Magazine article Arms Control Today

Key Findings of the Intelligence Community Damage Assessment

Magazine article Arms Control Today

Key Findings of the Intelligence Community Damage Assessment

Article excerpt

Chinese strategic nuclear efforts have focused on developing and deploying a survivable long-range missile force that can hold a significant portion of the U.S. and Russian populations at risk in a retaliatory strike. By at least the late 1970s the Chinese launched an ambitious collection program focused on the United States, including its national laboratories, to acquire nuclear weapons technologies. By the 1980s China recognized that its second strike capability might be in jeopardy unless its force became more survivable. This probably prompted the Chinese to heighten their interest in smaller and lighter nuclear weapon systems to permit a mobile force.

China obtained by espionage classified U.S. nuclear weapons information that probably accelerated its program to develop future nuclear weapons. This collection program allowed China to focus successfully down critical paths and avoid less promising approaches to nuclear weapon designs.

China obtained at least basic design information on several modern U.S. nuclear reentry vehicles, including the Trident II (W88).

China also obtained information on a variety of U.S. weapon design concepts and weaponization features, including those of the neutron bomb.

We cannot determine the full extent of weapon information obtained. For example, we do not know whether any weapon design documentation or blueprints were acquired.

We believe it is more likely that the Chinese used U.S. design information to inform their own program than to replicate U.S. weapon designs.

China's technical advances have been made on the basis of classified and unclassified information derived from espionage, contact with U. …

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