China's military has the "most active and diverse ballistic missile program," in the world, with a growing nuclear warhead-inventory that can reach the United States, a Pentagon intelligence report has found.
Included in the weaponry is a new JL-2 ballistic missile that can be launched from submarines - specifically allowing Chinese subs to target areas of the US from operations positioned near the Chinese coast, according to the latest assessment from the National Air and Space Intelligence Centre (NASIC).
The missile programs in the east-Asian country are swelling as the Pentagon endeavors to make a policy that places more focus on America's forces in the Asia-Pacific region. According to the assessment, some of China's arsenal is designed to stop enemy forces from accessing regional conflicts.
The latest report, known as Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat Assessment, is an update from the previous report, which was carried out in 2009. The update has found China to be "developing and testing offensive missiles, forming additional missile units, qualitatively upgrading missile systems and developing methods to counter ballistic missile defences."
China is a Major Threat According to Pentagon Report
Even with a fairly small collection of nuclear warheads and intercontinental ballistic missiles, the country can already target the US. Over the coming 15 years, these weapons could expand to more than 100.
The conclusions regarding China are just one part of a report that examines global developments in trends and ballistic-missile technology, including in Pakistan, India, Iran and North Korea.
For Iran the report concurs with the intelligence community's assessment that the Middle-Eastern country could develop and test an intercontinental ballistic missile that is capable of reaching the United States by 2015 - within two years.
According to the report, Iran has ambitious space-launch and ballistic development programs and aims to increase the accuracy, lethality and range of it's missile force.
North Korea meanwhile, possesses a large short-range missile inventory and is working on an intermediate-range weapon, the report found.
Situated at Ohio's Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the NASIC is the Pentagon's leading aerospace intelligence provider.