Strategic Weapons: January 3, 2000


China has recently dropped an intelligence bombshell in the form of the DF25 missile. The missile was first noted in 1992 as a conventionally-armed missile with a range of 1,500 miles. Its mission was to enforce Chinese sovereignty over the Spratly Islands. No one paid it much attention as it posed no real strategic threat. The Chinese published stories in 1994 and again in 1996 claiming that the DF25 had been canceled. As recently as a few months ago, the CIA was reporting that the DF25 program no longer existed. But then, the Chinese published two articles summarizing their missile programs. Written independently, the two articles covered the same information, basically confirming each other's facts. Western intelligence is convinced that this was a deliberate move by China to show the West what it had as a matter of deterrence. Curiously, neither article appeared in English, and only the specialized military press seems aware of the articles. Both articles listed the DF25, apparently alive and well, as a multi-warhead mobile nuclear missile with a range now extended to 2,500 miles. Such a missile would allow China to shut down the sea lanes approaching Taiwan or Japan during a future conflict. --Stephen V Cole


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