Proliferation News
» October 27, 2011
 

The "Underground Great Wall:" An Alternative Explanation

James Acton | Carnegie Proliferation Analysis

China

It is tempting to dismiss the story in Monday's Wall Street Journal claiming that China has around 3,000 nuclear warheads as the kind of reporting that could only be considered "fair and balanced" on Fox News and just ignore it. After all, as long ago as 2004, Jeffrey Lewis tracked down the origin of media reports cited by the Journal that China has 2,350 nuclear weapons.

Embarrassingly, the source is an online essay based on bogus U.S. intelligence information that was posted by a Singapore University student. Moreover, it hardly seems worth wasting storage space on the Carnegie server explaining why it is invalid to estimate the size of China's contemporary arsenal by taking a 1960s U.S. intelligence report that predicted how many warheads China would have in 1973 and then assuming that it has built up at a constant rate since then. What does make the article worth engaging with, however, is its inability to even try to understand China's strategic challenges and why it might go to some fairly extreme lengths to try to solve them.     Full Article



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