China de­vel­ops anti-car­rier pulse weapons

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics - BY BILL GERTZ

China’s mil­i­tary is de­vel­op­ing elec­tro­mag­netic pulse weapons that Bei­jing plans to use against U.S. air­craft car­ri­ers in any fu­ture con­flict over Tai­wan, ac­cord­ing to an in­tel­li­gence re­port made pub­lic on July 21.

Por­tions of a Na­tional Ground In­tel­li­gence Cen­ter study on the lethal ef­fects of elec­tro­mag­netic pulse (EMP) and high-pow­ered mi­crowave (HPM) weapons re­vealed that the arms are part of China’s so-called “as­sas­sin’s mace” arse­nal — weapons that al­low a tech­no­log­i­cally in­fe­rior China to de­feat U.S. mil­i­tary forces.

EMP weapons mimic the gamma-ray pulse caused by a nu­clear blast that knocks out all elec­tron­ics, in­clud­ing com­put­ers and au­to­mo­biles, over wide ar­eas. The phe­nom­e­non was dis­cov­ered in 1962 af­ter an above­ground nu­clear test in the Pa­cific dis­abled elec­tron­ics in Hawaii.

The de­clas­si­fied in­tel­li­gence re­port, ob­tained by the pri­vate Na­tional Se­cu­rity Archive, pro­vides de­tails on China’s EMP weapons and plans for their use. An­nual Pen­tagon re­ports on China’s mil­i­tary in the past made only pass­ing ref­er­ences to the arms.

“For use against Tai­wan, China could det­o­nate at a much lower al­ti­tude (30 to 40 kilo­me­ters) [. . . ] to con­fine the EMP ef­fects to Tai­wan and its im­me­di­ate vicin­ity and min­i­mize dam­age to elec­tron­ics on the main­land,” the re­port said.

The re­port, pro­duced in 2005 and once la­beled “se­cret,” stated that Chinese mil­i­tary writ­ings have dis­cussed build­ing low-yield EMP war­heads, but “it is not known whether [the Chinese] have ac­tu­ally done so.”

The re­port said that in ad­di­tion to EMP weapons, “any lowyield strate­gic nu­clear war­head (or tac­ti­cal nu­clear war­heads) could be used with sim­i­lar ef­fects.”

“The DF-21 medium-range bal­lis­tic mis­sile has been men­tioned as a plat­form for the EMP at­tack against Tai­wan,” the re­port said.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, China’s elec­tronic weapons are part of what are called “trump card” or “as­sas­sin’s mace” weapons that “are based on new tech­nol­ogy that has been de­vel­oped in high se­crecy.”

“Trump card would be ap­pli­ca­ble if the Chinese have de­vel­oped new low-yield, pos­si­bly en­hanced, EMP war­heads, while as­sas­sin’s mace would ap­ply if older war­heads are em­ployed,” the re­port said.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, China con­ducted EMP tests on mice, rats, rab­bits, dogs and mon­keys that pro­duced eye, brain, bone mar­row and other or­gan in­juries. It stated that “it is clear the real pur­pose of the Chinese med­i­cal ex­per­i­ments is to learn the po­ten­tial hu­man ef­fects of ex­po­sure to pow­er­ful EMP and [high-pow­ered mi­crowave] ra­di­a­tion.”

The tests did not ap­pear de­signed for “anti-per­son­nel [ra­dio fre­quency] weapons” be­cause of the lim­ited amounts of ra­di­a­tion used.

How­ever, the re­port said an­other ex­pla­na­tion is that the Chinese tests may have been re­search “in­tended pri­mar­ily for tor­tur­ing prisoners,” or the tests may have been con­ducted to de­ter­mine safety or shield­ing stan­dards for mil­i­tary per­son­nel or weapons.

The med­i­cal re­search also ap­peared use­ful for China’s mil­i­tary in mak­ing sure that EMP weapons used against Tai­wan and “any vul­ner­a­ble U.S. [air­craft car­rier] would not push the U.S. across the nu­clear-re­sponse thresh­old,” the re­port said.

“China’s [high-al­ti­tude] EMP ca­pa­bil­ity could be used in two dif­fer­ent ways: as a sur­prise mea­sure af­ter China’s ini­tial strike against Tai­wan and other U.S. [air­craft car­rier strike group] as­sets have moved into a vul­ner­a­ble po­si­tion, and as a bluff in­tended to dis­suade the United States from de­fend­ing Tai­wan with a CVBG,” the Pen­tagon acro­nym for car­rier strike groups.

The bluff sce­nario would in­clude China’s an­nounce­ment of a re­sump­tion of at­mo­spheric nu­clear test­ing and warn of tests dur­ing a spec­i­fied pe­riod and then at­tack­ing Tai­wan’s in­fra­struc­ture with con­ven­tional forces.

China then would wait and see whether the U.S. car­ri­ers were de­ployed to de­fend Tai­wan.

The re­port con­cluded that China could con­sider us­ing EMP weapons against Tai­wan’s elec­tronic in­fra­struc­ture or against U.S. car­ri­ers if a con­flict breaks out in the Tai­wan Strait.

“The min­i­miza­tion of mil­i­tary ca­su­al­ties on CVBG as­sets is cal­cu­lated to lessen the like­li­hood of a U.S. nu­clear re­sponse to a Tai­wan strike em­ploy­ing nu­clear EMP,” the re­port said. “The min­i­miza­tion of ca­su­al­ties on Tai­wan is cal­cu­lated to lessen the an­i­mos­ity among Tai­wan’s pop­u­la­tion over forced re­uni­fi­ca­tion.”

Tai­wan broke with main­land China af­ter na­tion­al­ist forces fled to the is­land when com­mu­nists seized power in 1949.

The United States is bound by a 1979 law to pre­vent the forcible re­uni­fi­ca­tion of the is­land with the main­land, and China has said it is pre­pared to use force to claim the is­land.

Peter Pry, a for­mer con­gres­sional aide who helped di­rect a com­mis­sion on EMP sev­eral years ago, said the com­mis­sion found that China plans for nu­clear EMP strikes against the United States, as well as Tai­wan and car­rier forces, are part of its mil­i­tary doc­trine and ex­er­cises.

“There is also ev­i­dence that China is de­vel­op­ing, or has al­ready de­vel­oped, su­per-EMP nu­clear weapons that gen­er­ate ex­traor­di­nar­ily pow­er­ful EMP fields, based partly on de­sign in­for­ma­tion stolen from the United States,” Mr. Pry, pres­i­dent of the group EMPact Amer­ica, said in an email.

Mark Stokes, a for­mer Pen­tagon spe­cial­ist on China’s mil­i­tary, said the re­port’s de­tails on high­pow­ered mi­crowave are new.

The same state-run in­sti­tute, the China Academy of En­gi­neer­ing Physics, that makes China’s nu­clear war­heads is also a cen­ter of mi­crowave weapons re­search, he said.

Mi­crowave weapons would be used to shut down en­emy radar, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, com­put­ers and other elec­tron­ics in an open­ing salvo. The weapons also could jam elec­tron­ics of at­tack­ing air­craft and anti-ra­di­a­tion mis­siles, and as an anti-satel­lite weapon, de­grade sen­si­tive satel­lite elec- tronic sys­tems, he said.

Richard Fisher, a China mil­i­tary an­a­lyst, said EMP war­heads are likely to be an op­tion for China’s new DF-21D anti-ship bal­lis­tic mis­sile for the pur­pose of at­tack­ing large U.S. Navy ships with­out in­flict­ing im­me­di­ate mas­sive ca­su­al­ties.

Por­tions of a Na­tional Ground In­tel­li­gence Cen­ter study on the lethal ef­fects of elec­tro­mag­netic pulse (EMP) and high-pow­ered mi­crowave (HPM) weapons re­vealed that the arms are part of China’s so-called “as­sas­sin’s mace” arse­nal — weapons that al­low a tech­no­log­i­cally in­fe­rior China to de­feat U.S. mil­i­tary forces.

“Less is known about the longer-term ef­fects on per­son­nel of this kind of ra­di­a­tion at­tack,” said Mr. Fisher, who is with the In­ter­na­tional As­sess­ment and Strat­egy Cen­ter. “The more pow­er­ful nu­clear-pro­pelled neu­tron bomb was de­signed specif­i­cally for killing per­son­nel with­out a mas­sive blast.”

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Fo­cused: A sol­dier of the Chinese Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army’s honor guard bat­tal­ions strains dur­ing a daily train­ing ex­er­cise in Bei­jing on July 21.

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