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– Hans Blix,
former IAEA Director-General

Missile Proliferation

Qatar Displays Chinese Missile

Qatar Displays Chinese Missile

Qatar riled its Persian Gulf neighbors when it displayed a previously unseen, Chinese-made short-range ballistic missile system at a military parade. The sale of the missiles had not been public knowledge until they were spotted on transporter-erector launchers in a Dec. 17 rehearsal for the Qatar National Day Parade. Joseph Dempsey, a research associate at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, recognized the missiles, which he highlighted in a series of Twitter posts. In an observation confirmed by other analysts, he noted that the two eight-axle launcher vehicles in the parade appeared to be configured to carry BP-12A ballistic missile canisters, although they could alternatively carry eight canisters for the smaller, related SY-400 missile.

Members of Qatar's armed forces march in national day celebrations December 18, 2017. The parade reportedly included a previously unseen, Chinese-made short-range ballistic missile system.  (Photo: STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)Officials from the China National Precision Machinery Import/Export Corp. marketed the BP-12A at an international arms show in 2012 as having a range up to 280 kilometers (173 miles) and a payload capability of 480 kilograms. The SY-400 is believed to have a similar or slightly shorter range and roughly half the payload capability. The sale of the BP-12A does not appear to violate the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which urges its 35 members to restrict exports of missile technologies capable of carrying a 500-kilogram payload a distance of at least 300 kilometers.

China’s bid to join the MTCR was rejected in 2004 due to concern that Chinese entities were continuing to provide missile technology to North Korea, although at the time Beijing voluntarily pledged to follow the regime’s export control guidelines and has since generally tightened its export controls. In recent years, China has increasingly marketed and sold the SY-400 and other missile systems to foreign customers, particularly in the Middle East.

The reveal of the missile sale comes amid a months-long dispute between Qatar and other gulf Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, where media outlets complained that Qatar’s new missiles potentially could strike targets in their countries. Saudi Arabia also has secretly purchased ballistic missiles from China.—MACLYN SENEAR

Posted: March 1, 2018

Worldwide Ballistic Missile Inventories

December 2017

Contact: Kelsey Davenport, Director for Nonproliferation Policy, (202) 463-8270 x102

Updated: December 2017

The following chart lists 31 countries, including the United States and its allies, which currently possess ballistic missiles. For each country, the chart details the type of missile, its operational status, and the best-known public estimates of each missile’s range.

Only nine (China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) of the 31 states below are known or suspected of possessing nuclear weapons. These nine states and Iran have produced or flight-tested missiles with ranges exceeding 1,000 kilometers. China and Russia are the only two states that are not U.S. allies that have a proven capability to launch ballistic missiles from their territories that can strike the continental United States. This factsheet does not list countries' cruise missiles.

Ballistic Missile Basics

Ballistic missiles are powered by rockets initially but then they follow an unpowered, free-falling trajectory toward their targets. They are classified by the maximum distance that they can travel, which is a function of how powerful the missile’s engines (rockets) are and the weight of the missile’s payload. To add more distance to a missile’s range, rockets are stacked on top of each other in a configuration referred to as staging. There are four general classifications of ballistic missiles:

  • Short-range ballistic missiles, traveling less than 1,000 kilometers (approximately 620 miles);
  • Medium-range ballistic missiles, traveling between 1,000–3,000 kilometers (approximately 620-1,860 miles);
  • Intermediate-range ballistic missiles, traveling between 3,000–5,500 kilometers (approximately 1,860-3,410 miles); and
  • Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), traveling more than 5,500 kilometers.

Short- and medium-range ballistic missiles are referred to as theater ballistic missiles, whereas ICBMs or long-range ballistic missiles are described as strategic ballistic missiles. Missiles are often classified by fuel-type: liquid or solid propellants. Missiles with solid fuel require less maintenance and preparation time than missiles with liquid fuel because solid-propellants have the fuel and oxidizer together, whereas liquid-fueled missiles must keep the two separated until right before deployment.

Country

System[1]

Status

Range[2]

Propellant

Afghanistan

Frog-7

Operational

70 km

Solid

Scud-B

Unknown[3]

300 km

Liquid

Armenia

Frog-7

Operational

70 km

Solid

Scud-B[4]

Operational

300 km

Liquid

SS-21 Scarab-C

Operational

70-120 km

Liquid

SS-26 Stone (Iskander E)

Operational

280 km

Solid

Bahrain

ATACMS Block 1 (MGM-140)

Operational

165 km

Solid

Belarus

Frog-7

Operational

70 km

Solid

SS-21 Scarab B

Operational

120 km

Solid

Scud-B

Operational

300 km

Liquid

China

B611 (CSS-X-11)

Operational

250 km

Solid

M-7 (CSS-8)

Operational

190-250 km


Liquid

DF-4 (CSS-3)

Operational

5,500+ km


Liquid

DF-5 (CSS-4, Mod 1)

Operational

12,000 km


Liquid

DF-5A (CSS-4, Mod 2)

Operational

13,000+ km


Liquid

DF-5B (CSS-4 Mod 3)

Operational

12,000 km

Liquid

DF-5C

Tested/Development

13,000 km

Liquid

DF-11 (CSS-7)

Operational

280 km


Solid

DF-11A (CSS-7)

Operational

350 km

Solid

DF-15A (CSS-6)

Operational

900 km


Solid

DF-15B (CSS-6)

Operational

50-800 km

Solid

DF-15C (CSS-6)

Development

Unknown

Solid

DF-16 (CSS-11)

Operational

800-1000 km

Solid

DF-21 (CSS-5, Mod 1)

Operational

1750+ km


Solid

DF-21A (CSS-5, Mod 2)

Operational

1,770+ km


Solid

DF-21C (CSS-5 Mod 4)

Operational

2,150-2,500 km


Solid

DF-21D (CSS-5 Mod 5) ASBM variant

Operational

1,500 km


Solid

DF-26

Operational

4,000 km

Solid

DF-31 (CSS-10 Mod 1)

Operational

7,000+ km


Solid

DF-31A (CSS-10 Mod 2)

Operational

11,000+ km

Solid

DF-41 (CSS-X-20)

Development

12,000-15,000 km

Solid

Julang (JL) 1 (CSS-N-3) (SLBM)

Retiring

1,000+ km


Solid

Julang (JL) 2 (CSS-N-14) (SLBM)

Operational

7,000+ km

Solid

Julang (JL) 3 (SLBM)

Development

unknown

Solid

Egypt

R-300 (SS-1-C Scud-B)

Operational

300 km

Liquid

Project-T (Scud B-100)

Operational

450 km

Liquid

Scud-C

Operational

550 km

Liquid

R-70 Luna M (Frog-7B)

Operational

70 km

Solid

Sakr-80

Operational

80+ km

Solid

France

M45 (SLBM)

Operational (Will be replaced by M51)

4,000-6000 km


Solid

M51.1 (SLBM)

Operational

6,000+ km


Solid

M51.2 (SLBM)

Tested/Development

6,000+ km


Solid

M51.3 (SLBM)

Development

unknown

Solid

Georgia

Scud B

Operational

300 km

Liquid

Greece

ATACMS Block 1 (MGM-140)

Operational

165 km

Solid

India[6]

Prithvi-I

Operational

150 km

Liquid

Prahaar

Tested/ Development

150 km

Solid

Prithvi-II

Operational

250-350 km

Liquid

Prithvi-III

Development

350 km

Solid

Dhanush (ship-launched)

Operational

400 km

Liquid

Sagarika/K-15 (SLBM)

Tested/Development

700 km

Solid

Agni-I

Operational

700-1,200 km

Solid

Agni-II

Operational

2,000+ km

Solid

Agni-III

Operational

3,200+ km

Solid

Agni-IV

Tested/Development

3,500+ km

Solid

Agni-V

Tested/Development

5,200+ km

Solid

Agni-VI

Development

8,000-10,000 km

Solid

K-4 (SLBM)

Tested/Development

3,500 km

Solid

K-5 (SLBM)

Rumored Development

6,000+ km

Solid

Iran

 

Mushak-120

Operational

130 km

Solid

Mushak-160

Operational

160 km

Solid

Qiam-1

Operational

500-1,000 km

Liquid

Fateh-110

Operational

200-300 km

Solid

Fateh-313

Operational

500 km

Solid

Tondar-69 (CSS-8)

Operational

150 km

Solid

Scud-B (Shahab 1)

Operational

300 km

Liquid

Scud-C (Shahab 2)

Operational

500 km

Liquid

Zolfaghar

Operational

700 km

Solid

Shahab-3 (Zelzal-3)

Operational

800-1,000 km

Liquid

Ghadr 1/Modified Shahab-3/Kadr Ghadr 110

Tested/Development

1,000-2,000 km

Liquid

Ashura/Sejjil/Sejjil-2

Operational

1,500-2,500 km

Solid

BM-25/Musudan (Suspected)

Unclear

2,500+ km

Liquid

Khoramshahr

Tested/Development

2,000 km

Liquid

Emad-1

Tested/Development

1,750-2,000 km

Liquid

Iraq[7]

Al Fat’h (Ababil-100)

Operational

160 km

Solid

Al Samoud II

Operational

180-200 km

Liquid

Israel

LORA

Operational

280 km

Solid

Jericho-2

Operational

1,500-3,500 km

Solid

Jericho-3

Operational

4,800-6,500 km

Solid

Kazakhstan

Frog-7

Operational

70 km

Solid

Tochka-U (SS-21 Scarab-B)

Operational

120 km

Solid

R-300 (SS-1-C Scud-B)

Operational

300 km

Liquid

Libya[8]

Frog-7

Operational

70 km

Solid

Al Fatah (Itislat)

Tested/Development (on hold)

1,300-1,500 km

Liquid

Scud-B

Operational

300 km

Liquid

North Korea

KN-02 (Toksa/SS-21 variant)

Operational

120-170 km

Solid

Scud-B variant/Hwasong 5

Operational

300 km

Liquid

Scud-C variant/Hwasong 6

Operational

500 km

Liquid

Scud-C variant/Hwasong 7

Operational

700-1,000 km

Liquid

No-Dong-1

Operational

1,200-1,500 km

Liquid

Frog-7

Operational

70 km

Solid

Taepo Dong-1[9]

Tested

2,000-5,000 km

Liquid

Taepo Dong-2 (2-stage) [10]

Tested/Development

4,000-10,000 km

Liquid

Taepo Dong-2 (3-stage)/Unha-2 SLV

Tested/Development

10,000-15,000 km

Liquid

No-Dong-2(B)/ Musudan/BM-25/Hwasong-10 [11]

Tested/Development

2,500-4,000 km

Liquid

KN-17/Hwasong-12

Tested/Development

4,500 km

Liquid

KN-08/Hwasong-13 

Development

5,500-11,500 km

Liquid

KN-14/Hwasong-13/KN-08 Mod 2

Tested/Development

8,000-10,000 km

Liquid

KN-11/Pukkuksong-1/Polaris-1

Tested/Development

1,200 km

Solid

KN-15/Pukkuksong-2

Tested/Development

1,200-2,000 km

Solid

KN-20/Hwasong-14

Tested/Development

10,000+ km

Liquid

KN-22/Hwasong-15

Tested/Development

13,000 km

Liquid

KN-18/ Scud variant

Tested/Development

450+

Liquid

Pakistan

Hatf-1

Operational

70-100 km

Solid

Hatf-2 (Abdali)

Operational

180-200 km

Solid

Hatf-3 (Ghaznavi)

Operational

290 km

Solid

Shaheen-1 (Hatf-4)

Operational

750 km

Solid

Shaheen-1A (Hatf-4)

Tested/Development

900 km

Solid

Ghauri-1 (Hatf-5)

Operational

1,250-1,500 km

Liquid

Ghauri-2 (Hatf-5a)

Tested/Development

1,800 km

Liquid

Shaheen-2 (Hatf-6)

Operational

1,500-2,500 km

Solid

Ghauri-3 [12]

Development

3,000 km

Liquid

Nasr (Hatf-9)

Development

60 km

Solid

Romania

Scud-B

Operational

300 km

Liquid

Russia

RS-20V (SS-18 Satan)

Operational

10,200-16,000 km

Liquid

RS-18 (SS-19 Stiletto)

Operational

10,000 km

Liquid

SS-21 Scarab A

Operational

70 km

Solid

SS-21 Scarab B/ Tochka U

Operational

120 km

Solid

SS-24

Operational

10,000 km

Solid

RS-12M Topol (SS-25 Sickle)

Operational

10,500-11,000 km

Solid

RS-12M1 Topol-M (SS-27) [13]

Operational

11,000 km

Solid

RS-12M2 Topol-M (SS-27 Mod-X-2) (silo)

Operational

11,000 km

Solid

RS-24 Yars (mobile and silo versions) (SS-27 Mod 2)

Operational

10,500 km

Solid

RS-26 Rubezh/Yars M (SS-27)

Tested/Development

5,800 km

Solid

SS-26 Iskander

Operational

400-500 km

Solid

SS-N-8 (R-29) (SLBM)

Operational

8,000 km

Liquid

RSM-50 Volna (SS-N-18) (SLBM)

Operational

6,500-8,000 km

Liquid

SS-N-20 Sturgeon (R-39) (SLBM)

Retiring

8,300 km

Solid

RSM-54 Sineva (SS-N-23 or R-29RM) (SLBM)

Operational

8,300 km

Liquid

RSM-56 Bulava (SS-N-32) (SLBM)

Operational

8,300 km

Solid

SS-26 Tender (Iskander-M)

Operational

500 km

Solid

SS-26 Stone (Iskander-E)

Operational

280 km

Solid

Saudi Arabia

DF-3 (CSS-2)

Operational

2,600 km

Liquid

DF-21 East Wind (CSS-5)

Operational

2,100+ km

Solid

Slovakia

SS-21

Operational

120 km

Solid

South Korea

NHK-1 (Hyonmu-1)

Operational

180 km

Solid

NHK-2 (Hyonmu-2)

Operational

180-250 km

Solid

NHK-2B (Hyunmoo-2B)

Operational

500-800 km

Solid

NHK-2C (Hyunmoo-2C)

Development

800 km

Solid

ATACMS Block 1

Operational

165 km

Solid

Syria

SS-21-B (Scarab-B)

Operational

120 km

Solid

SS-1-C (Scud-B)

Operational

300 km


Liquid

SS-1-D (Scud-C)

Operational

500-700 km

Liquid

SS-1-E (Scud-D)

Tested/Development

700 km

Liquid

CSS-8 (Fateh 110A)

Operational

210-250 km

Solid

Frog-7

Operational

70 km

Solid

Taiwan

Qing Feng

Operational

130 km

Liquid

Tien Chi

Operational

120 km

Solid

ATACMS Block 1

Operational

165 km

Solid

Turkey

ATACMS Block 1 (MGM-140)

Operational

165 km

Solid

J-600T Yildirim I and II

Operational

150-300 km

Solid

Turkmenistan

Scud-B

Operational

300 km

Liquid

United Arab Emirates

Scud-B

Operational

300 km

Liquid

ATACMS Block 1A

Operational

300 km

Solid

 

United Kingdom

D-5 Trident II (SLBM)

Operational

7,400-12,000 km

Solid

United States

ATACMS Block I

Operational

165 km

Solid

ATACMS Block IA

Operational

300 km

Solid

Minuteman III (LGM-30G)

Operational

9,650-13,000 km

Solid

D-5 Trident II (SLBM)

Operational

7,400-12,000 km

Solid

Vietnam

Scud-B

Operational

300 km

Liquid

Scud-C variant

Operational

500 km

Liquid

 

Yemen

Scud-B

Operational

300 km

Liquid

SS-21 (Scarab)

Operational

70-120 km

Solid

Scud C variant

Operational

600 km

Liquid

Frog-7

Operational

70 km

Solid

ENDNOTES:

1. All missiles are surface-to-surface unless otherwise noted. SLBM is an acronym for a submarine-launched ballistic missile and ASBM is an acronym for an anti-ship ballistic missile.

2. The ranges, given in kilometers (km) are estimates based on publicly available sources. These figures, however, do not all necessarily reflect the missile’s maximum range, which may vary with its payload. Equipping a missile with a lighter payload would increase its range. Similarly, a heavier payload would diminish a missile’s range.

3. A January 15, 2001 report by the UN Monitoring Group on Afghanistan concluded that, prior to the October 2001 U.S.-led offensive in Afghanistan, there were approximately 100 Scud-B missiles and at least four Scud mobile launchers in Afghanistan. The current distribution and operational capability of the missiles are unknown, although the UN Monitoring Group speculated that up to 30 of the missiles might be under control of the Northern Alliance.

4. According to a 1997 report by Lev Rokhlin, then-Chairman of the Russian State Duma’s Committee on Defense, Russia transferred eight Scud-B ballistic missiles and 24 Scud launchers, along with other military hardware, to Armenia between 1993-1996. Responding to publication of the report in the Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta and to formal requests by the Azerbaijan government, then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin ordered an investigation into the claims. They were subsequently confirmed in April 1997 by Aman Tuleyev, then-Russian minister for relations with the Commonwealth of Independent States.

5. According to the Department of Defense’s 2009 report on China’s military power, Beijing is investing in conventionally-armed ASBMs based on the CSS-5 airframe which could employ “terminal-sensitive penetrating sub-munitions” in order to hold surface ships at risk.

6. India and Pakistan claim that their missiles are not deployed, meaning that the missiles are not on launchers, aimed at particular locations, or kept on a high state of alert. The missiles are in a state of “induction” with the nuclear warheads stored in facilities separate from the missile units and airfields. Pakistan and India, however, have deployed their missiles on a number of occasions, such as the Kargil crisis in July 1999.

7. Because of lack of current documentary evidence and inconsistencies in source reporting, the status of Iraq’s ballistic missile arsenal is unclear. The United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) determined in 2003 that the Al Samoud II and the Al Fat’h missiles exceeded the range permitted under UN Security Council Resolution 687. That resolution prohibited Iraq from possessing missiles with ranges exceeding 150 kilometers. UN inspectors began the destruction of these missiles on March 1, 2003, but the inspectors were withdrawn before all of the missiles had been eliminated. According to UNMOVIC’s 13th Quarterly Report, only two-thirds of the Al Samoud II missiles declared by Iraq had been destroyed. The 2004 Iraq Survey Group Report by the United States asserted that a “full accounting of the Al Fat’h missiles may not be possible.”

8. According to a CIA Report, Libya privately pledged to the United States in 2003 that it would eliminate all missiles classified as Category I systems by the MTCR. Category I pertains to missiles capable of traveling 300 kilometers or more with a payload of at least 500 kilograms, the presumed minimum weight for a first-generation nuclear warhead. Libya, however, still maintains a missile development program for systems that fall below the Category I threshold capability. Given Libya's obligations under its 2003 WMD renunciation, development of its Al-Fatah missile is on hold until it can meet MTCR requirements. Additionally, Libya's Scud-B arsenal is of questionable utility due to poor maintenance and testing record.

9. The Taepo Dong-1 was first flight-tested August 31, 1998. Its first two stages worked but a third stage failed. The missile has not been flight-tested again and is widely believed to have been a technology demonstrator rather than a missile system intended for deployment.

10. North Korea has carried out two flight tests of what is believed to be its Taepo Dong-2 missile. The test of a two-stage version failed about 40 seconds into its flight on July 5, 2006. The missile is assessed to have used a cluster of No Dong missiles for its first stage and a Scud or No Dong-based second stage. On April 5, 2009, North Korea launched what it called its Unha-2 space launch vehicle, widely believed to be a three-stage variant of its Taepo Dong-2. The first two stages of the rocket were successful and fell in the splashdown zones previously announced by North Korea. U.S. Northern Command said the day of the launch that the third stage and its payload both landed in the Pacific Ocean. Independent analysts assess that the second stage of the Taepo Dong-2 is based on a variant of the Soviet SS-N-6.

11. Although North Korea has never flight-tested the intermediate-range Musudan, a variant of the SS-N-6, Washington alleges that Pyongyang has deployed the missile. The SS-N-6 originally was a Soviet submarine-launched ballistic missile, but North Korea is reportedly deploying it as a road-mobile missile. There also is speculation that North Korea has transferred this missile to Iran.

12. Development of the Ghauri-3 missile was reportedly abandonded for unknown reasons.

13. The SS-27 (Topol-M/RS-12M) is deployed in both road-mobile and silo-based configurations.


Sources: Arms Control Association; Missile Defense Agency; U.S. Department of Defense; Congressional Research Service; National Air and Space Intelligence Center; U.S. Department of State; Federation of American Scientists; Center for Strategic and International Studies; Nuclear Threat Initiative

-Research assistance by Brianna Starosciak

 


 

Nuclear/Ballistic Missile Nonproliferation

Subject Resources:

Posted: December 1, 2017

Iran’s Simorgh Rocket Test in Perspective

Iran announced Thursday it had launched a Simorgh rocket space-launch vehicle (SLV) from the Imam Khomeini National Space Station. Although Iranian state media claimed a successful launch, no independent sources have confirmed this assertion. The rocket launch comes amid escalatory rhetoric between Tehran and Washington surrounding the future of the 2015 nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Last week, the State Department certified Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA, as required by Congress every 90 days. Nevertheless, President Trump recently told The Wall...

The P5+1 and Iran Nuclear Deal Alert, June 2017

EU Reiterates Commitment to Nuclear Deal as U.S. Moves Forward with Sanctions EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini reiterated the European Union's commitment to the nuclear deal with Iran known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) at a June 13 Oslo Forum press briefing . She said the EU will “guarantee that the deal keeps” and she is confident that the Iran policy review in the United States will lead to "wise decisions” and keep “something that is working.” The Trump administration is conducting an interagency review of U.S. policy toward Iran, which includes examining...

India Tests Two Missiles

India Tests Two Missiles

India conducted two missile tests last month, with the super­sonic Brahmos cruise missile recording a success but the Agni-2 ballistic missile test aborted. The tests were on May 2 and 4, respectively.

The Brahmos, jointly developed by India and Russia, has several variants. The May 2 test was a land-attack version with a range of 450 kilometers, which is longer than the 290-kilometer range of the original system. The missile was launched from a mobile launcher and tested in steep-dive mode. Indian officials said the test was a success and noted that the missile hit its target with the desired precision. The nuclear-capable Agni-2 is a two-stage, solid-fueled system. It is capable of delivering a 1,000 kilogram payload over a range of 2,000 kilometers. An Indian official was quoted in The Times of India as saying “things went awry” during the May 4 test after half a kilometer and was aborted. The Agni-2 is deployed, but has not been tested for several years.—DANIELLE PRESKITT

Posted: May 31, 2017

Japan Considers Cruise Missile Purchase

Japan Considers Cruise Missile Purchase

Japan is considering whether to buy cruise missiles due to the increasing threat posed by North Korea’s ballistic missile development, according to officials quoted in The Japan Times on May 6. The government may include funds in the fiscal year 2018 budget for studying the feasibility of purchasing U.S. Tomahawk cruise missiles, according to the report. The missiles would likely be deployed on Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force Fleet.

North Korea’s ballistic missiles are capable of reaching Japan, and several North Korean ballistic missiles have splashed down in Japan’s territorial waters during tests. Although the purchase of Tomahawks may be viewed as contrary to Tokyo’s defensive military posture, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in January that striking North Korean launch sites would be self-defense. Japan would need to revise its five-year plan for a defensive buildup and its 10-year defense program guidelines, both set in 2013, before any purchase. The United States uses Tomahawk cruise missiles for conventional strikes, but has deployed several Tomahawk variants armed with nuclear warheads.—KELSEY DAVENPORT

Posted: May 31, 2017

New Leadership, Opportunities on the Korean Peninsula

The election of Mr. Moon Jae-in as South Korea’s next president could lead to an important and helpful shift in the international community’s approach to halting and reversing North Korea’s increasingly dangerous nuclear and missile programs. If Moon stays true to the policies outlined in his campaign , South Korea’s approach to North Korea will likely shift from “pressure only” to “pressure with pragmatic engagement.” This could improve the chances for lowering of tensions with North Korea and the resumption of talks designed to verifiably halt and then, later, reverse North Korea’s nuclear...

Senators Fight Cruise Missile Funding

Nine Democratic senators are seeking to limit development funding for a nuclear-armed, air-launched cruise missile known as the long-range standoff (LRSO) weapon.

April 2017

Nine Democratic senators, led by Edward Markey (Mass.), are seeking to limit development funding for a nuclear-armed, air-launched cruise missile known as the long-range standoff (LRSO) weapon that the Air Force is planning to field by 2030. The missile and its refurbished warhead reportedly will cost $20-30 billion over 20 years to produce, Markey said in a March 8 news release. “Congress shouldn’t fund dangerous new nuclear weapons designed to fight unwinnable nuclear wars,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a co-sponsor of the legislation that would cap funding for the missile and its warhead at 2017 levels until the Trump administration submits a Nuclear Posture Review report to Congress. Air Force plans call for the procurement of about 1,000 of these missiles to replace the AGM-86B cruise missiles, which have been in use since 1986. Critics say the new weapon is not needed and its ability to carry nuclear or conventional warheads could lead to a cataclysmic error if an adversary mistakes the launch of conventional missiles for nuclear ones. “The new nuclear cruise missile is expensive, redundant, and above all, dangerous,’” warned Tom Collina, director of policy at the Ploughshares Fund on March 8.

Posted: March 31, 2017

India, Pakistan Escalate Missile Rivalry

Missile advances may destabilize an already dangerous region.

March 2017

By Kelsey Davenport

India and Pakistan are pursuing the development of new nuclear-capable missiles that risk further escalating tensions in South Asia and increasing the chance of a nuclear exchange.

Pakistani protesters shout anti-Indian slogans during a demonstration in Peshawar on October 4, 2016, after Indian and Pakistani troops exchanged fire across their border. (Photo credit: A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images)In the past several months, both countries have tested and refined systems for deployment. Although their nuclear ambitions and advancing capabilities should not be considered in isolation or solely as bilateral, there is an action-reaction dynamic between the two states that drives their advances. China is also a factor, particularly in India’s military planning, as New Delhi pursues longer-range ballistic missiles that are more relevant to deterring Beijing than Islamabad. 

This creates a complex nuclear geometry in Asia, in which developments intended to provide stability often have the opposite effect. Indeed, some of the recent developments raise serious concerns about control of nuclear missiles in the field and an increased risk of an unauthorized nuclear attack. 

Sea-Based Capabilities 

Pakistan’s Jan. 9 test-firing of a sea-launched cruise missile, the first for that missile, is one of Islamabad’s responses to India’s sea-based nuclear deterrent and advancing ballistic missile defense system. The missile was tested from an undisclosed location in the Indian Ocean and hit its target with “precise accuracy,” according to a statement from the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media arm of the Pakistani military.

The nuclear-capable missile, known as the Babur-3, has an estimated range of 450 kilometers. It is a variant of the ground-launched Babur-2 cruise missile, which has an estimated range of 700 kilometers and was last tested in December 2016. The Babur-3 gives Islamabad “a credible second strike capability, augmenting deterrence,” the military statement said. 

That judgment might be premature, given that the Babur-3 was tested from an underwater mobile platform and is not likely ready for deployment on Pakistan’s diesel submarines. But Pakistan’s decision to pursue a sea-based deterrent is not a surprise. Evidence, such as Pakistan’s decision to stand up a Naval Strategic Force Command in 2012, pointed toward its pursuit of a sea-based deterrent. 

India was not cited by name as the reason for pursuing a sea-based deterrent, but the Pakistani military statement alluded to Indian developments as a motivation, saying that the missile is a “measured response to nuclear strategies and postures being adopted in Pakistan’s neighborhood.” The reference likely included India’s recent deployment of a nuclear-capable, submarine-launched ballistic missile to ensure the survivability of its deterrent and complete New Delhi’s nuclear triad. 

India’s first ballistic missile submarine, the Arihant, completed sea trials in 2016 and is widely believed to have been inducted into the Indian navy. The Arihant-class submarines can carry India’s nuclear-capable K-4 or K-15 ballistic missiles. 

In the days following the Babur-3 test, India announced it would test-fire a K-4 ballistic missile, but there has been no subsequent announcement of a test taking place. The K-4 is an intermediate-range ballistic missile assessed to have a range of approximately 3,500 kilometers, as opposed to the K-15, which has a range of approximately 750 kilometers. The K-15 reportedly was tested twice in March 2016 and is now in production. 

The decisions by India and Pakistan to pursue sea-based nuclear weapons systems, although presented in terms of strengthening deterrence, raises concerns about the actual impact on stability in the region. 

Both countries currently are believed to keep warheads separated from missiles. Sea-based deterrents, however, require mating the warheads and missiles prior to deployment. If India and Pakistan view their submarine forces as the survivable leg of the nuclear deterrence forces, waiting to deploy a submarine until a crisis scenario is not an attractive option.

This raises questions about the management of the nuclear warheads at sea and the reliability of the communications systems. If submarine commanders have the ability to fire nuclear-armed missiles, it could increase the chances of an unauthorized or accidental launch. 

New Land-Based Capabilities

The concern about delegating command-and-control authority also applies in the case of some ground-based systems, such as Pakistan’s short-range tactical ballistic missile, the Nasr. The Nasr has a range of approximately 60 kilometers, and the ISPR has described the system as filling a gap to “deter evolving threats,” which includes India’s conventional military superiority. 

To use the Nasr as a deterrent against conventional attacks, it may be necessary in certain situations to transfer command and control of these tactical nuclear weapons to commanders on the ground. Some experts view the development of the Nasr, with possible pre-delegation of authority, as potentially destabilizing and increasing the likelihood of use against a conventional attack by India. 

Pakistan also tested a second new system in January, a medium-range ballistic missile equipped with multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs). The ISPR said that the Jan. 24 test was a success and that the missile, called the Ababeel, has an estimated range of about 2,000 kilometers, “the capability to engage multiple targets with high precision,” and the ability to evade radar. The missile will ensure the “survivability of Pakistan’s ballistic missile defense environment.”

Pakistan conducts its first successful test firing of the nuclear-capable Babur-3 cruise missile January 9 from an undisclosed location in the Indian Ocean. The missile, intended for submarine deployment, was fired from an underwater, mobile platform. (Photo credit: Pakistan Inter Services Public Relations)

Pakistan’s development of the Babur-3 and MIRV capability on the Ababeel comes as India makes advances with its ballistic missile defense system. The Indian Ministry of Defence announced Feb. 12 that it “successfully conducted a test wherein an incoming ballistic missile target was intercepted by an exo-atmospheric interceptor missile off the Bay of Bengal.” The statement described this as an “important milestone in building its overall capability” to defend against incoming ballistic missile threats. 

MIRV-capable and cruise missiles, however, can make it more difficult for missile defenses to intercept incoming warheads. The Babur-3 “features terrain hugging and sea skimming flight capabilities to evade hostile radars” and air defenses, the ISPR said in its statement.

India’s Missile Developments

While Pakistan is orienting its new delivery systems based on developments in India, India is considering China as it deploys new ballistic missiles. 

India’s pursuit of long-range ballistic missiles further destabilizes the region’s complicated strategic geometry. These missiles, primarily the Agni-4 and Agni-5, are clearly directed toward China. 

For example, the Agni-5, with a range of more than 5,000 kilometers, is not necessary for targeting Pakistan. But it does put all major Chinese cities within India’s range. India tested the Agni-5 in December 2016 and the Agni-4 on Jan. 2. (See ACT, January/February 2017.) The Agni-4 is an intermediate-range ballistic missile that has an estimated range of 4,000 kilometers. (See ACT, January/February 2012.

China often does not respond to Indian ballistic missile tests, but the most recent Agni-5 launch drew a quick, negative response from the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman the next day. Hua Chunying recalled a UN Security Council Resolution in 1998 that urged India and Pakistan not to pursue nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, after both countries tested nuclear devices, and said China takes the position that “preserving the strategic balance and stability in South Asia is conducive to peace and prosperity of regional countries.”

During the Chinese New Year, Beijing posted a video of its new medium-range ballistic missile, the DF-16. This system, first displayed in September 2015, is assessed by the Pentagon in an annual report on China’s military in 2016 as improving China’s ability to strike at “regional targets.”

Although it is doubtful that China’s decision to display the missile again is directed at India alone, it does highlight China’s regional nuclear capabilities that likely concern India.

Posted: March 1, 2017

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Posted: November 21, 2016

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