Monday, 31 December, 2007

Multiple Warhead Delivery.

U.S. technology also has been critical to enabling China to develop MIRVs. To increase their effectiveness against a larger number of targets, most modern ICBMs are equipped with these MIRV warheads. MIRV delivery requires an advanced warhead "bus" that is able to point and release warheads with precision. Although it does not appear that any stolen or purchased U.S. technology has helped China to develop such a warhead bus, commercial interaction with a U.S. satellite maker did provide China the impetus to build a Smart Dispenser that allows a single space launch vehicle to place multiple satellites in orbit. The technology required for the satellite Smart Dispenser is virtually identical to that needed for a MIRV bus. To date, Motorola has launched 12 of its Iridium communication satellites from China's Long March LM-2C/SD rockets that use the Smart Dispenser bus. According to the Chinese engineer mentioned earlier, the Smart Dispenser project was moribund until it was revived by commercial funding from U.S. firms. The Report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence concludes that commercial interaction with a U.S. company had a "pulling effect" on China's satellite Smart Dispenser program.

Because of its progress in building small, accurate nuclear warheads and its development of a satellite Smart Dispenser that can be converted to a MIRV bus, China now has the option to retrofit its existing 8,000-mile-range DF-5 ICBMs to carry multiple warheads. In fact, the Long March LM-2C/SD used to launch the communication satellites is only a slightly modified DF-5 ICBM. Outfitting China's estimated 26 DF-5s with an 8-warhead MIRV bus would increase the number of nuclear weapons carried by the DF-5s from 26 to 208.

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