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ISBN 0-9653386-451500

Report:  Chinese Nuclear Forces
and U.S. Nuclear War Planning

November 30, 2006

China and the United States are in a nuclear arms race. Not an arms race of the intensity and proportions of the U.S.-Soviet arms race during the Cold War, but an arms race nonetheless. The U.S.-Chinese adversarial nuclear relationship goes back to the Korean War, but the scope and sophistication of the race appears to be increasing.

In parallel with a modernization of military forces in general, both countries are upgrading their nuclear forces with an eye to what the other is doing. The political establishments on both sides of the Pacific - and some media and private institutes - are busy highlighting the other country as a threat.

In doing that, Chinese Nuclear Forces and U.S. Nuclear War Planning documents how the Pentagon, the intelligence community, congressional committees, private institutions and part of the news media frequently exaggerate Chinese nuclear capabilities and cherry-pick new developments out of context to show a threat. The examples are then used when advocating increased military deployments or development of more efficient weapons capabilities to counter the Chinese threat.

Chinese Nuclear Forces and U.S. Nuclear War Planning is written by Hans M. Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at FAS, Robert S. Norris, senior research associate with the NRDC nuclear program, and Matthew G. McKinzie, scientific consultant with the NRDC nuclear program. The report is published jointly by Federation of American Scientists and Natural Resources Defense Council.

The report examines the debate over China's modernization of its nuclear forces, reviews the composition and possible future development of the Chinese nuclear arsenal, describes past and current U.S. nuclear targeting of China, and uses government software to simulate the effects of Chinese and U.S. of nuclear attacks.

The report urges China and the United States to take urgent steps to halt and reverse the race.

The report is based on numerous documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, other documents published by the U.S. and Chinese governments, studies by private institutes, news media reports, other publicly available information, and high-resolution commercial satellite images.

The 250-page report contains the following sections, which can either be downloaded individually or as the full report below or from the right-hand document bar:

The full report is available here (PDF, 12.50 MB)

Take Google Earth Trip of Chinese Military Facilities

Making use of the unique capabilities of the free Google Earth program, FAS and NRDC have designed a virtual trip of selected nuclear and military facilities in China. Here is how you use it:

1. Download Google Earth onto your computer.

2. Click here or on the map to the right to download the FAS-NRDC Google file. The program will ask you to either open in Google Earth or download to your hard drive.

3. When Google Earth has finished loading on your computer, make sure the check-box "Chinese Nuclear Forces and U.S. Nuclear War Planning" in the "Places" window to the left is checked to activate the placemarks.

4. Click once on the first placemark ("Chinese Nuclear Forces and U.S. Nuclear War Planning") to open the text "bubble" with information.

5. If all the placemarks have not opened automatically, click the "plus-box" to the left of the "check-box" in the "Places" window.

6. Those placemarks with an icon that looks like the Google Earth logo or a file-folder contain additional sub-placemarks. Click on the "plus-box" to open each folder. Note that some air bases contain sub-placemarks for each aircraft.

7. Double-click on each consecutive placemark to zoom in on each facility. Don't forget to use the "tilt" and "rotate" functions of Google Earth to get a better view.

8. The last two folders contain graphic displays of nuclear strike simulations. These simulations are explained in detail in the Chapter 4 of the report.

NOTE: Also read the report blog at http://fas.org/blog/ssp/


Hans M. Kristensen/Federation of American Scientists | www.nukestrat.com | 2004-2006

download documents:

Hans M. Kristensen, et al., Chinese Nuclear Forces and U.S. Nuclear War Planning, Federation of American Scientists and Natural Resources Defense Council, October 2006 (PDF, 12.50 MB)

Satellite images of selected Chinese military facilities (requires Google Earth)

Adobe Acrobat Reader
required to view


  Hans M. Kristensen