The Spectacle Blog

China’s Nukes

By on 3.5.07 | 11:01AM

Just when you thought the fear of a nuclear Iran, North Korea, or Islamist coup in already nuclear Pakistan was enough to worry about, Mark Helprin elaborates on the threat from a nuclear China.

He writes:

In the next five years, as we reduce our arsenal from 10,000 strategic warheads to 1,700, China/>/>'s MIRV'd silo-based missiles and imminent generations of MIRV'd mobile and sea-based ICBMs will easily allow a breakout from warhead numbers now variously estimated to range from 80 to 1,800...

They know that every facet of America/>/>'s economy, military and society depends on individual and networked electronic devices. Were these to fail all at once and irreparably, the nation would seize up, perhaps for years.

 Faced with victory, or with loss, they might choose to -- and who would venture to guarantee that they would not? -- detonate half a dozen high-megatonnage nuclear charges in the mesosphere, in an electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) strike perhaps not even in American airspace, cooking almost every circuit and semiconductor, rendering the American government blind, deaf and dumber than it is already and the country unable to resist the inroads that would surely follow.

Helprin's strategy for countering the threat is based on creating redundancies in our electronic systems and building up our missile defense. I would have liked to have seen him explore how an increasingly hawkish Japan may figure into any strategy.

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