China could smuggle nuclear missiles hidden in shipping containers to Venezuela in surprise attack on US, experts warn
CHINA could smuggle nuclear missiles in shipping containers at South American ports for a surprise attack on the United States, experts have warned.
Military analysts have sounded the alarm on the container capacity which has been quietly developed by Beijing.
It has been suggested that China is working on a larger version of the weapon under a state-enacted “dual-use” deal with its space program.
The large rockets used to launch satellites could be easily reused into compact missiles – the size of a container – with nuclear capability.
Rick Fisher, senior researcher in Asian military affairs at the International Center for Assessment and Strategy, told The Sun Online that there is a possibility that China could be smuggling these weapons into South America as a backdoor attack on states. -United.
And meanwhile, Captain James Fanell, former intelligence chief of the US Pacific Fleet, said the space rocket container launcher was obviously intended for military use.
Sam Armstrong, a Chinese expert from the Henry Jackson Society, said these container missiles may be the key to Chinese arms smuggling around the world, including to rogue states like Venezuela.
China has alluded to its large-scale container ship missile weapons.
Private company OneSpace has unveiled a promotional video for its OS-M2 launcher, a 31-ton rocket intended to be launched into space.
It shows the rocket loaded into containers and hidden from view – before being launched from trucks, trains, planes and ships.
The video appears to be more akin to military technology – like the rail launchers deployed by Russia and North Korea – than to space technology.
And if these weapons were deployed in a South American country friendly to China, like Panama or Venezuela, it could trigger a modern Cuban missile crisis.
The scorching Cold War conflict of October 1962 saw the Soviet Union attempt to place missiles in Cuba, pushing the world to the brink of World War III.
Mr. Fisher told The Sun Online: “It is not inconceivable that a possible future OS-M2-based ‘ICBM’ could be hidden in the China-controlled ports of Panama or in the ports of allied Venezuela. China to target all of the United States.
“Or as the OneSpace video clearly shows, their containerized SLV could be deployed on large freighters or deployed by Boeing 747 freighters to countless favorable launch locations.”
China is known to expand its influence in South America, boosting trade and investment with countries in the region.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize that this is just another way to approach asymmetric warfare for China.
Captain James Fannell
Venezuela is also seen as one of the United States’ biggest enemies in South America and is quietly closing in on China – receiving at least £ 45 billion in loans from Beijing.
And it comes as the Communist Party also seeks to expand into Africa as it increases its global influence.
Even if the goal is not conflict, China could use hidden weapons as a form of missile diplomacy – like when Russia transferred weapons to Venezuela.
And they could also be used to stealthily violate arms embargoes – rather than as part of a plan of attack.
While tensions remain high between the United States and China, there is no suggestion that the two face an imminent war and either are considering a first strike.
Mr. Fisher explained that Chinese law requires companies to use their “dual-use” technologies – so it is likely that the People’s Liberation Army is already investigating military versions of the containerized OS-M2.
“Even armed versions of a nuclear warhead instead of a satellite,” added the expert.
He called the OneSpace video “bizarre” and said it only shows how China’s space program is focusing on military technology.
The expert added that these containerized missiles could also be used as anti-space weapons to hit satellites from the sky from low orbit.
Captain Fannell told The Sun Online: “When you see rockets placed in containers on trains, ships and trucks, you can call it ‘dual-use’, but I don’t know what its use is. civil.
“Everyone knows where Cape Canaveral is – it’s a civilian place. “
He added, “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that this is just another way of approaching asymmetric warfare for China.
“It’s more than just ‘dual use’ – it’s clearly an asymmetric military threat.”
The former intelligence officer described the Chinese container missiles as an “offensive” rather than a “defensive” weapon.
And he warned they could be armed with nuclear weapons contained in an armored container to avoid detection.
Beijing could use containerized weapons to wreak havoc – potentially using electromagnetic pulse warheads to shut down power grids.
China is known to aggressively develop its military and is positioning itself against the United States – extending its reach around the world, such as in Africa.
A mock-up of the missiles first appeared at an arms fair in 2016 and since then there has been speculation that they may now be in service with the Chinese armed forces.
U.S. officials believe the weapons deployed in the small containers are an advanced anti-ship missile called the YJ-18C, which is a version of the Russian Club-K weapon.
The missiles fit into a standard shipping container that is 8 feet wide by 8.5 feet high by 20 feet or 40 feet long.
According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the missile has a speed of up to Mach 3, or three times the speed of sound or 2,300 mph.
While they’re not part of the Chinese hypersonic missile league, which can reach speeds of Mach 10, analysts believe they can still pack a punch.
Mr. Armstrong told The Sun Online: “Both Venezuela and Cuba are essential in this regard, as both are subject to broad arms embargoes.
“So what you have here is a situation where countries cannot import the weapons they want – but they have the means and the will to do so.
“Wherever the means or the will is found, there is an opportunity for smuggling. Its highly probable containerized weapons will be heading to South America.
The expert added, however, that he doubted they would be used for offensive purposes – and would be more for camouflage purposes than setting up a strike.
So far, the only record of a missile fired from a container ship is an image of a test carried out by Israel.
“If this capability is confirmed, it will require a whole new control regime for all PRC-flagged commercial vessels bound for US ports,” Fanell said.
And he was warned in a study of Stockton International Law Center that weapons could violate naval laws.
The Stockton Center study concluded that smuggling weapons onto civilian ships could violate international law.
He wrote: “Failure to adhere to the law of armed conflict by surreptitiously incorporating merchant ships into China’s war and war-maintenance efforts endangers civilian sailors and endangers all civilian ships that may operate in China. the zone of hostilities. “
China is seen to directly challenge the West for its status as the world tries to recover from the pandemic.
Beijing is taking steps to establish itself in the Atlantic Ocean with a new series of naval bases on the west coast of Africa.
The country’s first overseas naval base was built years ago in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa and its capacity is steadily increasing.
And for a while, many thought that China was working on establishing a naval base in Tanzania, a country on the east coast of Africa that has a long-standing strong military relationship with Beijing.
Meanwhile, China is also believed to have taken the lead in the next stage in the global arms race by flying a nuclear-capable missile around the world.
Hypersonic missiles are a game-changer because unlike ballistic missiles, which fly through space before returning to steep trajectories, they zoom in on targets at lower altitude.
China – followed closely by Russia – was already considered to have the most powerful hypersonic missile arsenals, dumping billions of dollars, but others were seen as catching up.
But the shocking revelations of their missile test in August sent shockwaves to Western intelligence agencies who fear they have underestimated Beijing.
U.S. Secret Service and military officials were reportedly stunned after China launched a rocket into space carrying a hypersonic glide vehicle that circled the globe before heading towards its target.