China is working on electromagnetic pulse weapons that it could use against U.S. aircraft carriers if there is a future conflict over Taiwan. Is China itching for a fight?
According to The Washington Times, the information originates from an intelligence report made public on Thursday.
Excerpts of a National Ground Intelligence Center study on electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and high-powered microwave (HPM) weapons claim the arms are a part of Beijing's "assassin’s mace" and "trump card" arsenal - designed to help technologically inferior China beat U.S. military forces.
EMPs imitate the gamma-ray wave caused by a nuclear blast that takes out all electronics, like computers and automobiles, over large areas.
The intelligence report provides details about China’s EMP weapons and their plans for them. Reports on China's military in the past only made references to the sci-fi 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 says.
The report - written in 2005 - was labeled "secret" for a long time. It claims Beijing has discussed building low-yield EMP missiles, but "it is not known whether [the Chinese] have actually done so."
The report also estimates "any low-yield 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... [A] trump card [strategy] 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."
China did conduct EMP tests on mice, rats, rabbits, dogs and monkeys that resulted in eye, brain, bone marrow and other injuries. The report notes "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."
Because of the limited amounts of radiation used, officials do not think that the tests were designed for "anti-personnel [radio frequency] weapons."
The tests may have been intended for torturing prisoners, or determining safety and shielding standards for military personnel or weapons.
The report postulates that China might consider utilizing EMPs against Taiwan’s electric systems or in opposition to U.S. carriers if a battle erupts 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 minimization of casualties on Taiwan is calculated to lessen the animosity among Taiwan’s population over forced reunification."
Taiwan left China after nationalist forces escaped to the island when the commies took power in 1949.
The United States is committed to a 1979 law to stop the forced reunification of the island with China.
Former congressional aide Peter Pry, who aided a commission on EMP many years ago, said the commission discovered that China has plans for nuclear EMP attacks against the U.S. These and many similar plans are a 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, explained in an email.
Former Pentagon specialist on China's military, Mark Stokes, confirmed the report’s information on powerful microwaves is new.
The China Academy of Engineering Physics makes China’s nuclear warheads and conducts all of their weapons research, he said.
Microwave weapons could be used to cut off enemy radar, communications, computers and other electronics in an initial attack. They could also block electronics of attacking aircraft and anti-radiation missiles, and as an anti-satellite weapon, degrade sensitive satellite electronic systems.
Sino military analyst, Richard Fisher, said EMP warheads are a possible component for China’s new DF-21D anti-ship missile designed to assault large U.S. Navy ships without causing massive casualties.
"Less is known about the longer-term effects on personnel of this kind of radiation attack," said 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."
The relationship between the U.S. and China has many similarities to the Cold War. Will we be going to war with China too? Tell us what you think.