The United States is vulnerable to a Chinese nuclear strike. Admitting this reality should not be seen as a diplomatic favor to the Chinese, but as a prerequisite for prudent U.S. defense policy.
China’s nuclear arsenal is small but very well protected. It includes a few score of intercontinental ballistic missiles that can deliver a warhead to targets in the United States. Some are older liquid-fueled missiles fixed in hardened silos that could conceivably be taken out in a preemptive U.S. first strike. But the others are newer solid-fueled missiles that are not in fixed locations. They are transported by trucks and enjoy the secrecy and protection afforded by a large network of underground facilities linked by tunnels. Even if the United States were to launch a massive preemptive strike, it would take considerable hubris to believe China would not be able to retaliate. China is also developing the option to deploy nuclear missiles on submarines.
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