Created: 1/27/1965

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Communist China's Advanced Weapons Program

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-Concvrred in by ihe UNITED STATES INTELLIGENCE BOARD As Indicated75

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Communist China's Advanced Weapons Program











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communist china's advanced weapons program


To assess the current state of Communist China's nuclear weapons and missile program and, insofar as possible, estimate the future course and size of that program.


Although we haveonsiderable amount ofood deal of overhead photography) in the past year or so, there remain serious gaps in our information and we are therefore not able to judge the present state or to project the future development of the Chinese program with any high degree ofThe specific judgments in this paper should be read in the light of this general caution.


A. Communist China's first nuclear test on4 was of an implosion fission devices the fissionable material

|Wc cannot estimate with confidence its weight or dimensions but believe it was relatively large and heavy. The most likely source ofas uranium first brought to partial enrichment in the gaseous diffusion facility at Lan-chou and then further enriched by the electromagnetic process. We cannot, however, rule out the possibility tliatas of Soviet or other non-Chinese origin though we believe this to be highly unlikely.

A weapon in bomb con-hgiirafion couki be available somewliat earlier and could be delivered by the Chinese air force's light8 lioinhers of which they have.

weno ^hkIlor estimating the currentproduction of fissionablen-licve that the Chineseenough material during the next two years to conduct awith enough left over to stockpile atew bombs.of no facility under construction which would cause ain fissionable material production until what wc believe tolarge reactor under construction at Yumen is completed. Thisa minimum of two years and probably longer. )

evidence leads us to estimate that theedium-range ballistic missileethis system isoviet design, probably thewith some Chinese modifications. It is possible thatcouldew MHBMs ready for deployment withfission warheads7 )

Chineseubmarine closely similar in outwardto theubmarine which is designed ton.m. ballistic missiles while surfaced. We do not knowChinese built this submarine or assembled componentsthe USSR, or what missile they expect to put in it. We havethat the Chinese arc constructing any more of this typeand it would be at least several vears before any unitsoperational with Chinese-produced missiles.

Soviets provided tlie Chinese with some surface-to-air(SAMs) bye have no evidence to confirm orthe Soviets liave furnished any more, since then and we do notmany such missiles are now in China. The Chinese have afor SAMs and wc believe are working hardroduction


program. There arc indications that the Chinese are now producing some kind of surface-to-air missile, either Soviet-type SAMshinese version. The evidence is not sufficient toirm judgment hut we think it highly unlikely that either willarge scale for two or three years. )

C. It is unlikely that the Chinese willeliverableweapon for several years, and there is little chance of ancapability until (Poms.


The Chinese Communist detonation al Lop Nor onramatic incident in PeipingS determined effort toodern nuclear power. During the past year oi so theie hasubstantial increase in our information on the Chinese advanced weapons programs,ood deal of overhead photography. We believe that the Chinese had at least planned or begun construction on virtually al) their major advanced weapons facilitieshen they wci'c stillroad range of Soviet assistance, Wc do not know tbe precise extent of involvement ol the Soviets In all these projects, but there is good evidence that tltey provided the Chinese with considerable technical and material assistance. We believe this included an experimental nuclear reactor, facilities for processing uranium, some equipmentaseous diffusion plant, assistance inissile test range, the equipmentewir missile sites, andew surface-to-surfaceAlthough much of the progress wc have observed to date results from earlier Soviet help, it is difficult to judge how much progress was achieved through Chinese efforts, aided by the considerable amount of information on Free World nuclear developments that is available in open literature.

Communist China is almost certainlyarger proportion of its scientific and technical resources to the development of advanced weapons than any other nation. Althoughesolute diversion of resources enhances the prospect for successes in someorced-draft effort restingery limited scientific, technological, and industrial base is susceptible to numerous difficulties. Thus the Chinese are likely to he forced to some expedients and make-shift adaptations for which US, Soviet, British, and French experience is no precedent, and which will accordingly be hard for us to detect or predict.


Chinas First Nuclear Test. Our observations of theat the test sitep Nor iu Sinkiang preceding theand our analysis of excellent samples of the test debris, indicateChinese Communists' first nuclear detonationas ,iexperiment ["


lie weight and dimensions or

employed. We do not. believe that Chinese technology in these fields is comparable to that achieved by other countries after several yean of testing. Furthermore it Is likely thai tbe Chinese woukl have been conservative in their desiftns and dimensions in order lo minimize (lie chances of failure in their first testj-

The Source of IheWe cannot identity the source ofsed by tbe Chinese in their first nuclear test. It could haveobtainedoreign source, but we behave that the most likely .tourer is ChineseAnalysis of lite nuclear debris from the Chinese test sbuws that the ratios of uranium botopes in tlie Chinese material dirVr (rum those of the highly enriched uranium produced by the USSR and the US since around the. We have been informed by the UK (bat all theiras ratios of uranium isotope* different from those of tbe Chinese test. All US highlyroduued foi export under bilateral agreements has ratios of uranium Isotopes diflerent from those of the Chineve device In addition, the US-UK-cxportcd material is under continuing safeguard* Including fnspec-tion and accounting which give reasonable assurance that kilogram quantitiesould not have been secretly diverted. The only highlyhich we know to be in French possession is of US origin and has isotope ratios different from the materia) used in the Chineseome uf the Sovieturanium produced earlier than the, however, may havethat used by tbe Oiiinesr.

We cannot therefore, rule out tbe possibility of Soviet origin on purely technical grounds- We believe it catremeh. unlikely that the Sovietsor the teal alter mid-IflfO, but tbey could liavc dune >i> Miiiietiine- beforeeriod of <ri*is In Sino-Soviet relations. If so. It Is difficult to explain why more than four years elapsed before tbe first test. To explain the delay on technical gruumls would that the Chinese are iar more retarded in iheir nuclear technology than we believe is the case. Another explanation wouldeliberate decision In delay. Tbe Chinese, knowingong hiatus between the first and sulaequenf tests would reveal to the world thai China wasuclear power In its own right, might have refrained from using the Soviet-supplied material until they cnuld follow up quickly wilh further tests using domestically produced matiiial Tliis line of reasoning would lead, therefore, to tbe conclusion thai the Chinese are now (Widen! of ibeir own production capability. In addition, the cirointstances andhe developing Sino-Soviet dispute suggests that tlie Soviets did not supply. Sudi rernarks as Soviet officials havr made on tbe matter are contradictory and whollyWe know, however,oviet refusal ino provide tbc Chinese with further nuclear weiqioii technology was one of tlie critical issues in the

dispute. The Chinese have also charged in their polemics that the Soviets9 refused toample atomic weapon. In the light of all thesewe believe that the Soviets did not provideor CHlC-1.

Therearge facility in Communis! China on the Yellow River nearWe have good quality overhead photography obtained over several years but there am major limitation* ikicmiol from such photography. For instance, it does not. of course. ilnm what is inside buildings. Tbe facility lias elaborate physical security |wolectlon including anti-aircraft defenses. We believe this facility includes gasaxau diffusion equipment for the production. The equipment was probably supplied by tbe USSR7. We believe this facility in it. present state couldf low enrichment by gaseous diffusioningle-past operation. Photographic evidence suggests that some pmdin-tmfi in tin- existing buildings could have startedlaige building would be lequued to house suthVicni additional equipment to permit productioii oi highlyy normal gaseous diffusion lochniquc> Tlie layout indicates that plans originally includeduilding but no construction has been started.

Wc believe, therefore, that the Ijuiehou facility was not responsiblen CHIC'l by lite gaseous- diffusion process alone but that another process was also involved. nrolMbly an electromagnetic separation fa-cUity. |

Wc believe tliat bad such production taken

place, tba Chinese would have fabricated their first device as vxm as the requisite amount of fissionable material was at hand.

here are otheror producing; only two of these, the gas centrifuge and tlie electromagnetic TtihiiMjnr have been sufficiently developed to be cMunoored as possibilities for tbe Chtoese. It Is highly unlikely that the Chinese have developed some third process The gas centrifuge process has never been developed beyond tbe experimental stage In the Free World.

'Innd othn dUmialon* ol gaswini dilution itevel ui trd. nologyoiiipantbJr lo what we lute ruiinnlrsl th" Siivktt achiewd tn the aikl-IBou*.

There is no persuasive evidence thai the Soviets have produced gas centrifuges in significant numbers and none that tliey have given any to the Chinese. We do not believe that the Chinese have attained the manufacturing capability and technology required for domestic production of tlie necessary large numbers of suitable centrifuges.

Electromagnetic technology, on Ihe other hand, is well developed and almost certainly within the knowledge and competence of the Chinese. An all-electromagnetic process would produce isotope ratios different from thoseinombuialion ol the gaseous diffusion process for partial enrichment and tlie electromagnetic process lorupping-oH" could have produced material like that used in the Chinese device. We incline to tbe view, dierefore, thatsed in China's first nuclear detonation was produced through low enrichment by gaseous diffusion at Lanchou, with final enrichment by electromagnetic separation.

An analysis of the buildings, physical lay-out- and power available at Lanchou suggests that the Chinese could have both gaseous diffusion andequipment there. It is also possible that partial enrichment was done at Lanchou and the electromagneticwas done at some other location. Suitable photography is available for aboutercent of China and all the areas which show the requisite high security precautions plus available buildings and power have been examined. No electromagnetic facility has been identified but we estimate thatlant could exist in the other known atomic energy sites. It is further possible that there is an electromagnetic facility in some part of China not yet covered by usable photography.

CwretU Production of. We have no good basis fora prolrable level of China's production of highly J

_ the production capacity of combined gaseous diffusion and electromagnetic processes in the Lanchou facility oould be greater than this

minimum. |

ufoniwm Piodutfion Sires. Theremall air-cooled reactor located at Pao-t'on which we believe is now produciug plutoniurn. Details of this reactor's progress, as seen in photography, indicate that it probably began operation in3 otlthough some evidence suggests that the reactor started up in Wc estimate that the l'ao-t'ou reactor has a


ol aboutgs of plutoniurn. f

large industrial complex has been under construction since at9 near yumenemote area of kansii province. among the projects under construction al this complex is what we believe toarge nuclear reactor. the rate of progress to date indicates that it will be at least two years before it can begin operation.

thereuch smaller, completed building at yumen, which apparentlyacilityater coolant system. although ihe building is unusually small forurpose, this couldmall water-cooled reactor, operatingange of someegawatts. if iteactor and assuming it has been operating since3 at the mid-point of the eslimaled power0s much usgs of plutoniurn could have beenby tlie endnnual production would heate of aboutgs per year.

from the foregoing it is apparent that wc have no good basis for esti-mating the current level of china's tolal production of fissionable material.


ine chinese capability lo produce weapons el of technology and fabricating facilities


uture Production. the ouly identified facility which couldignificant jump in china's fissionable material production fa what we believe toarge reactor under construction at yumen. completion willinimum of two years and probably louger. when in full operation it will probably be able togs ofear. tbe failure of the chinese to build the second cascade building at lanchou indicates to us that the chinese were unable to make all the highly intricate equipment needed to permit tlie production of highlyt lanchouontinuous diffusion process. even if tbe chinese began construction now on another cascade building there, it would probably be at least three years before the additional plant could begin production.

uture Tests. there is evidence that the chinese are preparing for another test at lop nor. probably within the next few months.

We know ul no iacilities in China for producing the heavy water needed to produce deuterium but Small amounts of heavy water could be obtained abroad or perhaps from that in the Soviet-supplied experimental reactor. Tbe lithium might be producedacility we have not vet dejected.

Weapons Denelapmiml. We havearge complex under con-sbuction near. Koko Nor in Tsinghai Province that we believeuclear weapons research, development, and production facility. Construction here has obviouslyigh priority, elaborate security precautions have been taken and some of the installations in the complexesemblance to Soviet weapon sites. The facility is apparently nearly completed, and some portions of it may already be in operation.

If they so chose, the Chinese could now build bombs based on the results of their first teat which could be carried by their twoBadger) medium jet bombers o* by theirr so TU-lshe Chinese will almostgive first claim on their supply of fissionable material to the development of more sophisticated designs, but we do not rule out the possibility that the Chinese are even now attempting loew weapons based on tbe test


a bomb could be dc-

by Ihe Chinese air force'sight jet bombers of which tbey have


Medium-Range Surface-to Surfott' Hallutiv MhaUei. Wi believe the Chinese Communists areedium-range ballistic miviile. The Sbuang-cb'eng>tzu missile test rangeesigned to permit theof siuface-to-surfaee missiles upange of about LOOO nautical miles. There tt good evidence that tbe Soviets helped develop SCTMTR, and they probably were involved in carry testing activity there. We bchrv* that byhen tbe majorf Soviet technicians bad beeenthe USSR had provided the Chinese with some Sovietup to. Our information on activity at SCTMTIt is limited lo overhead photography and fragmentary COMl.N'T. Because of the geographic remoteness of the lange, we are unable Io colled intelligence such aswhich is critical to our analysis of Soviet missile systems. We believe ihat operations at the range liegan in1 with some kind of SSM tests and that there were further filings2ut we believe the rale of firing was sporadic and limited. Activity- ar tbc range apparently was stepped up

Communist China's iimstte research and development center tt located atuburb of Peiping. We hebeve that this facility began static trstlng of missilesudging from tbe layout and tbef the rocket engine test stands, this complex appears suitable foi developingurface ballistic missiles to at least tlie MRBM size. It appears large enough to permit limited series production of missiles.

tvW> siirrace-io-stifi cilities at SCTMTR.

Chinese extended one of launch, pads and modified some of ihe support fa-

Thus the availablegeographic limi-

he length oi SCTMTR, the substantial missile develop mentClung hsin-ticn, the launch facility mwlificalion, the graduallyof

suggest that flight testing begantincsc-produced medium range missilehe latter part

heuggests that the Chinese are workingissile hated on the design of the Sovietissile would be capable, when fully dcvrlopcd. ofayload ofound* lo the maximumrangeautical milev. It tt possible that tlie Chinese could linve


a few medium range missiles ready for deployment7lthough die system might still have problems of reliability and accuracy. Also, assuming consistent success in their nuclear program (see especiallynde estimate that the Chinese could possibly have fission warheadswith these missiles7

nwitrurntfe Ballistic Missiles | the Chinese

received someile rang'- velutuLir mounted missiles prior tomay have been testing or training eatresses

wirh IhU type missile"

smaller of the vuHare-to-surface launch facilities at SCTMTtl mayenewed inlenut on the part of the Chines*hort-range tactical missile system. However, we believe it unlikely that the Chinese would ut this stage divert much of their scarce scientific tiilcnt ami fissionable material to theand manufacture of nuclear warheads for this type of missile.

urface-lo-Ah Missiles. The Chinese Communists were providedimited amount ofurface-to-air missile equipment anda stait on the technological base for future domestic developcneut beforeof Soviet technicians in1 We have no evidence todeny that the Soviets have furniihed any SAMs line then. We dohow many such missiles there are ia Ghana bul theappear toto ration carefully the equipment they have.

AM Mies had been identified

ISome have been completely abandoned, and at any

given tunc'vv are aitn.ilU-with Oa/dfUttt Oh Vvideott suggests that the number of units is considerably smaller than tlie number of ufes and tliat ihr Chinese move the units from one place to another in an effort to intercept Chinese Nationalist pkrto-reeoonaissance flights.

e lielirve tliat Peipingigh priority toomestic capability involvingopy of the Sovietissilehinese modification.

J We have not firmlyactory for the production nf surface-to-air missiles. However, there is at Taiyuan In Northarge facility which we believe is for tlie production of solid propellant* which could ben SAMs. Tlicre are also somethat oilier plants in this area are producing missilend they may be producing some kind of surface-to-air missile, ertlier rrptacements for the Soviet SAMs or prototypesersion or both. The evidence is not sufficient toirm pidgment. however, we think it highly unlikely that eitlier version is being producedubstantial scale. We lielievc it will be two or three yens before productionarge scale is within their capability.


Air-to-Surface Missiles. Wc believe the Chinese Communists have no air-to-surface missile (ASM) capability at this time. While some of the original facilities at SCTMTR airfield suggest that im ASM program was at one time contemplated, no more lecent indications ofrogram have been identified and wc believe that other higher priority weapons programs make such an ef&fft unlikely.

Air-iO-Afr Missiles. Tlie Chinese Communists mayimited number of air-to-air guided missiles (AAM) for their fighter aircraft. While wc have no direct evidence that the Soviets supplied any, aircraft have been observed with equipment suitable for carrying such missiles. We have no persuasive evidence that the Chinese are producing AAMs hut we believe it within their capabilities to produce copies of Soviet missiles or US infrared Sidewinders. Such US missiles were captured by the Chinese at the time of the Taiwan Strait crisis

Submarine. Photogiaphy of Dniren harbor

revealed that the Chinese haveubmarine closely similar in outward appearance to thelass submarine which is designed to launch. ballistic missiles whilehotography indicates that the hull assembly began in abouthe Soviets may have helped build this vessel, and may have supplied components for the submarine and the missile system. Wc have no evidence as to what missile the Chinese may be planning to put in this submarine or as to whether the Soviets gave them assistance in this respect. Presumably the Chinese are aiming at thee have no evidence that the Chinese are now constructing any more of this type submarine, and it would be at least several years before any units could be operational with Chinese-produced missiles. The Chinese Communists might be greatly attracted to the developmentissile submarine force which could pose atimited nuclear threat to targets in the US.

Coastal Defense Missiles and Guided Missile Patrol Boats. Wc have fairly good evidence that th* Soviets in9 provided the Chinese with some cruise missilesange of. and whichigh explosive warhead. Since that time the Chinese have maintained an apparently active test range and development center for coastal defense cruise-type missiles at Lien-shan on tbe Culf of Liaotung. The only other cruise missile site we have identified in China is near Daircn. Wo cannot be certain however that it is operational. Although we have no evidence of Chinese production of cruise missiles, the LJen-shan facility indicates the Chinese are interested. They probably could produceeapon system without much difficulty.

At least one and probably two each of "the Soviet OSA-cIass and KOMAIt-class motor boats have been sighted in China Iu the Soviet Union,

'Thelais lulniuidie is riliiuiitrd loinimum patint operating minis (uiie day on stn(Mn). without refudiiig.

this type of craft carrieserodynamic missilesigh explosive warhead andangeiles Although there it some indication that the Soviets may have supplied or helped build tiles'* craft, we believe that construction of both the boats and the missiles is, -capabilities.


With our knowledge of Communist China's advanced weapons program being as sketchy and maoVpiate as it is, any longer term estimates must be even more tentative than those made above. The next decade could bring important, even radical, changes to China and to the state of internalioiml relations. It is likely that many of the lop leaders will have passed from the scene, and what this might mean for Peiping'? foreign, military, and domestic policies is un-piedlctable. There remains the profound question of tlie outcome of the race between population growth and food supply innd. indeed, the propoition of China's scientific, leelinical, and industrial resources and energies that tbe regime sees fit to devote to advanced weapons and other military program- will have an important bearing on this question.

Tbe Chinese probably will be able to pnrcred with eiperimeirJattori on various types of nucleai warheads and missile systems However, tliere will be limitations in the supply of fissionableyriad of technologicaland an rnormmi* economic burden. An intermediate range missile0 miles) would not bring within range many additional targets (except possibly in the USSIt) likely to be of interest to l'eiplng and the Chinese may try lo jump to an mlercoittJiiental capability. Even If developmenl liaseen started, we dolieve they could have an operational ICDM system until

If the Chinese Communists decide toassive effort toweapons pre-grants. irrespective of the cost to uthei partsthe economy, they probably will be able to carry forward many of the weapons programs considered in this estimate However, pressing all those programsuccessful conclusion willormidable task and tbc Chinese may be forced to accept changes and delays It is ptuhably within Chinese capabilities lo carry out at least those programs with the highest priority, eg. Ihe nuclear weapons, MKKM. and SAM programs.

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