Coupled with its sea-based variant, the new JL-2 (CSS-NX-4) submarine-launched ballistic missile with identical performance parameters as the DF-31, China is fast putting into place a strategic missile capability that will considerably diminish the existing missile gap and cause the U.S. to review its nuclear weapon strategy. Representative Randy Forbes, who recently led a ten-member delegation to China, said on his return: "They are busy buying and building the best weapons they can. Money seems to be no object." Delegation member Jim Cooper said he was "much more worried" than before about China's rapid acquisition of offensive weaponry.  Statements such as these could well signal that Washington would be initiating a response in the not too distant future – if it has not already done so.
This opens the Pandora's Box of nuclear weapons dynamics. The U.S. Space Command could gain impetus to push space-based defensive and offensive strategic capabilities to the drawing board stage. Japan, which depends heavily on the U.S. nuclear umbrella and would be a partner in any theater missile defense project, may review its own national defense policy and the place for an indigenous nuclear deterrent. Meanwhile, South Korea and Taiwan, who surrendered their advanced nuclear weapons programs in the 1980s at the behest of the U.S., may well view a diminishing China-US missile gap as a threat to the latter's autonomous capacity to guarantee the traditionally accepted nuclear umbrella. In short, the ripple effect of a China-US missile race is bound to have serious repercussions not only in East Asia, but throughout the world.
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Hat tip: Simon World, who also posts links to other
Jamestown Foundation work.