State Media Boasts of China’s Ability to Nuke US Cities


A number of state run Chinese newspapers ran an article last week boasting of China’s ability to launch nuclear attacks against the United States, according to multiple media outlets in the Western world and Taiwan.

As The Diplomat reported last week, China’s state-run media outlets last week ran a number of articles giving an unprecedented amount of information about the soon-to-be-retired Type 092 Xia-Class ballistic missile nuclear submarine (SSBN).

According to reports in The Washington TimesWantChinaTimes and UK Daily Mail, separate Chinese-language articles in publications like the Global Times described in detail China’s plans to use China’s new Type 094 SSBNs to attack major U.S. cities in the event of a nuclear exchange. According to WantChinaTimes, the article bragged that Type 094 Jin-class SSBNs carrying the new JL-2 ballistic missiles could reach the western United States without leaving the Second Island Chain.

“Because the Midwest states of the U.S. are sparsely populated, in order to increase the lethality, [our] nuclear attacks should mainly target the key cities on the West Coast of the United States, such as Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego,” the Global Times reported, according to the Washington Times and Daily Mail.

“The 12 JL-2 nuclear warheads carried by one single Type 094 SSBN can kill and wound 5 million to 12 million Americans,” the Global Times reportedly added.

The Diplomat could not verify the accuracy of the reports, although the language would be a significant escalation of rhetoric on the part of China’s state media. The WantChinaTimes report suggests some of the language being attributed to the Global Times in the other articles was actually that of Chinese military analysts, rather than the publication itself.   

Other parts of some of the reports appeared suspect. For example, the Daily Mail article reports that, “JL-2 missiles have a range of about 8,700 miles and could hit almost the entire continental U.S. with independently targetable re-entry  vehicle (MIRV) warheads.”

However, in their just updated annual overview of China’s nuclear forces in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris report that the JL-2, which is nearing initial operational capability, is only capable of carrying one nuclear warhead. Kristensen and Norris also put the JL-2’s range at 7,000-plus km, while noting that the missile has never been flight tested at that range. If the range is 7,000-plus km, it is not capable of hitting the continental United States unless it is far from China’s waters, Kristensen and Norris note.

It’s possible the Daily Mail report is referring to China’s DF-31A land-based ballistic missile. Immediately prior to the sentence quoted above, the Daily Mail quoted the Global Times as saying:

“If we launch our DF 31A ICBMs over the North Pole, we can easily destroy a whole list of metropolises on the East Coast and the New England region of the U.S., including Annapolis, Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Portland, Baltimore and Norfolk, whose population accounts for about one-eighth of America’s total residents.”

The Washington Times picked up the same quote from the Global Times.

The DF-31A is a solid fueled, three-stage, road-mobile ICBM with a range of about 11,000-plus km (7,000-plus miles). It is an extended version of the DF-31, which the JL-2 is reportedly based off of. It is capable of hitting the entire the United States if launched from the outer bounds of China, which it is currently not, according to Kristensen and Morris. The authors estimate that China has about 20 DF-31As, which is significantly less than the 75-100 missiles the U.S. Department of Defense once estimated China would field by 2015.

Although Kristensen and Morris claim the DF-31A only has a single warhead capability, other reports have said that China has tested MIRVed versions of the DF-31A.

Despite these lingering differences, all sources are in agreement that China’s strategic forces are improving, although how fast and in which ways is a matter of some dispute. Kristensen and Morris note that “China is the only one of the five original nuclear weapon states that is quantitatively increasing its nuclear arsenal,” but caution that the “pace of growth is slow.”

The authors seem more impressed by the qualitative improvements to China’s nuclear forces. “The capability of the arsenal is also increasing, with liquid-fuel and relatively inaccurate maneuverable missiles being replaced by solid-fuel and more accurate road-mobile missiles,” the authors write.

Kristensen and Morris also believe that China’s ability to threaten the U.S. with nuclear weapons is rising as long-range ballistic missiles are comprising an ever-larger percentage of China’s nuclear arsenal.

It bears noting that China has a no-first use pledge when it comes to nuclear weapons, and thus its nuclear doctrine pledges to only use nuclear weapons in response to it being first attacked by nuclear weapons. 

March 29, 2014 at 22:37

us should just nuke eastern china . this will bring back jobs too.

Monkey eat it
January 19, 2014 at 13:24

Y no one indicate that the missile shield will be destroy first in any battle. First nuke test in China 50 yrs ago now only 50 nuke what happen to the materials, the monkey eat it.

December 3, 2013 at 07:22

you call these rumors journalism? With all the US bases built around China and across middle east. It is no wonder China would be preparing for war.

9 dashes,,4 dishes - 1 soup
November 10, 2013 at 21:35

Thank you. Your analysis is correct. That’s rare around here.

Robert Carl Cohen
November 7, 2013 at 13:39

I'd hoped fhat the Comments on this rather questionably-sourced story would be informative regarding China and its policies.  


November 7, 2013 at 09:47

Japan should do what it needs to do to advance collective security. That give Japan the omestic legal cover necessary to shoot down any ICBMs passing over its airspace (or even if it doesn't as long as the ICBM is targetting a treaty/ally country.

November 7, 2013 at 08:57

Dear china, 


Come and take back the 600 thousands square kilometers of land that we took from you several hundreds years ago if you dare. Stop talking so much and do something about it. Talk is cheap. Put up or shut up, do you understand that?




Big Bad Bear Russian Military Forces (the same ones that shot your fishermen last year and mulitiple times before that).

November 7, 2013 at 07:10

"It bears noting that China has a no-first use pledge when it comes to nuclear weapons, and thus its nuclear doctrine pledges to only use nuclear weapons in response to it being first attacked by nuclear weapons."


It is very wise for China to make such a pledge. It is cheap PR. It deters with less provoking effect.

I will vote to impeach any US high ranking politician who acts in accordance to this Chinese pledge.

No one can afford to really believe this Chinese pledge, or similar American or Russian pledge if it comes into existence.

Such pledge is always good to make; Americans should make it for the PR impact because we have enough conventional weapons.


Carson Tavenner
November 7, 2013 at 06:15

The news here is not that of nuclear forces, but of the appearance in Chinese public media of nuclear targeting doctrine on the part of (presumably) military officials.  Yes, both sides do largely the same sort of nuclear targeting on one another, and all US officials are aware of the real growth in Chinese nuclear capabilities. However, the DoD does not make a point of publically talking about its capacity to kill millions of Chinese.  Instead, it talks about its desire to enter into a real dialogue which has so far been denied by CCP authorities.  We have seen this kind of blustering about Chinese nuclear capabilities toward the USA before.  Such bluster never helps the generation of real solutions for real problems.  It only serves to aggravate and complicate the hard, long-term work of bringing about real communication between the People's Liberation Army and the rest of the world (including its own people).

November 6, 2013 at 22:43

Oh yeah! and we should trust china, right?  Sigh!

The Truth
November 6, 2013 at 21:32

It is onlt the naive to think and assume, that the USA is not targeting China or Russia.

In the world of Nukes, everybody targets everybody. China is currently under-represented in the quantity of nuke icbm. Russia, despite having a relatively small conventional force has a nuke icbm force matching the USA and that is the reason, it gets respect. China, sad to say, its planner has erred on the quantity of nuke icbm. You don't get respect with just a couple of hundreds icbm and they will come to regret not building up their icbm quantity. MAD demands that you have as many nukes icbm as your potential adversaries, to stave off potential attacks. MAD is a proven PEACE KEEPER but it demands that you have as many deliverable nukes as others.

Reliable sources
November 6, 2013 at 18:16

There is a rule in military circles that if you want to gauge the size and quality of China’s nuclear arsenal, Hans Kristensen is the last person you talk to.

Mr Kristensen is blinded by ideological bias therefore he is not a very credible source regarding anything China related.

November 6, 2013 at 15:32

"Come and get it if you dare."

Don't worry, chinese subs are not in gulf of Mexico, there is no threat from China.

Russian attack sub detected near East Coast​


November 6, 2013 at 15:02

Everybody seems to pick up whobody picked up Chinaut nere China can strike in USA, but nobody picked up China's 2nd strike nuke policy. Unlike US, China insist it will never use nuke unless same were used on China.

Twisted Sisters
November 6, 2013 at 13:07

"We're not gonna take it!, no we ain't gonna take it!!! WE'RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE!"

November 6, 2013 at 01:21

Dear china,


Come and get it if you dare. Please don't pull a china (all talk and no action) on us again. It is getting old and tiresome.




US military forces (the best in the world, even china and chinese would have to say so)

November 5, 2013 at 23:57

U.S. has missile defense bases in west coast, what's there to worry about? It's China that is defenceless against U.S. nuclear attack.

Sad Warrior
November 5, 2013 at 23:00

This is definitive authentication that Communist China views the United States as its primary enemy. Anyone believing that Communist China's' first use doctrine' is truthful is either a fool or inexcusably naive. When they are confident of success they will either bully the U.S. into submission or carry out a strike. The appeasement of this current U.S. administration invites such aggression by its cowardly and weak stance with Communist China.  The attack began economically and now has enterd the military developmental phase. It is startling that the Americans are unaware of such facts. Free, unbiased press? Right. The U.S. has been forewarned. Communist China has targeted you.

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