Nuclear missiles aimed at US
THE Clinton administration was put on the defensive over its China policy yesterday after conceding that at least 13 Chinese nuclear missiles were aimed at the United States.
Officials admitted that a classified CIA report on China's nuclear arsenal, contents of which were published in the Washington Times, were correct.
According to the intelligence report, 13 CSS-4 missiles with nuclear warheads are targeted permanently at the US. They could reach virtually all of the country apart from southern Flori- da.
News of the CIA report comes a month before the President goes to Beijing for talks on a wide range of issues including human rights, weapons exports and trade. China's nuclear capability is no news to the administration, but public confirmation that American cities are being targeted by Beijing is a sensitive matter.
US officials pointed out that China's arsenal is tiny compared to the more than 6,000 intercontinental warheads possessed by the Pentagon.
Washington has been trying to get China's consent for both sides to halt targeting each other. Beijing has repeatedly refused unless the US renounces its first-use nuclear policy.
Chinese Embassy spokesman Yu Shunning said a pledge to change targets was merely symbolic.
'To re-target a missile takes only a few minutes,' he said.
'That's why we proposed a no-use pledge.'