelass submarine launchedoes not yet have awould probably be at0 before additional missilecould be available. China has shown some interestpropulsion technology, but even if designuclearis already underway, the first unit probably could notuntil the.

political effect. China will probably attempt to launchas soon as possible. This might be accomplishedusing an MRBM with an added stageeavier payloadorbited using an early test vehicle from the ICBM program.

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loras refurbished Un CHlC-of

ission Devices. Peking announced on6 (bat it bad un that dayuclear device which had been delivereduided inlssilc.

is nooeTvceto me mmrwe tnefgiit have ttwn,believe it probably wasrom lhe Shuang-ch'cng-tzu Missile TestJust prior to thoew launch complex wasocation well away from other faculties, suggesting afor safety. This may have been the site from which tlw missileIf so. this would mean that tlw missileistance ofo tbe point of detonation in the Lop Nori urea. Woknow what type of missile was used, but the MRBM which has Iwenfor some years is thu logical

Nuclear Materials Production

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our belief tbaTU-ZTS. the Fssi.nar.Io materialll ll&sese leafs to dale, is produced at the Lanchoti uranium isotope separation plant But we are now less confident of our estimate that tbe Chinese are using the dectrornagnctic process to "top off-roduct that has been partially enriched in the gaseous diffusion cascade at Lunchou. Further analysis indicates that tlwcould be using any one of three methods: the gaseous diffusion process only, gaseous diffusion process 'topped off" with gas centrifuges, or "topping ofT with electromagndic separators.

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| it tne production is

done entirely by the gaseous dinusion process (and this would require ibe use of small, tightly packed stages operaledanner to maximize enrichment at the expense of some production capacity) it is likely that the level of output is between this minimum quantity and an amount two or three times greater. If electromagnetic "topping off" is the technique used, production rates close to the lower end of the range would be probable, considering the amount of building space available a( Lanchou. Higher production rates would require that the final enrichment be done elsewhereizableareful search has revealed no such an installation, aud we think it unlikely that it could hava escaped our notice. |

arge plutonium production reactor at the Yumenbegan operation in early

J

We Had previously below capacity for

a year or two in orderain operating experience and to minimize the chances ot equipment breakdowns. J

extract tiiis pititonium trve umnesp are pnweauuig rapiury witna chemical separation plant at Yumen. The plant should become operatjorial during the first halfhe Chinese may have pilot plant facilities that could provide some plutonium for testing before the large chemical separation plant at Yumen comes into operation.

ther Nuclearikely candidate for the source of heavywhich deuterium, one of the materials used in tJiermonuclear weapons, isbeen identified. Apparently the Chinese have followed the common practice of locating heavy water facilities at nitrogen fertilizer plants. There is an installationoviet heavy water facilityertilizer plant in Kirin Province in Manchuria.

Current Nuclear Weapons Production

n general, the Chinese seem to be giving priority to trrcrmonuclcar weapon development Certainly thermonuclear testing has been tbe greater drain on

nuclear material, and the success of the program strongly implies that China's best nuclear scientists have been concentrating on this program, f

| The Chinese leaders almost certainly woiilcT

want to have atew nuclear weapons on hand as soon as possible. |

Thus we believe the number ot weapons In stockpile is likely to be small.

e haveacility that could be China's first nuclear stockpile site. It is located aboutiles east of the nuclear weapons development and production complex near Koko Nor and appears to be nearly complete. We have recently identified constructionite aboutiles north of WushibVala airfield, which supportsp Nor test area. Its similarity to the Koko Nor facility during its early stages of construction suggests that it too may be intended for nuclear weapon storage.

II. CURRENT STATUS OF DELIVERY SYSTEM PROGRAMS

The MftBM Program

f rmssile launching* at SCTMTR, first notedxtended throughts continuingbeisthat most of tbe testing has been related to the development ofI

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| Similarly, we cannotumber of im-porUtit rletaiUthe. missile'.if or manor characteristics. Judging from what wc ice at Ihe range, the Chinese MRBM is about TO feet long, is serviced by road4ransportable equipment, probably has radio-Inertial guidance, and probably uses storablec conttmw to estimate that the Chinese have been workingnlle missile but at present our evidence only permits us to say that some of the firings deleted apparently fiVwbetween BOO.

Though tlie system is road-transportable, wc think it will require fixed sites probably involving some permanent support facilities. Considering the generally poor road network in China, tlw Chinese would probably want to locate their sites near rail linos. There is no sign of any work involving silos at SCTMTR. Hence, deployment, ai least initially, will almost certainlv be at soft srtr*

Though the Ch'eng-hsin-ticn Missile DnTlopmcnt Center (CHTMDC) near IVkmg isesearch and dcvelojMncnt! facility, it probably Is capable of producing missiles in quantities sufficientimited deploymentlant located nearby at Nanyuan appears suitable for producing airframes and possibly other missile components as well. These two facilities arc the best candidates for the production of China's MRBM.

(here ts no evidence that the Uhincse nave Begun series production at these tacflitws. Judging from Our experience with Soviet missile production, it is unlikely that we will learn the quantities of missiles being produced at any particular plant.

apparent frequency of missilet SCTMTR during Mayis greater than would be expected inhasesissile'sAlthough other expbmations are possible, the evidence seemsthat tlw Chinese are conducting at least some troop trainingthis li (ho case, preparation of field sites should already have7 plntography of somewhat more than half of China'sand have detected no such site preparation. Since we do notwhat the deployed sites will look like,! * '

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be confident that we would spot ttte first deployment sites early in their (See centerfold map.)

The ICBM Program

l-ere Is good evidence that Ihe Chinese ate working on an ICBMarge new launch facility (Launcht SCTMTR) capable ola missile in the ICBM or space boostn category, appears ready. Looking back over developrnents at CHTMDC we now beneve that the Chinese have been working on the dcvelcrptnen? of an ICBM since at least the.

At this stage in the program, we cannot say much about the systemsompletely new design cannot he ruled out it is more likely that the ICBM and MRBM programs have been closely related. For example, the clustering of MRBM-sixe engines would eliminate the need for the development of nit entirely new propulsion system, and wouldogical approach for tho Chinese to use. The missile will probablywo-stage vehicle in excesseet in length and abouteet In diameter. In order to reach the principal targets in the US, the Cliinese wouldissile systemange. Chinese test facilities appear adequate io handle engine thrusts large enough to give this range.

A storable propellant system bas important advantageseployed mhsile system. Though the evidence is not conclusive one way or the other, we believe the Chinese1 probably intend to useropellant in their ICBM. It is unlikely that the Chinese have mastered (he corn pics tiehnology of all-inertlal guidance, and their first ICBM system will probably have radio- Inert ial guidance.

Launchs apparently ready to support flight testing The first tests will probably be Brings of the first stage to distancesew hundred miles, within the borders of China. The orientation ofnd Ihc location of what Hppcars toownrango electronic station suggest that eventually there will be firingsouthwesterly direction. ICBMs fired to full range In this direction would impact in tho Indian Ocean. The Cliinese would presumably desire to provide instrumentation and communication facilities within range of the impact area. This requirement could Ik- met by land-lwised facilities, bul for both technical and political reasons we believe the Chinese arc more likely Io rely on specially equipped ships. As yet, however, wc have no evidence of preparelions to provide such facilities.

Other Mivtry Systems

Profrcrm. There is good evidence (hat in thewere helping the Chineselant at Sian for ihe production of the

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(Badger) jet medium bomber. Work on this plant, which was Interrupted in the earlywax resumed in3 or4 nnd II now appear* COtupletn.he Chinese still intend to producelm plant could turn out ils (list aircraft late this year or inS.

Missih Submarine Program

lite Chinese apparently retain an interestubmarine launched missile system, but ihere is some evidence to suggest lhat the programeen delayed for some reason or other. Cruna'slass submarine was launched laic4 and began rutting to sea occasionallyear later No newof this class have been identified under corsstructioii. however, and the existing one bas never been detected in anything but routine underwayFurthermore, at about the time the Cbinese were buildinglass they were also workingpecial wharf facility which we believe is for missile handling, but this facility has remainedtate of semicotnplction.

We have no direct evidence for judging what kind of submarine launched missileuvivnge or when ihey may have one available.vr not detected any lesllng ofissile but it is possible tli.it sumo of fhe missile engine static testing at Chang-hsm-tien and flight lesting al Shuang-ch'eng-tzu could be connect edubmarine missile system. While land-lwed tests could remain unidentified, il is less likelyea-lMiwvl teal program would long avoid detection. Atear of sea-based launching* would probably be required lo test oulubmarine launclied balltolc missile (SLBM) system.

Space Program. The acting Chief of Staff of ihe People* Liberation Army has been quoted in Red Guard newspapers as claiming lhat tlie Chinese wiD

pace launchrimarily for political reasons, the Chinese will probably try Io put something into space as soon as possible, and il could occur

this year. Onehe launchingmall satellite using an MRBM

with an added stage. Another is the launchingeavier payload with an carry

test vehicle from the ICBM program.

III. PROSPECTS

determination needs to be taken iulo account whenlikely futuro scope and pace of their strategic weapon* program.alone will not solve the many practical problems facing theIn planning, design, nnd testing, the Cliinese no doubt luwn lxnioGtcdfoundatfam laid during the period of Soviet assistance. Bul in tlwof MRBM* a* well as in the testing of ICBMs and ibe fabrication of suitable

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warheads, the Chinese are dependent primarily cm tlieir own technology nod on whatever they canorn non-Communist sources. They will continue to profit significantly from iheir access lo Japanese and West ICuropean technology and from their ability to purchase industrial plant, sophisticated instruments, and scarce materials from these sources. But this can only partially Offset theof China's relatively limited technological and industrial base. We think it likely that they svlll encounter difficulties in moving from RAD to the industrial production of the cornpooents of complex weapons systems. And whendcsc solve their production problems, they will still face an intensefor scarce rosources.

Chinese military planners must recognize lhat in tbe foreseeable future China cannot begin to match Ihe nuclear striking power of tbe US. They probably also realize that tlie credibilityeterrent of their first-generation systems will suffer becauso those systems wouldour chance of surviving an offensive strike and would be vulnerable to some degree to defensive systems the US is capable of deploying. In order to concentrate on developing improved andsystems that wouldore impressive credibilityhreat andeterrent, Peking might opt foroken deployment of its earliest sveapons. Against this, however, Peking would probably weigh the Judgment that more than token deployment of its first ICBM would be worthwhile because it would enhance its leverage on Asian countries, would have increased deterrent effect on tbe US, and would generally pay important poUttcal and psychological dividends.

The Chinese must also strike some balance in the allocution of resources as between intercontinental and regional strategic forces anil Iwtween weapons systems within the regional force. Rather than concentrating all resources on, say, an ICBM program, the Chinese probably believe that dicy could more quickly enhance their overall mditary posture by allocating some of their limited meansorce which could hold much of Asia hostage. Within the regional force concept, the idea of producing moreewombers as weapons carriers might lose some of Its attraction for tbe Chinese, if they were able toeliable and mobile MRBM or an IRRM capable of deliveringweapons.

To fuill*er lOTiipliiute the situation, there remains the question of political and economic order in China. Thus far, the pobtical upheaval in China does not seem to have affected the strategic weapons program; the regime has exercised particular care to Insulate the nuclear and missile program fiotn il. But gradually small bits of evidence have accumulated which suggest that some longer term harm may have been done to tlie administration and organization of the programs.

example, according'd Guard pollers, revolutionary strifein the governmcnlal minivtrie*for nuclear and missileThe head of the National Defense .Scientific and TeclinologyNfeh Jung-chen. has come under *poradic attack. Another possiblepolitical interference is the distinctup Forward" flavor of Peking'streatment of (he recent siith nuclear (est. Unnamed advocates ofproblems step by step have been uiticiwd while "revoluticrriary"and technicians who were not afraid to take bold short cuts have Though thb is do doubt partly propaganda |

could mark the mtruskon of political pressures into the advanced

weapons program. Tiros, despite tbe priviledged status of these programs, it will be irKreasingly difficult for Peking to shield them from unrealistic demands for spectacular progress, from the unhealthy political aunospberc in China, and from the genera) erosioa of eeonotnic efficiency and managerial control.

is difficult to judge bow much our basic calculations of the timedevelop, produce, and deploy various kind* of mUitary hardware shouldto take account of these weaknesses. Il may be lhat we haveunderestimated the Chinese, and it t* pussihlc that they will be able toof their programs to fruitionapid schedule bik! to produce andweapon systems In substantial quantities. Hut (lie odds are betterChinese will have to make cnmpromltm, perhaps stretching out someand settling, at least initially, for limited deployments.

IV. PROJECTIONS

is clear that China atpires lo great power status and thai it;believeubstantia] strategic capability is essential to suchserious pohheal and mMaafjO upsets in (Jiina, we believe tbe(be resources to make stead) and Impressive progress toward theofapability. Al (he nine lime, we would stress lhat tbewill be limned in scope, and In qualitative and quantitativeover the neat decade by ihe industrial,nd skilledweaknesses* of China. If China should attempt too much too soon,consequences could be highly disruptive both for an orderlyprogram and for ihe economy in general.

7he Nwdstar Proorom

l least Cliinese fissionable materials will be limited tofrom the Yumen reactor anilroduction plan! atamounts are noi Inconsiderable, however, and once plutonium devices have

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th* Chineseubstantia] ICBM deployment programwarheads, and if they have already made good progress fa solving thetechnical problems involved, we would expert to see efforts tocapacity some time in tbe next year or two.lant, it would take about three years for production

Da/ivary Systems

MRBM Deploymenl. As suggested aboveetbe Chinese MltBM stiould be ready for deployment7S. Kvidenofl respecting trooj) training is not conclusive, however, and evidence on other preparations for deployment is lacking. Tills leaves open the possibility that little or no deplo>'mcnt of tlie MRBM is planned. It could be Unit tlie principal purpose of the MRBMwas to develop technology for an ICBM.

We think it more likely, however, that significant deployment is intended and tlsat It will begin within the next six months or so. For tho next year or two, however, the availability of nuclear warheads is likely to limit MHBM deployment.

RBM deployment will probably be designed to give sovorngc to targets in the arc stretching from Japan through the Philippines, southeast Asia, and northern India. The Chinese objective might be to provide coverage of important military bases and population centers within this area, Imping In this way to hold Asian countries hostage against any US threats to China. They might consider that this couM be aieomplishcd by the deployment of0 MRBM launchers in fixed, soft

B.urlng economic or politKid

disrupt*.ns we believe that China will proceed with MRBM deploymentas above, although it may be tbeefore deployment on this

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scale is achieved For both rrdlitary and political reasons we do not anticipate any early deployment of MBBMs directed at the USSR, although some of those MRBMs located in Manchuria would have the capability of hitting targets in the Soviet Union.

IRBM. If, as we believe, tbe Chinese are workingile MRBM and an ICBM, there would bearginal requirement for an IRBM,we see no evidence of any such program and consider any early Chinese efforts to develop an IRBM unlikely.

ICBM Deployment. We estimate that the Chinese can have an ICBM system ready for deployment in thes. Conceivably, it could be ready as raily, But this wouldight schedule and makes allowance for only minor difficulties and delays. We have no evidence that flight testing of the ICBM has even begun. Should the Chinese encounter major problems, the IOC of an ICBM would be later. In any event, wo will almost certainly detect extended range firings once they begin, and monitoring of these tests will probably provide about one year's advance warning of IOC. With further nuclear tests, the Chinese should havene to three mt thermonuclear warhead suitable for their ICBM.

We have no basis at this time for estimating how far the Chinese will carry deployment of their first-generation ICBM. In view of the requirements of other military programs and the pressure on resources, however, we believe deployment will proceedoderate pace and well below any possible maximums. By moderate wc mean that5 the number of operational ICBM launchers might fall somewhere between

Additional information bearing on Ihe probable scope of both the MRBM and ICBM programs should be available over tbe next year. In the meantime, we have some clues suggesting that the Chinese are already at work on follow on systems. The best evidence of thisarge installation the Chinese are building at Hu-ho-hao-te in Inner Mongolia which wc behove is for testing andcomposite solid fuel rocket motors. This complex is still underand It will probably be at least three years before motors developed here could be ready for flight testing. Thus, it is too early to tell what kind of missile tho Chinese arc working on. But the fairly large size of the static test facilities at this installation suggests that some kind of long-range system is envisaged

Medium Bombers. We believe the Chinese intend to produce theomber at Sian.edium bomberombat radiusm. would give more range than an MRBM and would provide an interim carrier for thermonuclear weapons. It would also add flexibility to Chinas mibtaryFinally, the Chinese may consider it useful to follow through on tho original plan (which dates from the) forroduction in order to gain experience useful in the future development of larger aircraft. Few if

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any TU-lftt could lie available before2 there could ber so assigned to operational units. By that time, il isollow-on bomber could bo In the early stagesnd would cvcnluallv replace theorce.

f tbe Chinese plan Io use theirircraft against naval and other clearefined radar targets, they would probably produce some ot them in an air-to-surface missile (ASM) configuralion. The Chinese probably have the capability to develop an ASM,5. range, and givenompatible nuclear warhead. But in view of Ihe pleasures of other programs, we would not expect to see an operational ASM.

issileSubmaruics. We believe that diwolopmenl of an SLBM system will continue to sufferackriority lor years.

|o gyinenpe rnar tneij-ciass submarines, inus. It would probably be at0 before additional missile launching submarines could be available. The Cliinese have shown some mterest in nuclear-powered submarine technology, but, oven if they have already started working on designingulwnorine, the first unit probably could not be operational until flie.

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