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Right after I graduated, I interned with the Arms Control Association. It was terrific.

– George Stephanopolous
Host of ABC's This Week
January 1, 2005
China

The P5+1 and Iran Nuclear Talks, July 15

By the research staff of the Arms Control Association. To get this P5+1 and Iran Nuclear Talks Alert delivered to your inbox, sign-up now. This Week In Vienna U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry left Vienna today after a press conference that set a more positive tone than statements made earlier this week by U.S. officials about the nuclear negotiations with Iran. With 5 days left before the July 20 deadline, Kerry did not address the frenzied speculation about whether the talks would be extended, but said that negotiators would remain in Vienna through the 20th and that all parties are...

The P5+1 and Iran Nuclear Talks Alert, July 14

By the research staff of the Arms Control Association. To get this P5+1 and Iran Nuclear Talks Alert delivered to your inbox, sign-up now. The Weekend In Vienna Several P5+1 foreign ministers trickled into Vienna on Sunday to join the nuclear talks with Iran one week before the interim agreement expires. Speaking to the press ahead of his first meeting at the Coburg Palace where the talks are taking place, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that "significant gaps" still remain, but he hoped to make progress while in Vienna. Secretary of State John Kerry outside the Coburg Palace Hotel,...

The Week Ahead, July 14-20: P5+1 talks with Iran; Anniversary of "Trinity" Test; Nuclear Modernization; and More

The following are some of the key arms control dates and developments to watch over the next fortnight. For more news and analysis on these and other weapons-related security issues, consider subscribing to ACA's monthly journal Arms Control Today, which is available in print/digital and digital-only editions. - written and compiled by Tim Farnsworth July 12-20: Foreign Ministers Meet in Vienna as P5+1 and Iran Talks Head Into Final Week EU nuclear negotiator Catherine Ashton invited the foreign ministers from the P5+1 states (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United...

The P5+1 and Iran Nuclear Talks Alert, July 11

By the research staff of the Arms Control Association. To get this P5+1 and Iran Nuclear Talks Alert delivered to your inbox, sign-up now. This Week In Vienna The Coburg Palace Hotel, Vienna. The Coburg Hotel is expecting some additional guests this weekend. As anticipated in the July 7 edition of The P5+1 and Iran Nuclear Talks Alert, P5+1 foreign ministers will descend on Vienna on Sunday "to take stock of where we are in the talks," according to the spokesman for the EU High Representative Catherine Ashton. "All available" foreign ministers are invited to attend, the spokesman said. At...

The P5+1 and Iran Nuclear Talks Alert, July 9

By the research staff of the Arms Control Association. To get this P5+1 and Iran Nuclear Talks Alert delivered to your inbox, sign-up now. Tough Talk from Tehran - What Does It Mean? Talks are still underway in Vienna as the countdown to July 20 drops to 11 days. Yesterday's meetings featured a plenary session chaired by Iran's deputy nuclear negotiator Abbas Arachi and Helga Schmid, deputy nuclear negotiator for the P5+1. Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization. Negotiators seem undeterred by the tough talk from Supreme Leader Khamenei yesterday expressing his support for...

The P5+1 and Iran Nuclear Talks Alert, July 7

Top diplomats from the United States, five other world powers, and Iran are racing against the clock to seal a long-sought, long-term comprehensive deal that guards against a nuclear-armed Iran, helps avoid a future military confrontation over its nuclear program, and leads to sanctions relief. This special newsletter compiled by the research staff of the Arms Control Association is designed to provide occasional updates from various sources on the talks, as well as information to help provide journalists, policy makers, and the public with a better understanding of the key issues and options...

China Seen Nearing Sea-Based Deterrent

Brianna Starosciak and Kelsey Davenport

China will soon have its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent, according to a U.S. Defense Department report released last month.

The report said Beijing is placing a “high priority” on updating and developing its submarine force and will soon deploy the Julang-2 (JL-2) submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) on its Jin-class submarine.

The Defense Department is required by law to submit an annual report to Congress on China’s military capabilities and force modernization.

The new Pentagon report estimates that China will begin patrols by Jin-class submarines armed with JL-2 missiles sometime this year. China has three operational Jin-class submarines.

At a June 25 event discussing the Pentagon report, Oriana Mastro, an assistant professor at Georgetown University who specializes in Chinese military and security policy, said China’s current focus is on “defensive nuclear weapons.” But Mastro expressed concern that the Chinese could “start using their weapons the way the Pakistanis do” by “trying to deter conventionally superior countries” with their nuclear weapons.

The JL-2 has an estimated range of 7,400 kilometers, which would allow Beijing to hit Alaska from Chinese waters. The missile was originally anticipated to enter service in 2010, but the program was delayed several times. China conducted two successful tests of the missile in 2012. Last year’s Pentagon report said the JL-2 would reach “initial operating capability in 2013.” (See ACT, June 2013.)

The new report says that China is likely to add as many as five ballistic missile submarines to its fleet over the next decade and then move toward developing a second-generation nuclear-powered submarine.

The Jin-class submarine is designed to carry 12 JL-2 SLBMs. Analysts believe that the predecessor to the Jin class of submarines, called the Xia class, was never deployed outside Chinese waters. The 2011 edition of the Pentagon report characterized the operational status of the Xia-class submarines as “questionable,” a description the report also applied to the JL-1 SLBM, the predecessor of the JL-2. The JL-1 had an estimated range of only 1,700 kilometers. The JL-2, which is the sea-based version of China’s Dong Feng-31 (DF-31) intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), has a much longer range and will increase China’s ability to deter threats from greater distances.

China has emphasized creating a more survivable nuclear force by adding more mobile missiles to its arsenal, the recent Pentagon report said.

Independent estimates put China’s total nuclear force at about 250 warheads of all types; 180 are thought to be nondeployed, or in reserve. In last year’s report, the Pentagon estimated that China has 50 to 75 ICBMs and a large number of shorter-range systems able to deliver nuclear weapons.

One of the mobile missiles that China has deployed is the DF-31A. It is an ICBM with an estimated range of 11,200 kilometers, meaning it can reach most of the continental United States.

China also is developing its road-mobile DF-41 ICBM. The Pentagon report said that the DF-41 is “possibly capable” of carrying multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs). This is the only missile in the Chinese arsenal currently declared by the government to have a MIRV capability, according to the report. The Pentagon report said China probably would equip future missiles with MIRVs.

It is not clear when the DF-41 missile will be deployed. It was most recently tested last December.

According to the Pentagon report, increases in the number of mobile ICBMs and the beginning of deterrence patrols with Jin-class submarines will force China to “implement more sophisticated command and control systems and processes” in order to “safeguard the integrity” of the launch authority for a “larger, more dispersed force.”

Mark Stokes, former senior country director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolia in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense of International Security Affairs, said at the June 25 event that “the most significant aspect of this development” is who will have “custodianship” over the warheads when they are deployed at sea. Currently, China’s North Sea and South Sea fleets do not have peacetime custodianship of nuclear weapons, said Stokes, who is executive director of the Project 2049 Institute. Control now remains centralized, which is a “very effective way of ensuring peace and stability,” he said.

The Pentagon report states that China has more than 1,000 short-range ballistic missiles in its arsenal and is adding conventionally armed medium-range ballistic missiles.

China has also developed an anti-ship missile called the CSS-5 Mod 5 (DF-21D) with a range of 1,500 kilometers and a maneuverable warhead.

A Pentagon report released last month says that China will soon have its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent.

The Week Ahead, April 7-11: Iran Talks Resume; Hagel in China; CTBTO Group of Eminent Persons Meets

The following are some of the key arms control dates and developments to watch in the coming week. For more news and analysis on these and other weapons-related security issues, consider subscribing to ACA's monthly journal Arms Control Today, which is available in print/digital and digital-only editions. - written and compiled by Tim Farnsworth April 7-9: P5+1 Talks With Iran Resume Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) are meeting April 7-9 in Vienna to continue discussing elements of a comprehensive agreement on Iran's nuclear program...

Report: China May Have New ASAT Weapon

Timothy Farnsworth

A report by the Secure World Foundation has presented new evidence that a Chinese rocket launch last May was actually a test of a new anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon.

In a press release shortly after the event, the Chinese Academy of Sciences originally characterized it as a scientific launch originating from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in western China. A high-altitude sounding rocket carried a scientific payload 10,000 kilometers above the earth’s surface to study the magnetosphere, according to the press release.

Drawing on open-source materials and commercially available satellite images, the report by Brian Weeden, a technical adviser to the foundation, finds that the evidence, although not conclusive, appears to show that China is testing a rocket component of a new ASAT weapons system derived from a road-mobile ballistic missile that could reach geostationary orbit, about 36,000 kilometers above the earth. Weeden said in a March 27 e-mail to Arms Control Today that, from a U.S. military perspective, “the altitude has some very important implications because [the United States] has some very important national security space assets at those higher altitudes.” Some of these assets include satellites that provide early-warning launch notifications or communications for nuclear forces or help fly drones. Weeden, a former U.S. Air Force space analyst, said in his e-mail that the United States has considered these systems safe and probably could not defend them from deliberate attacks.

According to the report, no other country has tested a direct-ascent ASAT weapons system that could hit satellites higher than 2,000 kilometers. A direct-ascent weapon is launched from the earth’s surface with the goal of hitting a target in space, but the weapon itself does not remain in orbit.

Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Monica Matoush told the Air Force Association on May 15, 2013, that “[t]he launch appeared to be on a ballistic trajectory nearly to geosynchronous Earth orbit.”

A ballistic trajectory typically means that a rocket is on a suborbital flight path and neither it nor its payload stays in orbit. Rockets that are used for space launches follow a different trajectory in order to keep the payload in orbit after flight.

According to the report, data suggest that the apogee of the rocket—the point at which it was farthest from the earth—was higher than the 10,000 kilometers that China claimed.

In the report, Weeden said that satellite images of the Xichang launch site approximately a month before the launch point toward a new weapons system because sounding rockets, typically used for scientific tests and research of the upper atmosphere, generally are launched from fixed structures on launch pads. None of the satellite images show a “viable sounding rocket” on any of the pads, the report says. That fact, in combination with other information, further puts the Chinese claims in question, the reports says.

The report notes that none of China’s current ballistic missiles could reach the altitude of the May 2013 test, leading Weeden to speculate the test could be China’s new Kuaizhou solid-fueled rocket space-launch vehicle. The Kuaizhou rocket was launched from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in September 2013, and amateur imagery of that launch shows it to be based on a mobile launch platform, Weeden said in his e-mail.

The State Department and the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency did not respond to inquiries by Arms Control Today regarding details of Weeden’s report.

A report by the Secure World Foundation has presented new evidence that a Chinese rocket launch last May was actually a test of a new anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon.

U.S., China Meet on Cybersecurity

Timothy Farnsworth

U.S. and Chinese officials met on July 8 to discuss cybersecurity issues between the two countries, including norms for state behavior in cyberspace, espionage, and intellectual theft. The meeting in Washington was the first of a cybersecurity working group of high-ranking civilian and military officials from the United States and China.

According to a senior Obama administration official, the discussions were constructive. “Both sides made practical proposals to increase our cooperation and build greater understanding and transparency between the two sides,” the official said during a background briefing to reporters after the meeting, adding that the United States “expect[s] this meeting will be the start of substantive and…sustained discussions” between it and China on cybersecurity issues. At a subsequent briefing July 11, a senior administration official said the two sides agreed to have a second meeting of the working group by the end of the year. Secretary of State John Kerry first announced the creation of the working group in an April 13 press briefing during a visit to China.

Cybersecurity issues have risen to the highest level of discussions between the two countries, including the meeting between President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping during their June summit in California. In recent months, Beijing and Washington have accused each other of conducting large-scale cyberintrusions into government and private computers. The main complaint by U.S. officials regarding China’s activities is the stealing of intellectual property from private U.S. companies. A May report from the U.S. Defense Department to Congress for the first time accused the Chinese government and military of being responsible for thousands of cyberattacks against the United States. (See ACT, June 2013.)

Although China publicly denies conducting cybertheft activities, “[i]n private, they aren’t disavowing it anymore,” James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said at a July 23 hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee.

The United States “went through something like this with China before regarding nonproliferation,” and “the steps we used there probably will work in this case,” said Lewis, a former U.S. official. The United States needs to “engage the Chinese directly” and come up with an agreement on what is responsible behavior in cyberspace, he said.

U.S. officials say the two countries have made some progress in opening up a dialogue over cybersecurity issues to include discussion of legal norms. During a June meeting of a UN group of governmental experts on cyberspace issues, China and the United States reached agreement that current international law, including the law of armed conflict and the law of state responsibility, applies to activities in cyberspace, a position that China previously opposed. The agreement between those two countries made possible a consensus statement by the 15-country group. (See ACT, July/August 2013.)

The cybersecurity talks from the U.S.-Chinese working group carried over into broader discussions between senior U.S. and Chinese officials on economic and security issues held during the same week in Washington.

“The success of our countries depends on one another,” U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said at the end of those talks July 11. Cybersecurity “is a critical new area where we need to reach a shared understanding of the rules of the road,” he said.

U.S. and Chinese officials met on July 8 to discuss cybersecurity issues between the two countries, including norms for state behavior in cyberspace, espionage, and intellectual theft. 

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