SNIE 13-2-63 - COMMUNIST CHINA'S ADVANCED WEAPONS PROGRAM

Created: 7/24/1963

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SPECIAL

NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE

Communist China's Advanced Weapons Program

Submr'fWe DIRECTOR OF CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE

Concurred in by ffco UNITED STATES INTELLIGENCE BOARD As indicated overleaf3

Tht following intelligence organizations participated in Ihe preparation

Ihe Cenr.al Intelligence Agency and the iroclfigoneo organlxarforij of the Deport-mentt of Slain, Defonws, the Army, tho Navy, 'ho Air Force, AEC, ond NSA,

Concurring;

Director of Irrtelllgorie* aod Reiacrch, fJeportinont of Stale Director, Detent* IrrtoIHgence Agency

AuMoM Chief of Staff tor Intelligence, Depanrncni of the Arm,

AulrJon' CKrt of Naval OparatiomDeportment of tho Nary

Ajuitort Chief of Staff. IrM^Ugenoe, USAF

The Atomic Energy Co*nminion

Director of th- NoSooof Security Agency

Abrtoiningi

Tha AuiMant Director, Federal Bureau ef InvoSigotion, tho mtyeet being ouBide of hl> juriedr- -

".

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SPECIAL

NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE

Communist China's Advanced Weapons Program

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

THE PROBLEM

NOTE TO HEADERS

I. PROSPECTS FOR COMMUNIST CHINA'S ADVANCED

Nuclear

The Gaseous Diffusion

The Plutonium Production

Missile

The Research and Development

The Test

Defensive MLssiles

II. IMPLICATIONS KOR CHINESE POLICY

Economic Burden of the Prograrn

Rewards of

Policy

MAP

COMMUNIST CHINA'S ADVANCED WEAPONS PROGRAM

THE PROBLEM

To assess Communist China's progress toward acquisitionuclear weapons and missile capability and to estimate the effects ofevelopment on Chinese policy.

NOTE TO READERS

Since our most recent estimate on Communist China'sweapons program* we haveonsiderable amount of new information, mainly from photography. Thisleads us to believe that the Chinese, with Soviet assistance, had embarked in theore ambitious advanced weapons program than we had earlier thought likely. Webelieve that they are still working on that program though forced to slow its pace materiallyevertheless, the gaps In our information remain substantial and we are therefore not able to judge the present state or to project the futureof the Chinese programhole with any very high degree of confidence. Specific judgments given below about the stage likely to be reached by the Chinese program at particular dates should be read In the light of this general caution.

CONCLUSIONS

A. Peiping has given high priority to the development ofweapons and missiles. Recent aerial photography hasa number of developmental facilitiesroad program which diverts Communist China's limited scientific and technological resources from other parts of the economy.5

. "Chinese Communist Advanced Weaponsated

have found what we believe tolutoniumin China, located at Pao-t'ou. This reactor probablyhave reached criticality beforef it did gothat time, theirst device could be tested, basedfrom this reactor alone, would befrun intoormal number of difficulties, thisbe postponed to4f the reactorlater than earlyhas not yet donewould be even further delayed. Beginning thea first detonation the reactor could produce enoughfor only one or two crudeear. The Chinesefew bombers which could carry bulky weapons of

believe that the eventual Chinese program callsweapons containingnd plutonium.program would require more plutonium productionthe one reactor that has been identified. Neithercoverage nor other significant evidence haveproduction reactor in China. The possible existencereactor cannot be ignored however, nor theone may be in production. We therefore cannotpossibility that the Chinese couldirstany time. (Para. 7)

gaseous diffusion plant at Lanchou will probablyable, under the most advantageous circumstances,onsidering the greatdifficulties involved and the large amountore likely date for such production nd 3)

is probably concentrating initially on aballistic missile (MRBM) system of basicallyilerilee do notthat missiles would be ready for deployment beforeof the time and difficulties involved in producing awarhead, we believe China is not likely toa warheadearsirst

F. The detonationuclear device would boost domestic morale. Although it is possible that the leadership woulda dangerous degree of overconfldence, we think it more likely that Peiping will concentrate on furthering its established policiesorce its way into world disarmament discussions and other worldverawe its neighbors and soften them for Peiping-directed Communist subversion;out Chinese-style communism as the best route for an underdeveloped nation to achieve industrial and scientific modernity. Inits policies, Peipings increased confidence would doubtless be reflected in its approach to conflicts on its periphery.* (Paras.

* "The Acting Director, Bureau ol Intelligence and Research. Department of state, believes that China's leaders would recognise their limited capabilities had not altered the real power balance among the major states and could not. do so In thearticular, they would recognize that they remained, unable cither to remove or neutralise the US presence In Asia and would not become willing to taa* algnlficanUy greater military risks."

s

discussion

i. PROSPECTS FOR COMMUNIST CHINA'S ADVANCED WEAPONS PROGRAM

A. The Ngdear Program

assistance was an important factor in theanging from participation in uraniumprocessing through the supplyesearch reactor andassistance inajor facility for the separation ofin Sino-Soviet relations, however, disrupted thise believe the Soviets had stopped providing technologyfor China's nuclear program and had withdrawn Soviettechnicians. These blows have greatly retarded theprogram. The Soviets could not, however, undo what haddone, and construction of the gaseous diffusion plant atexample, was already well under way.

The Gaseous Diffusion Plant

This gaseous diffusion plant Is similar to such plants in the USSR. Photography of9 shows that the exterior of the present main building was largely completed by that time, but the facilityower supply. Photography of March and3 shows that the nearby hydroelectric plant, which was apparently designed to supply the obtrusion plant, has made some progress, but much works remains to be done. In the meantime, some power is available. Two transmission lines, one of which appears to be complete, connect the diffusion planthermal electric plant atubstation has been built at the diffusion plant, and installation of transformers alongside the main building has begun, though only tworobableere shown in place in the latest photography.

The building at Lanchou is big enough to permit the production of low, suitable for use in reactors. However, at least twice as much floor area as that provided by the present main building would be required to produce. There is an adjacent area inside the security fence apparently intended for such expansion, and there is some sign that work may be beginning there. Even if work is under way and all of the highly specialized separation equipment was promptly available, the earliest date at whichould be produced would beonsidering the great technicalinvolved and the large amount of additional constructionore likely date for such production. It is extremely unlikely that the Chinese have developed alternative processes forproduction-

The Plutonium Production Reactor

Recent photographic coverage or the Pao-t'ou area of Innerhas revealed an Installation wilh elaborate security arrangements. This installation includes what wc believe tomall air-cooledproduction reactor, of aboutegawatts capacity, withfacilities for chemical separation and metal fabrication. An air-cooled reactor has the sigrtiflcanl advantages of inherent simplicity of design and construction and less stringent purity requirements for the graphite moderator and uranium fuel. We have no knowledge of Soviet work with reactors o! this type, but both the United Kingdom and France built such reactors for their initial production ot plutonium and considerable unclassified design and operating data on air-cooled reactors has been available

The chief disadvantage of an air-cooled reactor is lis lowThe reactor at Pao-t'ou, when in full production, would be able to turn out only enough plutonium for one or. at most, two crude low-yieldear. Pelping may have selected this sort of reactor as the quickest and surest way within Its capabilities touclear detonation and acquire atoken weaponsizable weapons program based on plutonium alone would require greaterof plutonium than can be expected from the Pao-t'ou reactor.

We cannot determine from3 photography whether or not the Pao-t'ou reactor is now in operation. If it is in operation, we believe It could not have reached criticality beforefter reaching criUcallt)'. one year would be needed for fuel element irradiation within the reactor and anoonths for cooling of the irradiated fuel, cberriical separation of tbe plutonium and fabricationevice. Therefore, theirst device could be tested, based on plutonium from this reactor alone is4 However, this schedule assumes that virtually no problems arose in the achievement of reactor criticality or will arise in the operation of the separation and metal fabrication plants or in the fabricationuclear device. Running intoormal number of difficulties would postpone the date to4f the reaeior reached criticality later than earlyhas not yet donedetonation date would be even further delayed.

We believe that the eventual Chinese program calls for nuclear weapons containingnd plutonium. Forrogram, the amount of plutonium which Pao-t'ou could produce would be far too small to be compatible with the amount ofhich Lanchou could produce when and If completed Hence, we believe that the Chinese must at least have planned other plutonium production facilities. We have had photographic coverage of many of the likely areas for reactor sites without identifying another production reactor, and there it no significant collateral evidence indicating the existence

ofeactor. Nevertheless, it is possible that there are otherproduction facilities under construction elsewhere in China or, indeed, that such facilities may be In production. In thesewe cannot exclude the possibility that the Chinese couldirst detonation at any time.

B. The Missile Program

The Research and Development Facility

a missile research and development facility was under construction in the spring9 at Chang-hsin-tien,iles southwest of Peiping. Construction appears to have moved aheadood pace since then. Its size indicates that the Chinese are aimingubstantialmissile progam. It now includes three large static test stands with two large assembly/checkout type buildings, and what appears toropellants area. Adjacent areas contain ancillary buildingsseveral buildings suitable for research and development work. The facility appears suitable for developing surface-to-surface ballistic missiles of up to at least MRBM size and is large enough to permit limited production of missiles. Photography indicates that construction isfar along for the facility to be in at least partial operation,

We do not have comparable evidence on the state of the machinery and instrumentation inside the buildings nor on the ability of Chinese industry to supply the necessary materials and componentsissile development program. The electronics Industry is the most advanced of China's technical industries and should be the least hard pressed to supply missile components. More difficulties might be expected inspecial alloys for rocket engines, and high-specificationparts.

The Test Range

second major element of the missile development programcomplex at Shuang-ch'eng-tzu, whichissile range,airfield and related facilities. The complex appears to bepermit the testing of surface-to-air missiles (SAM) and ofmissiles (SSM) up to MRBM distances. Handling facilitiesat the Shuang-ch'eng-tzu airfield are similar toin the USSR for testing air-to-air (AAM) and air-to-surfaceThese facilities suggest that AAM and ASM programsby the Chinese but there is no evidence as to the presentthese programs. The complex was started in8 and bythe range was far enough along to permit initial firings forof checking out the missile facilities and rangefor training Chinese personnel. Construction on the rangecontinuing.

We do not know the extent to which the USSH wan Involved in the development or the Shuang-ch'eng-tzu complex. However, the facilities at the complex generally follow Soviet design. We believe that byhen the major withdrawal of Soviet technicians had been accomplished, the Soviets had provided the Chinese with some SA-2s, cruise missiles, and SSMs. possibly up to

There is no reliable evidence of flight-test firings of missilesmuch before1 except for some possible firings of .short-range tactical missilese believe some firings occurred23 (Photography of2arge craterards from one of the pads indicates one rather spectacularut the rate of firing can at most have been sporadic and very limited No evidence of SS ballisticloyment has been found.

Defensive. Mi inlet

Sites for coastal defense crulse-typo missiles have recently been located at Lien-shan on the Gull of Liaotung and possibly in an urea near Port Arthur. The lormer may dale backhe latter was still apparently incomplete inhe missile system al the Lien-shan site Is apparently one which the Soviets adapted from theirissile and which is also being used at Cuban coastalmissile sited. Inhere were photographed somerutea at Lien-shan which we believe to have contained cruiseReview of earlier photography indicates that at least some of these crates were at Lien-shan innnlyrates were photographed. We believe Lien-shanraining and development area rather than an operational site.

Ground photography of3robable KOMAR class guided missile patrol boat in Shanghai. KOMARs are equipped with two cruise missiles with an estimated range ofoautical miles and capable ofarheadounds of high explosives We do not know if the Soviets supplied this craft, as they have done for the UAR, Indonesia, and Cuba, or if ithines-produced version. We have no evidencehinese program to produce KOMARs but to do so is probably within Chinese capabilities.

Communist China has at leastAM sites designed for Sovietissiles, not all of which are occupied. Wc believe that the SAMs now in Chinese hands were supplied earlier by the Soviets.is scanty but we believe the Chinese arc not now producing this type of missile, though they probably plan to produce them in the future.

C. Prospect*

a year after an Initial detonation the Chinese couldtheir first crude weapon and thereafter produce one or two crude

s

fissionear. This would be the maximum rate unless and until production from the present Pao-t'ou reactor is supplemented from other facilities. The kind of testing program required to develop awarhead would consume most of the fissionable material likely to be available from that reactor for the next several years. Further, there are technical problems involved in achieving the reduced weight and size required. Consequently, we think it unlikely that the Chinese will be able toission warhead for missiles until three or four years after their first nuclear detonation, This could be even longer if the Chinese have only the Pao-t'ou reactorource of plutonium.

Even before missiles are available Communist China would have some capability for delivering an early unsophisticated nuclear weapon. It has aroundBULL) piston driven aircraft with large bomb-baysomb weight capacity of0 pounds. It has twoBADGER) jet medium bombers which, If tbey are operational, could handle bulky bombs andaximum ot0 pounds. It is not likely thatr soBEAGLE) jet light bombers couldulky, early stage weapon, but they would be usable as more sophisticated weapons were developed.

Analysis of existing Chinese faculties and recognition of Peiping's need to concentrate its limited resources lead us to believe that themissile effort will focus initiallyedium-range system of either.ype or.ype. The range and the faculties at the rangehead arecale which suggests an intention to test missiles of this size. Either of these systems would give the Chinese adequate coverage of peripheral targets. Even if the Chinese concentrateingle system and give the program continued top priority in scientific and technical resources, wc do not believe that the missiles would be ready for deploymentt is unlikelyompatible nuclear warhead would be available by that date.

MPLICATIONS FOR CHINESE POLICY A. Domestic Impart

economic Burden of the Program

has relatively few top-flight scientists and is generallytechnical talent and deficient In industrial technology. Theprogram has probablyeavy drain onery small part of this effort would contribute,to the other sectors of an economy as underdevelopednow is. in the meantime, other priority industrial programstroubled economy have lagged. It is probable that at leastwould have been eased had China's limited technicalnot been channeled so heavily into the weapons program.

Rewards ot Success

The detonationuclear device and subsequent moves towarduclear weapons capability would be intensively exploited inside Communist China in an effort to raise morale and increasefervor. All the many forms of Peiping's pervasive propaganda apparatus would be put to work extolling the virtues of communism and the capabilities of the Chinese people to "progress without outsidehere would surelyesultant increase in morale, especially among party members, youth, and the educated classes. Probably the mass of the peasantry would be little affected.

Although the Chinese Communist leadership might becomeby its own propagandauclear detonation and adopt unrealistic domestic policies which could do great damage to the economy, it is much more likely that the effect on domestic programs would not be great. The pressing need for agricultural expansionso critical that it will almost certainly continue to receiveemphasis, as will industries supporting agriculture. However, the Chinese leaders will almost certainly continue to devote substantial effort to the development and production of advanced weapons, even though the cost of such programs may riseaster rate than overall economic growth.

Policy

Communist propaganda has generally played downof nuclear weapons in war. The Soviet Union didthe, before it had nuclear weapons. This, of course,after the USSRuclear power. After Peipinga detonation and is on its way to getting weapons, it tooits public attitude on their importance. This slowlywill increase Communist China's already considerableover its Asian neighbors. However, even if it completeswe believe was contemplated in the, for thefuture Communist China will not approach the advancedof the US or USSR, particularly in the field of long-rangePor this reason, among others, Peiping would be unlikelya decisive Importance to modern weaponry. The regimestill rely primarily on ils huge ground force and, unlessof Soviet support, would try to avoid hostilities whichinto nuclear war. Considering the chances of retaliation, itto conceive of any situation in which Peiping would beinitiate the use of nuclear weapons in the next decade or so.

Policy

will be sure to exploit its achievements to the hilt inpropaganda. It will probably try to confuse the distinction

imple detonationeapons capability and betweenmall weapons capability andajor nuclear power. Also the Chinese might wellrototype MRBM, with one or more additional stages, toatellite into orbit. This could besome time before an MRBM was operable and well beforeystem was nuclear armed. The purpose, of course, would be to give the impression of much greater strength than had actually beenand to persuade the people of neighboring countries that Pelping was riding the wave of the future which it was futile to resist. At tbe same time Peiping would work to persuade audiences in othercountries that Chinese-style communism provides the most effective and rapid way toodern industrial, scientific, and military power.

A Chinese Communist nuclear detonation would increase the momentum of Peiplng's drive for great-power status and acceptance in international councils. Peiping would argue that it is less dangerous toation with nuclear arms In the UN and other international bodies than to keep it isolated, and would beosition to claimthat substantial progress toward world peace and disarmament was seriously hampered unless it participated in negotiations. Peiping has already gone on record as not being bound by any agreements made without its participation. It would demand international recognition, UN membership, or other prerequisites as the price of its participation. In any event, Communist China wouldomprehensive nuclear test ban treaty.

We do not believe that the explosionirst device, or even the acquisitionimited nuclear weapons capability, would produce major changes in Communist China's foreign policy in the sense that the Chinese wouldeneral policy of open military aggression, or even become willing to take significantly greater military risks. China's leaders would recognize that their limited capabilities had not altered the real power balance among the major states and could not do so in the foreseeable future. In particular, they would recognize that they remained unable either to remove or neutralize the US presence to Asia.

Nevertheless, the Chinese would feel very much stronger and this mood would doubtless be reflected in their approach to conflicts on their periphery. They would probably feel that the US would be more reluctant to intervene on the Asian mainland and thus the tone of Chinese policy would probably become moreurther, their

* "The Acting Director, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Department of State, feels that the first two sentences or this paragraph are Inconsistent with paragraphnd that there Is insufficient evidence to warrantefinite statement about the Chinese appraisal of our Intentions."

possession of nuclear weapons would reinforce their efforts to achieve Asian hegemony through political pressures and the indirect support of local "wars ofuch tactics would probably acquire greater effectiveness, since the Chinese feat wouldrofound impact on neighboring governments and peoples. It would alter the latter'a sense of the relations of power, even if it made little Immediate change In the realities of power, andreater or lesser degree would probably result in Increased pressures to acrorrnnodate to Chinese demands.

he foregoing assumes that the Communist Chinese leaders will react rationally to their nuclear and missile achievements On balance we believe that they will. Nevertheless we do not exclude the possibility that Pelplng's leadership might overestimate China's capabilitiesand embark on radical new external courses.

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