The Chinese regime may soon deploy submarines armed with nuclear missiles for patrols in the Pacific Ocean, according to the Guardian. It appears the Guardian’s story is based more on analysis and not from a direct announcement by the Chinese military, but the analysis does hold its ground.
Chinese military officials are not commenting on when they will start the first patrols of their nuclear-armed submarines, but the report says they “insist the move is inevitable.” The Guardian also cites a May 18 analysis by the Federation of American Scientists on a report from the U.S. Department of Defense about China’s nuclear forces.
“China will probably conduct its first SSBN [ballistic missile submarine] nuclear deterrence patrol sometime in 2016,” the report says, and the analysis notes China has deployed submarines capable of carrying nuclear weapons in the past, but it was unclear on whether or not they were armed.
It says all four of China’s operational Jin-class SSBNs are in its Longpo (Yulin) Submarine Base on Hainan Island. It says China also has two Shang-class nuclear submarines at the base, and is constructing a fifth Jin-class submarine as well.
Any deployment of the submarines would inevitably have them pass through the South China Sea (where Hainan Island is located).
If China deployment of nuclear weapons in the South China Sea, it would very likely inflame the already volatile tensions in the region. The Chinese regime claims the South China Sea almost in its entirety and has enraged many neighboring countries by building artificial islands with military bases, and used its military to chase off foreign ships.