SNIE 13-6-62: COMMUNIST CHINA'S NUCLEAR WEAPONS BOARD

Created: 12/17/1962

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

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MEMORANDUM FOR TEE UNITED STATES UvTEU.IGEKCS BOARD

SUBJECT: : COf-MUNIST CHEW'S NUCLEA3 WJJO'lS EiCGRAM

Toe attached draft estimate has been approved by the Board of national Estlcates pursuantor^ider-vMso of It by the USIB representatives.

Thisas been placed cn tbe agenda of the USIB ceeting scheduled foredresday,eceiiisr.

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A MILITARY

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xcluded froa dcvnersdltg nrA declassification

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

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SUBJECT: : CCMCXXSE CZZftVS NUCLEARROGRAM

TC5 PP02IEM

To assess Ccjrffccist China'8 progreca toward ecqulaiiioaucleor weapons capability and to estimate certain implication, of

SONCITSIONS

A. Previous estimtes of the likely date by which the Chinaoe Eight be abla toirst nuclear teat were taaed on an accumulation of evidence vblch pointedteady pace of advance in tha Chinese program. At preseut, given the absence of any new positive avidenco pointing to progress, and acoe lndlcetiocs of difficulties and delays, we believe tbat the progran fcac been seriously retarded. The evidence ia not now adequate to cede a

Excluded fruc autocnticd declaaoification

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conflict Judgcent about the likely dateirst nuclear explosion in China. Although it might occur ea earlye believe-that It isjnqre likely to occur some yearsPares, k, 6)

the Chineseigh priority effort and^wereacquire key missile components froa other countries, theyto produce Soviet-designed short-rangemissiles as earlyU, but they probal'ly couldmedium-range missiles before the latter pert of the decode.

ould notuclear,uided miBBile system until the late ig60's ors. depending cn the date of initial nuclear

t believe that the acquisitionuclearwould result in major changes in Peiping'snternally, it would tend to raise tbeof the party leadership end appeal to the nationalthe general populace. Externally, it would probably increase

1/ See the representative of the Assistant Chief of Staff,USAF, foDtnoteB at the end ofn the DISCUSSION.

2/ See tha representative of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Department of tbe Army footnote at the end of paragraph il* in the DISCUSSICK.

China'! vocal aggreesiveneee and determination toeading role ia Alia end in the world Coocunlit movement. We do not, however, believe that the Chinese acquisitionnited nuclear capability will significantly alter ite willlogneaa to take military riake or that it would leadeneral policy of open military aggreBBlon.)

I. CURRENT STJtTUSHINESE ADVANCED WEAKRS PROGRAM*

1. Tba Chinese nuclear and clcsllc programs jut hove bean seriously affected by tbe withdrawal of Soviet tr:cb:ilccl assistance Innd by setbacks to ChiECoe technological development resulting frera tbeonecline of recant years. Cver tbe past two years drastic cutbacks In Industrial production and shortages of foreign exchange for Industrial lcparts pr-Jtttily have compounded tha problecs Involved In acquiring theualityequipment, aid Instruments required for these programs. Even In the absence of any other evidence It wouldair Inference that tho bo factors badetarding effect on tho Chlceso effort to acquire advanced weapons.

Kuclcor Weapcn3

Thia paper reviews In summary form seme recent evidence and certain baslo Judgments. uller treatment of the subject see, "Chinese Communist Advanced: WeaponsatedThe Chinese Ccmnunlat Atomic Energyated0 (Limited Distribution).

3. Nevertheless, there are scoe indications that Peiplng is continuing activities aimed at developing an etccic energy program of soase size. There is firm evidence of continued uranium Dining, and concoct rating activities. Recent official statements have reiterated that China lsetermined effort to develop nuclear weapons. Moreover, the scale of preparatorydescribed in previous estimates mokes it unlikely that China,

The areas moat likely on the basis of other evidence to contain such facilities bave been covered in photography. There are still aof areashe Szechvan basin) theoretically suitableroduction reactor in terms of logistics, security, availability of electric power, and water flow which have not been photographed. Bo positive indications of any kind point to tbe actual existence of such facilities ln these areas. We believe that the chances are better than even that if such facilities existed in Cains, we would bave acquired knowledge of them.

despite its shrunken industrial base end tichnclosicel deficiencies, would not do what it could to pressuclear ueapona prograa. It Is possible that the Chinese have simply postponed plans to build the largo industrial facilities necessary toull-ocale program- at an early date, and aro new channeling scarce resourcestretchedmaller program.

It. Previous est Ire tec of the likely date by which the Chinese night be abla toirst nuclear test were iased on anof evidence which gave sore sense of the pace of the Chinese program. At present, given tho absence of any new positive evidence pointing to progress, any estinnta ofate is necea-oarily marked by great uncertainty. Co tbe onehi lie so Comiualst leadership continuea to hove strong reasonso restore ita dininished prestige vith tho Chinese people, to press itsfor oquality with tbe USSR in tbe Bloc, and generally to forward Its external objectivesfor wishing touclear explosion at the earliest possible date. Co the other hand, the scale of Soviet assistanceey factor governing the pace of tbe Chinese program, and with Sino-Soviet relftti-.n* noworse state then everenewal of Soviet assistance appears unlikely for ocrae time to come. Further, tbe rata of advance of Chinesela on uncertain factor, although wo believe that the Chinese

can move forward Independently oa atalted nuclear weapons program.

5* We still cannot exclude the possibility that tbe Chinese Communists could achlcvo an initial nuclear dctccvdtlon ineriod. However, this possibility hes to be based on several premises which are open to question. To support is. it Is necessary (to postulate thataa beeny high priority prograa aimed at the earliest possible nuclear detc^atlon, tbot this prograa is being cai-rled out despite China's severe economic troubles, and that without Soviet assistance the Chinese technical capabilities havequate. Moreover, it i3 necessary to as-

sume that the Chinese were able to put into production early1 tho uranium natal plant which was tearing completion inhen the Soviet technicians wore withdroj/n. Finally, It is necessary to ssuse the existence in Chinalutonium production reactorhemical separation plant.

6. It appears to ua likely that tho hicese encounterod delayo and difficulties in putting the uranium metal plant into operation after the Soviet withdrawal. More important, the Chinese wouldhave experienced even more serious delays In subsequent stages

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of tba pluteniua production process* (Tbe French experienced serious delays In solving problemshemical separation process*) Tho evidence is not new adequate toonfident Judgment about the likely doteirst nuclear test In China. Although it might occur ob oorlya believe that it is oore likely to occur some yoara later.

7. The developmentignificant weapons capability after an early first explosion basedsmll-scaleiegawatt reactor) wc-jlg require considerable tine. ear after anyeu fairly crude fission weapons cculd_prcbably bo

produced. It ueuld take about four to five year3 -te-rcr to produce, scy,ominal-yield fission weapons. If the first test occurs later in the decode, the Chinese coy have the larger productionand greater numbers of skilled personnel which vould enable then to move mere rapidly toward acquisitionignificant veapons

* The representative of the Assistant Chief of Staff,F, believes that the Chinese Communists are likely to conduct their first nuclear test They haveery high priority to the development of nuclear uoapens and that they probably regard an advanced weapons capabilityolitical and military necessity if they are to achieve the international stutus thay seek. He also believes that sufficient economic and scientific roaources are available to the Chinese Cocouniets toew, very high priority projects. He recognizes that the Sovietssupport froa the Chinese nuclear weapons programnd that this has significantly retarded the progress of the Chinese

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capability. Even If tbe Chineseission device, they prcbably would notherccnuciear capability until after the end of tbe decade.*

(Footnote continued fron previcus pege.)

Communists weapons program In certain areas. Nevertheless, he considers It likely that sufficient tochntcal and Industrial resources are available and are be>.cg fuz^oled into thecunlet ateale energy prograaufflcleut prlc-rlty to permit them to havesever Into operation,to the JudgsMnt nade la psragz-piind to producefissionable material for the teat of an all-plutcnlum imploalon nuclear devlco some time

* The repreeentative of the Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence, "SAP, believes that if the Cnlnese detonate their first device in tbe next year or so, it would be within their capabilities toandhermonuclear device by the end of tbe decade.evice prctably would be extremely heavy, andoken thermonuclear capability. Evenimited thermonuclear capability would go far to establish Chinaroat power and would have profound psychological impact,in Asia.

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Kisslle Delivery CgpsblUtiea

8. Such evidence as va have suggests that Congunist China's progress towarduclear weapons delivery capability with missiles has been vary slow since the general withdrawal of Soviet technicians in By that tine construction of the Shuangchengtzu Kisslle Test Range, begunad progressed to the point that Initial firings could have begun for purposes of checking out the missile facilities and range instrumentation, and for orientation of Chinese personnel. There is no reliable evidence which makes it possible toate at which actual flight-test firings for research and development might have begun, but va do not believe that these could have occurred much before the endl. We_believe thataa occurredut the rate of firing can at post only haw been_sp^

flight tests have been conducted have probably utilized missiles of

these sites Is apparently one which the Soviets adapted fron theirir-to-ourface micellehich Is also being used in Cuban coastal defense missile sites.

11. There Is still no conclusive evidence that the Chinese

Bfltfn WLJAtllA Ttrnriurtinnr Tor the next fev year3,

we do not believe that tbe Chinese cn their own will have either the

industrial base or the technological competence to produce certain

components of ballistic missile systems. Chinese research and

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ls probably rot yet/enough to achieve native missile

designs. This means that China'srogress t'jwurdallistic missile production capability entirely frou its ownis likely to be very slow.

12. Cur evidence ls insufficient to permit confJ ! estimates cn the timing of successive miasile developments. lor the present it seems unlikely tiat tho Chinese will receiverets tbe USSR. In developing their own production capability for offensive missiles, we believe they vould reck first to producesurface-to-surface ballistic missiles* In order to do so at an early date Polping would reed toicrlty effort to.aunecfcle the technical resourcesvculd_uicd to ac-iuirt* acme key ccepcoetts from external sources* If theseight bo abla to produce1ndlasllaa as early as lgfife. However, they would probably not deploy Such ndsoiles in any more than token numbers before they had anuclear warhead.

The areas falling within range of such weapons are shewn on tbe map at Annex.

13, Tbe Chinese probably.could. Dot. produce medium-rangebefore tbe letter pert. _of_ tbe.decodeTo do so tbey vould almost..certainly have to-uaa.Soyiet designs of the.

n,H. typos. Tbe characteristics of the test range suggest that olo-slles of ouch designs vera to be provided by the Soviets.

Because of tbe numerous variables In both programs we can-cot foresee with exactness Just when, In the long run, the Chinese would be able touclear warheadulded_mlealle system. We believe that the Chinese could not reachn eeM.cvt.Bent until thessuming an Initial nuclear testQtM or tbeb If tho test does not occur until tho latter part of this decade. The Chinese have ale est certainly not taken even preliminary steps to develop submarine missile systems, ICBHs, and antimissile systems. The achievement cf an independent capability in these more technically advanced fields would requireears or mere even with some Soviet assistance.*

Tie representative..of the Assistant Chief of Staff fcr Intelligence, Department of tbe Army, relieves that the limited Chinese Cooauniet Industrial base and relatively snail numbers of technicallypersonnel will prevent their production of any largo numbers cf ballistic missiles for the next few years. However, he believes this estimate does not give sufficient consideration to thecapabilities of the Communist Chinese es indicated by the facilities at tho Shuang-cbeng-tzu Missile Test Center. Be believes that tbe facilities at the Centerubstantial missile research and development program, rogram, If given sufficient priority and concentrated on eta or two missile systems of either short or medium range typo, could provide from nativeissile delivery capabilitymall number of compatible warheads when such warheads become available.

Aircraft ftoUvery Capabilities

15* Iccouse cf slew progress toward tbe acquisitionapability the Chinese Communists vould. If tbey succeeded In developing nuclear weapons In the next few years,to rely on manned aircraft for delivery of such weapons. The Chinese are now estlcated toet lightn and two BACOKRet medliijo boatoers. The light bibbers vould not be able to carry tbe crude weapons which are likely to be available In the early years of the Chinese program. The Chinese aircraft Industry is apparently United to tbe production of Soviet Jet fighters, small transports, and "cellccptoro, but not late models. Wf. believe JtefcJL. renewal of Sino-Soviet cooperation will toore tho rblnose -will iflsignificant advances toward aaet medium bomber force. It Is unlikely that tbe Chinese wiU undertake to develop leng-range heavy honkers cr that they will obtain such aircraft from the Soviets.

A, PROBABLE DCMSTIC CCHSEQUENCKS

16. Ccexeunlst China's detonationuclear device and suh-eequent stepsuclear woapons capoblUty wculd prctobly bave little Influence on the character of the regime's denesticFor the next few years Pelpicg ia likely to continue its

present policy of giving highest priority to lavestreet Inend Its supporting Industries* Within this framework ofthe regime will probably be willing to assign resources only for limited programs of advanced weapons development. If the regime succeeds in overcoming the economic decline of recent years. It will probably devote larger resources to such programs. Because cf the generally low level of China's technology and the sas.ll cumber of trained personnel available, Chinese progress in such fields would ben any case.

17. Communist China's first test explosion and subsequent covesuclear weapons capability would have Important but mixed effects oa various sections cf the population. Tbe party endleadership vould have renewed confidence ln the "correctness" of their policies. The regime would certainlyassive propaganda campaign emphasizing that It is making good on its promise to catch up with the Wast In science and technology, ost Chinese would be intensely proud of the national accomplishment, although some elements might question whether the cost was not related to shortages of food and consumer goods, nuclear achievements vould help restore popular faith inicvj (particularly amcng cadres and persons already deeply committed tout the degree of popular

support, as mar-Ifested In increased production effort* ln factory and fnrm, vould depend on many other factors *

IH. MILITARY IKPUCATICKS

lfl. Chinese Communist military doctrine has denied that nuclear weapons have decisive military significance andlleye that their views in this rearect sr*_ucllkely to_ undergo any sudden or radical change. The basic dependence cn nonnuclear military tactics and primary reliance cr. masses af troops will a. la estet .cue. However, the acquisition of advanced weapons would stimulate efforts to Improve military ergocitation and to develop new tactics andappropriate to nuclear war. It would probably also tord to improve tbe morale of tbe Chinese Armed Forces.

19. The Chinese would probably value nuclear weapons primarily for psychological support In exerting pressures short of general war. Even after acquisition of such weapons, we believe that the Chinese would prefer to advance their goal rf hegemony ln Asia by tba use of political pressures, limited border wars, and indirect support to local "wars of liberation." However, possession of nuclear weapons wouldlping's_Ylew_ probably beome, assistance, in weakening the resistance of neighboring countries to Ccrntunist Insurgency, in

inhibiting their requests for US assistance or counteraction, and In pressuring them to accede to Chinese demands.

the regime has publicly emphasized China'ssurvive nuclear attack, it probably genuinely fears such However, Pclping has usually appeared core ready than

the Soviet Union to lake military risks, or to deny the existence of such risks. We dp not believe that tba Chinese acquisitionalted nuclear capability will significantly alter Its willingness to take military risks. Cn its other hand ^vo believe ritjyould, pot, lead,eneral policy of open military

IV. FOREIGN POLICY IMPLICATIONS

acquisitionuclear weapons capability bywould not, given the limited character cf that capability,tbe foreseeable future the real relations of military powercajer states. China for many years to coze will not be ablethe nuclear pewer vhlch the US and USSR can bring toIn the Far Bast. However, the fnlnesc feat In exploding adevice at all wouldrofound Impact cn many peoplesand would alter their sense of what tbe relations of power

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were or might come to be* The Chinese Communists would, of course, take advantage of this to seek fuller acknowledgment of their claims toin Asia and their statusorld power.

22. Nuclear achievements might from time to tine lead Cancunist China to increase political pressures oa its nccaligned Asian neighbors but probably would not lead to any basic reorientation of policy toward tbea. Pelplng would probably seek, with sone success, to blur tbe distinction betweon an Initial test and full weapons capability in order to build tbe loage of full nuclear power status ^Dd scientific leadership. It would exert pressure cn neighboring states having nilitary re 1st ices with the US, ecphosizlcg tbe incrcated danger of nuch ties. These moves would probably be cautious, however, to avoid arousing fears er resentment arceg China's neighbors which night alienate or drive them toward the West, Propegarda would be likely to oaphasize China's peaceful Intentions and the defensive nature of its nuclear capability la contrast with "aggressive US designs" and military bases. The aim of such prcpegnada end pressure, would be tohinese Communist oriented neutralism among Asian states and especially among China's Immediate neighbors.

Toward the US end its Asian allies, Peiping would probably become acre aggressive vocally but It wculd still be concerned not

to provoke serious counteraction. It would realize that alc Itself was Insufficient to remove the CSAsia and, cn tbe contrary, might encourage the buildup ofmissiles in South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. Peiping'stoward Taiwan would seek to exploit fears of nuclearrenewing old propeganda appeals for "peaceful li^'oratlon"oint "anti-US" move. However, we believe thatwould not attempt any military iccves la the Taiwanthey persuaded themselves that US involvement wasof Japan's great sensitivity to the dangers of nuclearbelieve Peiping would handle tbe Japanese with great caution. hope to persuade Japan to drop Its alliance with the vs,that the Japanese would con-

sider acquiring nuclear weapons themselves.

2k. Communist China has long sought to win world recognitionreat power whosa participation was necessary for thefunctioning of International agreettents and organizations. It would immediately flaunt any successful nuclear detonation as proof of great power status and would probably calculate that, In time, world opinion would overridebjections to China'a fullin International. Faipirg would almost certainly

consider that its leverage was increased for entry into the un on its on terms, teres that vould exclude the republic of china.

has repeatedly warned that china will not hedisarmament agree rests reached without its participation. of participation has been defined cs recognition of tbeby all negotiating states and us "evacuation" of 'i'jiwan.

uclear power peiplng would expect to use the disarmament issue more""effectively to generate international support for its position on taiwan and for removal of us forces froo tbe far jeaat. it seems unlikely that the chinese would be any more favorably disposed toward serious negotiation on dleamanent that they aro now. they would probably regard any effort to involve then in eras control arrangeDects as an attempt to deny them equalityucleer power.

is probable tbat the ussr's unwillingness to assistinuclear capability was one of tbe keylo tbe sino-soviet differences of recent years.acquisition of nuclear weapons would probably tendand perhaps intensify strains in the relations of thegreat powers. peiplng would almost cortalnlyto expand its influence in the world comnmlst movement,

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