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Current Affairs

China builds nuclear missile silos

Date: 27 August 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Satellite images have captured China building three missile silo fields in Yumen in Gansu province.

 

Background

Missile silos are bunkers where missiles are set up for attacking an enemy country during a situation of war.

 

Details

  • Apart from the recent silos, others were discovered in Hanggin Banner field, Hami and also Jilantai training area of Inner Mongolia.

  • The images were obtained from commercial satellites. They were studied and identified by experts in Chinese policy.

  • The silos are placed in patterned grids with a distance of 3km between each other. They are protected by domed shelters.

 

Earlier structures

China had about 20 missile silos for its liquid propelled DF-5 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). After the new completion, China may have 250-270 new missile silos.

 

Reason for new building

  • Experts say that it is a preparation for Launch on Warning (LOW) system. LOW system allows a country to launch missile after detecting an incoming missile before it hits the target.

  • China’s nuclear policy is based on deterrence through assured retaliation. This can be implemented only if its nuclear arsenal survives an onslaught.

  • This is also a signal that China is planning to expand its nuclear arsenal in order to achieve global domination.

  • There is also a belief that the silos are constructed as a decoy for foreign adversaries. China is fully aware of satellite imaging and plans to mislead the world on its nuclear capabilities.

  • All the silos may not contain nuclear warheads, which would make enemy attacks futile if it targets empty ones. More enemy nuclear warheads will be wasted.

  • Developing empty silos may also be a power show to the world regarding its capability. It could improve its image as serious nuclear power and an equal to the US.

 

Chinese response

China says that the constructions were merely wind farms and accused US of peddling lies to create fear regarding China.

 

Threats to India

  • On the surface, the structure is built for US deterrence but they may be used against India in case of escalation.

  • India and China have ‘no-first-use’ policy regarding nuclear missiles. However, the situation of war may change such belief.