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China 'shocked' to be on U.S. nuke hit list

Washington views China as a potential future military adversary
Washington views China as a potential future military adversary  

Staff and wires

BEIJING, China -- The Chinese government says it is "deeply shocked" at reports of U.S. military plans to target seven countries, including China, for the possible future use of nuclear weapons.

Speaking to reporters in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi called on Washington to explain the reports which first appeared in the Los Angeles Times and New York Times at the weekend.

According to the newspapers, the secret "nuclear posture review" was passed to the U.S. Congress by the Pentagon in January outlining the possible use of nuclear weapons against countries that possess or are developing weapons of mass destruction.

Apart from China the countries listed on the report are Libya, Syria Russia, Iran, Iraq and North Korea.

Officials in the Bush administration have since sought to play down the implications of the review saying that the United States reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in the event it or its allies are attacked, but that the document itself does not represent a change in policy.

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Furthermore, they say, it most certainly does not signal any intention to launch pre-emptive nuclear strikes against the named countries.

However, China appears unconvinced by such assurances with Sun saying the U.S. "bears the responsibility to make an explanation on this matter."

'No threat'

China is a peace-loving country that poses no threat to any other nation, he was quoted as saying Monday by the official Xinhua news agency.

Noting that the United States and China have an agreement not to target each other with nuclear weapons he said China "has always held that nuclear weapons should be comprehensively prohibited and thoroughly destroyed."

"Countries with nuclear weapons should undertake unconditionally not to be the first to use them, and not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states or nuclear-weapon-free regions," Xinhua quoted him as saying.

"Any Cold War mentality goes against the global trend of peace and development through cooperation, and is doomed to failure," he added.

Launch conditions

The Pentagon report listed three conditions in which the use of nuclear weapons might be considered, including:

  • use against targets capable to withstand non-nuclear attacks;
  • in retaliation for an attack with nuclear, biological or chemical weapons;
  • and a third, catch-all category: "in the event of surprising military developments."
  • The Pentagon report says one possible contingency for the use of nuclear weapons is Chinese military action against Taiwan
    The Pentagon report says one possible contingency for the use of nuclear weapons is Chinese military action against Taiwan  

    One of the possible contingencies in which U.S. use of nuclear weapons is envisaged is in the event of a military confrontation between China and Taiwan -- an issue that Beijing regards as a purely domestic concern.

    Despite a recent warming of relations between China and the U.S. seen during President Bush's recent visit to Beijing many analysts say Washington continues to view Beijing as a strategic competitor and even a potential future military adversary.

    In December last year a CIA report on China's strategic weapons program said the Chinese military was looking to substantially boost its current arsenal of about 20 silo-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of hitting the continental United States.

    It said that in order to be able to penetrate the United States' proposed missile defense shield Beijing was planning to deploy around 100 highly mobile ICBMs, many of them equipped with multiple independent warheads.

    Beijing dismissed the report as "baseless speculation."


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