The South China Morning Post quoted Chinese military sources (January 4, 2020) as saying that China has accelerated development of its most advanced submarine-launched nuclear missile, a weapon capable of striking the US mainland. They said the PLA Navy had tested the JL-3, or Julang (or “Big Wave”) missile – which it ultimately intends to pair with its next-generation nuclear submarines. It was launched from Bohai Bay in the Yellow Sea late last month, with the warhead landing in the northwest Gobi Desert in Xinjiang. Unlike the previous three tests, which used a conventional Type 032 submarine, the latest launch was conducted using the Type 094 nuclear submarine. Chinese military observers said Beijing’s missile tests were in response to moves from US President Donald Trump to target the country – along with Russia and North Korea – in his deterrence strategy. They said “Theoretically, the range of the JL-3 is now over 10,000km [6,000 miles], fulfilling the original target of hitting the US if the missile was launched from the Chinese near shore.” Chinese military expert Zhou Chenning said Beijing’s efforts could be seen as a response to Trump’s decision to list China as one of America’s “potential threats” in his 2018 “Nuclear Posture Review”. He said “Beijing has to strengthen its second nuclear strike capability by completing the ‘nuclear triad’. The US has resumed a series of nuclear tests since Trump came to office in recent years, including the B-61 airdropped nuclear bombs, the regular tests of the Trident II D5 ballistic missile and the American army’s move to develop land-based missiles. All those moves will be a great threat to China.” Another military insider said even when the JL-3 was ready it would still take at least five years to integrate it into the 096 operating system. But the military ultimately plans to arm the Type 096 submarine with the missiles.

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