Chinese nuclear missile base has north India in sight

May 17th, 2008 - 1:10 am ICT by admin  

New Delhi, May 16 (IANS) Two weeks after photographs of China’s nuclear submarines set alarm bells ringing for the Indian authorities, a commercial satellite has revealed a launching site for over 50 nuclear ballistic missiles, capable of striking all north Indian cities. According to commercial satellite images analysed by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) China has significantly reorganized the launching facilities near Delingha in the northern parts of Central China, said Hans Kristensen, a researcher with FAS.

The medium-range missiles also have Russia within striking range.

“From these launch pads for DF-21 missiles, southern Russia and northern India would be within range, but not Japan, Taiwan or Guam,” he wrote.

The DF-21 is a medium-range ballistic missile estimated by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) to have a range of approximately 1,330 miles (2,150 kilometers). It is China’s first solid-fuel ballistic missile and believed to carry a single warhead with a yield of 200-300 kilo-tonnes.

“The US government often highlights China’s deployment of new mobile missiles as a concern but keeps the details secret, so the discovery of the deployment area provides the first opportunity for the public to better understand how China operates its mobile ballistic missiles,” Kristensen said.

The revelation has come two weeks after satellite images of the Chinese Navy’s upcoming base at Hainan Island, 1,200 nautical miles from the strategic Malacca Strait and an access route to the Indian Ocean, has set off alarm bells across the Indian establishment.

The latest images were posted along with Kristensen’s analysis on the website of the Federation of American Scientists. Kristensen said the imagery revealed missile launch sites along a 275-kilometer (170 miles) stretch of highway leading from the city of Delingha through Da Qaidam to Mahai in the northern part of Qinghai province.

Thirty-six launch pads were arrayed in three strings extending north of the highway and west of Delingha. Another 22 launch pads were detected in an area running west of Da Qaidam to Mahai, according to Kristensen’s analysis.

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