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

Created: 8/3/1967

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INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE

ai

China's Strategic Weapons Program

The following intoUigenco organizations parlicipafod in tho preparation

The Ccnirol Intelligence Agency ond the Intelligenceef tho Oeport-menlt ot Stoto and CWfcnw, tho AEC, and Ihe KSA.

Concurring!

-

Or.. Proctor, tor ihe Deputy Director. Central Intelligence Mr. Thomai L. Hughei. the Director of Intelligence and Research. Deportment of Stole

If. Gen. Joteph f. Carroll, Director. Defenio Intelligence Agency

It. Gen. Marshall S. Carter, the Director, Notional Security Agency

Mr.rown, tho AsiiUant General Monoger, Alomlc Energy CommUUon

Abstaining,

Mr. William O. Cregcr, for ihe Aiintaru Director, Federal Bureau o' InveHigolion. the wbioct being owhide of hii iumdici on.

T

JRET

COMMUNIST CHINA'S STRATEGIC WEAPONS PROGRAM

THE PROBLEM

To assess Chinas strategic weapons policy and programs and to

na,Ure- *tas' and progrcssthrough

CONCLUSIONS

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

probable 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 centra! 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 case significantly in theas the Yumen plutonium production reactor reaches full output.

believe that limited deployment of an MRBM withIs likely to begin in the next six months or so. 8

when increasing numbers of warheadsade available,will probably proceedigher rate. This deployment would be designed to threaten US bases, and major cities from Japan through the Philippines, Southeast Asia, and northern India.

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

have no basis at this time for estimating bow far orthe Chinese will carry 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.

strategic delivery means have received less prioritymay begin production of someedium bombersin the plant at Siau.

will probably not push ahead vigorously with Uiediesel-powered missile-firing submarineIass submarine launched4 docs 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 thes,

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

DISCUSSION

I. Genera! CoyUUraUons. Wc now see more dearly the broad ratlines of

HS work on an

Z Clil 0 production of fissionable material, and the

hese

Ibe last year and these efforts clearly

BU'bear crib'

f*<hc future pace .nd scone of tho program parbcuUriv wul, respectroduction and deployment over the neTfive

t^'in nVlW he Cultural Revolu-

he advanced weapon, program, but wc doubt that it has been com-picieiy immune.

jl Wc have little evidence on Chinese linking with respect to the role of

ould' greatly

..tmnoe thear prestige and strengthen their claims to leadership in Asia and

rtrZ^ a"^ ion of a

rtrategic ^pabihty would give them greater security in supporting rcvolu-bonaryarticularly inand that it would seriTtn iLeTtii dangers of nuclear strikes on China itself for any reason. In other wort the Chrnese may bebeve that the ability to strike the us and targets io Asia with oudeax weapons -Wd serve lo limit us nrilkary operations in Aria,eep any cWt confrontation a, the level of coo vent,my where mc ^mnese would raped to enjoy many advantages.

i. nuclear program

arge plutonium reactor and

lutonium. There is good evidence that thereuclear energyYumen. We believe thrtnr and

chemical separation facilities. to producegs of

Currenf Nuclear Weapons Production

n general, the Chinese seem to be giving priority to thermonuclear weaponinry thermonuclear testing has been the 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.1

II. CURRENT STATUS OF DELIVERY SYSTEMMRBM Program

_iLr

Wc continue to estimate that the ChineseOQ.mlle missile but at present, our evidence only permits us to say that some of the firings detected apparently flew somewhereun.

li We beheve (hat Iheoad transportaWe but that It will iwuire flwd sites probably involving tome pamaoent support facilities. Cooadennp Ihc genexany poor road network In China, Use Chinese would probably want to locate their sites near rail lines. DcploymeDt, at least Initially, wil! almostbe at soft sites.

the Chang-hilii-tien Missile Development CenterPeking Isesearch and development (BAD) facility, itcapable of producing missile, in quantities sufficientimitedA plant located nearby at Nanyuan may be suitable forand possibly other missile components as well. These twoIbe best candidate* for the production of China's MRBM. There isthat tbe Chines* have begun series production at thesefrom our experience with Soviet missile production, it Is unlikelywUl lean, the quantities of missiles being produced at any particular plant

velopn>cnt. Although other epilations are possible, the evidence looms to indicate that the Chinese are conducting at least tome troop training firings. If this is the case, preparation oi field sites should already have begun, but we have DO evidence of this.

The ICBM Program

There Is good evidence that the Chinese are working on an ICBMarge launch faculty capable ofissile in tlie ICBM or space Wc category may be ready. We now believe that the Chinese have been working on tlie development of an ICBM since at least the.

At this stage in the program, we cannot say much about the system's crurecterbtics.ompletely new design cannot be ruled out.ore likely that the ICBM and MRBM programs have been closely related. For example, tlie clustering of MKBM-slzc engines would eliminate tbe need for the development of an entirely new propulsion system, and wouldogical approach for the Chinese to use. The missile will probablywo-stage vehideto excessengtlibouteet to diameter. In order to reach the principal targets in the US. tbe Chinese wouldissile systemangem. Chinese test facihties appear adequate to handle engine thrusts large enough to give this range.

A storablc propellant system has important advantageseployed missile system. Though the evidence is not conclusive one way or the other, we believe the Chinese probably intend to useropellant in their ICBM.nlikely tha! the Chinese have mastered tlie complex technology' of all-iaeroal guidance, and their Erst ICBM system will probably have radio-Inertia! guidance.

Hie first tests will probably he firings of Uie first stage to distancesew hundred miles, within Ihc borders of China. Full range firings would require impact areas outside China, probably on tlie high seas. The Chinese would presumably desire lo provide mstnirnentatioo and communication facilities wnhin range of the impact area. This requirement could be met by land-based facilities, but for both technical and poBtkal reasons we believe the Chinese are more likely to rery on specially equipped slupi. As yet. however, we have no evidence of preparations to provide such factlitic*.

O'her Delivery Sysfcms

lft Bomber Program.ood evidence that to the Uie lflSOs the Soviets were helping the Chineselant at Star, for tl* production of theBadger) jet medium bomber. Work on this plant, which was interrupted in thes, was resumed34 androbably now complete. It could turn out its first aircraft late this year or In

Missile Submarine Program

he Chinese apparently reUin an interestubmarine launched missile system, but (here is some evidence to suggest that the urogram lias been delayed lor some reason orChin.',Iass submarine was launched late in IBM. No new submarines of this class have been identified under construction, however.

Si WvdUCCi CVidcnCC for 'udS'nB whal of submarine launched musue the Chinese may envisage or when they may have one available- We have not detected any testing ofissile. While land based teat, could remain unidentified, it is loss likelyea-baied test program would long avoid detection. Atear of sea-based launching! would probably be required to test outubmarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) system

Space Program. The acting Chief of Staff of the Peoples LiberationDccn quoted in Hod Guard newspapers as claiming that the Chinesea apace launchrimarily lor political reasons, (he Clnnesetry to put sccacthing into space as soon as possible, and it couldP<mibflitylaunchingmall satellite using anan added stage Another is the launchingeavier payload with anvehicle from the ICBM

III. PROSPECTS

hinese determination need* to bo taken into account when considering die likely future scope and pace of their strategic weapons Mograrn. But determination alone wit! not solve the many practical problems facing the Chi-nest in planning, design, and testing, the Chinese no doubt have benefited from tbe foundations hud during the period of Soviet assistance. But In tlwof MRBMs as well as ia the testing of ICBMs and the fabrication of suitable warheads, the Chineae ue dependent primarily on their own technology and on whatever they can gain from non-Communist sources. They will continue to profit rigwftcanuy from their access lo Japanese and West European ledmology ami trom tbeir ability to purchase industrial plant, sophisticated uutnunents. and scarce materials from these sources. But this can only partially offset theof Oiina's relatively limited technological and Industrial base. Wo think it likely tbat they will encounter difficulties in movingo the induvlnal prcJucrioo of the components of complex weapons systems. And when the Chinese solve their production problems, they will still face an Intensefor scarce resources.

hinese military planners must recognizehe foreseeable future China cannot begin to match the nuclear striking power of the US. They probably also realize that the credibilityeterrent of their first-general ion systems will suffer because these systems wouldoor chance of surviving an offensive strike and would be vulnerable to some degree to defensive systems the US is capableoyiog. In order to concentrate oo developing improved

and refined systems thai wouldore impressive credibilityhreat andeterrent, Peking might opt foroken deployment of Its earliest weapons. Against this, however, Peking would probably weigli the judgment that more than token dcploymcot of its first ICBM would be worthwhile because it would enhance its leverage on Asian countries, would have increased deterrent effect on the US, and would generally pay important political and psychological dividends.

he Chinese must also strike some balance in the allocation of resources as between intercontinental and regional strategic forces and between weapons systems within the regional force. Bather than concentrating all resources on, say. an ICBM program, the Chinese probably believe that they could more quickly enhance their overall military 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 the Chinese, if they were able toeliable and mobile MRBM or an IRBM capable of deliveringweapons.

To further complicate the situation, tbere remains the question of political and economic order in China. Thus far, the political 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 from it But gradually small bits of evidence have accumulated which suggest that some longer term harm may have been done to the administration and organization of the programs.

For example, according to Hod Guard posters, revolutionary strife has occurred in the governmental ministries responsible for nuclear and missileThe head of the National Defense Scientific and TechnologyNich Jung-chen, has come under sporadic attack Another possible sign of political interference is the distinct "Leap Forward" flavor of Peking'streatment of tbe recent sixth nuclear test Unnamed advocates of solving scientific problems step by step have been criticized while "revolutionary"and technicians who were not afraid to take bold shortcuts have been extolled. Though this is no doubt partly propaganda [

it could mark tlie intrusion of polilical pressures inio the advanced weapons program. Thus, despite the privfledged statu* of these programs, it will be increasingly difficult for Peking to shield litem from unrealistic demands for spectacular progress, from tbe unhealthy political atmosphere in China, and from the general erosion of economic efficiency and managerial control.

2S. It is difficult to judge bow much our basic calculations of the bine required to develop, produce, and deploy various kinds of military hardware should be adjusted to take account of these weaknesses. It may be that we haveunderestimated the Chinese, and it is possible that Ihey will be able to bring most of their programs to fruitionapid schedule and to produce and deploy various weapon system* In substantial quantities. But the odds are better that

IV. PROJECTIONS

is dear that China aspires to great power status and that itsbelieveubstantial strategic capability is essential to suchserious political and economic upsets in China, wc believe thethe resources to make steady and impressive progress toward theofapability. At the same time, we would stress that thewill be limited in scope, and in qualitative and quantitativeover die next decade by tbe Industrial, tec^ological, and skilledweaknesses of China. If China should attempt too much too soon,consequences could be highly disruptive both for an orderlyprogram and for the economy in general

The Nuclear Program

t least, we would expect that Chinese fissionablebe limited to the output from the Yumen reactor andat Lanchou. Estimated Chinese fissionable material productionis given in the tabic below.

the Chineseubstantial ICBM deployment programwarheads, and if they have already made good progress in solving thetechnical problems involved, we would expect efforts to expandsome tunc in the next year or two. Once construction startedlant, it would take about three years for productiono begin.

Del/very Systems

Deployment. As suggested above wc believe that theshould be ready for deployment7videncetraining Is not conclusive, however, and evidence on otherdeployment is lacking This leaves open die possibility that little orof the MRBM is planned. It could be that tbe principalthe MRBM program was to develop technology for an ICBM,

TO

however, the availability of nuclear warheads is likely to limit MRBM deployment

MRBM deployment will probably be designed to give coverage to targets in the arc stretching from Japan through theoutheast Asia, and northern India. The Chinese objective might be to provide coverage of important military bases and population centers within this area, hoping In this way to bold Asian countries hostage against any US threats to China. They might consider that this could bo accomplished by the deployment of0 MRBM launchers In fixed, soft sites. Barring economic or political disruption* we believe that China will proceed with MRBM deployment some what as above, although It may be theefore deployment on this scale Is achieved. For both military and political reasons we do not anticipate any early deployment of MRBMs 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, the 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 earlyfforts 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 carry. 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 mafor problems, the IOC of an ICBM would be later. In any event, we will almost certainly detect extended ran go firings once tbey 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 tbe requirements of other military programs and the pressure on resources, however, wc believe deployment will proceedoderate pace and well below any possible maximums. By moderate we mean that5 the number of operational ICBM launchers might fall somewhere between

Medium Bombers. We believe the Chinese intend to produce tlieomber at Sian. edium bomberombat radius.

would give more range than an MRBM and would provide an interim carrier for thermonuclear weapons. It would also add flexibility to China's militaryFinally, the Chinese may consider it useful to follow through on tbe original plan (which dates from thes) forroduction in order to gain experience useful in tie- future development of larger lurcraft. Few if anyould be available beforeut2 there could ber so assigned to operational units. By that time, il isollow-on bomber could be in the carry stagesnd would eventually replace theorce.

If the Chinese plan to use theirircraft against naval and other clearly denned radar targets, they would probably produce some of them In an air-to-ttuface rnissile (ASM) configuration. The Chinese probably have the capability to develop an ASM,5an. range, and given time, anuclear warhead But in view of tho pressures of other programs, we would not expect to see an operational ASM system.

Miitile launching Submarine* We believe that development of an SLBM system will continue to saferack of priority for several

toes, in nuclear-powered submarine tecClogvT

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