August 23, 2012 13:09
China last month test-launched a new intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach targets in the U.S., unconfirmed reports say. Worries are mounting in the U.S. as the missile, apparently called Dongfeng-41, would be difficult to intercept.
The missile, believed to have been in development since the 1990s, is described as a "multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle with a collection of 10 separate warheads."
China's state-run Global Times quoted the latest edition of defense weekly IHS Jane's on Wednesday as reporting that the 2nd Artillery Corps, China's strategic nuclear missile force, test-launched the missile last month. The military unit fired the missile in the direction of the western desert thousands of miles west of the Wuzhai Missile Test Center in the central Chinese province of Shanxi on July 24, the daily added.
In China, images of a truck carrying a large missile presumed to be the DF-41 have been posted on the Internet several times since 2007. An unnamed U.S. official said at the time that the missile was the DF-41, and this was the first time the U.S. government confirmed the existence of the DF-41 project, according to IHS Jane's.
But Chinese expert Wei Guoan said, "The missile that was test-launched wasn't the DF-41. But it's true that the Second Artillery Corps is developing a next-generation ICBM with the exact specifications that Western media are talking about."
He added, "Research is underway with the purpose of developing the next-generation ICBM that can hit targets anywhere in the world."
The DF-41 is said to have a range of 10,000-14,000 km, which would cover the entire U.S. The DF-31, its immediate predecessor, had a range of 7,200-8,000 km, which would only allow it to reach part of the western U.S.
China reportedly has more than 70 ICBMs and 410 nuclear warheads.
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