Wu Sino US Inadvertent Escalation - Program on Strategic Stability ...


Wu Sino US Inadvertent Escalation - Program on Strategic Stability ...

and several small VLF stations along the coast.


Since China’s Type 094 has yet to enter service, we do not know whether or not

Chinese SSBNs have permissive action link (PAL)-like launch control mechanisms. 37

According to Peter Feaver, nuclear command and control systems need to balance two

risks: the potential for unwanted use, and the potential for decapitation.


In U.S.

experience, PALs were not incorporated into the nuclear weapons carried by SSBNs

until 1990s.


Given China’s weak capabilities to maintain communications to

submarines, it is likely that PALs will not be incorporated into the nuclear weapons on

Chinese SSBNs. If so, under the condition of communication with national command

authority interrupted, the captain of the SSBN would have full control of the nuclear

weapons on board.

Distant blockade.


Offshore Control strategy.


war-at-sea strategy (sea denial

within the first island chain and distant blockade)


Maritime interception operations,

interdiction operations.

Sea denial scenario has higher intensity than distant blockade. China’s ASBM

would expel U.S. aircraft carrier out of its range. U.S. anti-submarine warfare (ASW)

operations against China’s submarines. Attack China’s VLF transmitters.

Compared to sea denial scenario, sea control scenario requires the United States

to neutralize the ASBM threat, and sink Chinese submarines as soon as possible.

There would be inadvertent escalatory risk in both sea denial and sea control

scenarios. China SSBN/SSN

If all Chinese VLF transmitters, including the two inland ones, are destroyed,

there is a possibility in both sea denial and sea control scenarios that Chinese SSBNs,

without communications with the national command authority, launch their SLBMs.

3.3 Integrated major war

Integrated major war represents the highest level of ong>Sinoong>-U.S. conventional war,

! 36

! 37 Donald R. Cotter, “Peacetime Operations: Safety and Security,” in Ashton B. Carter, John D. Steinbruner, and

Charles A. Zraket eds., Managing Nuclear Operations (Washington D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1987), pp.


! 38 Peter D. Feaver, “Command and Control in Emerging Nuclear Nations,” International Security, Vol. 17, No. 3

(Winter, 1992-1993), pp. 160-187.

! 39 G. E. Miller, "Who Needs PALs?" Proceedings of the U.S. Naval Institute, July 1988, pp. 50-56. Nathan

Edward Busch, “Assessing the Optimism-Pessimism Debate: Nuclear Proliferation, Nuclear Risks, and Theories

of State Action,” Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Toronto, 2001, pp. 47-48.

! 40 Sean Mirski, “Stranglehold: The Context, Conduct and Consequences of an American Naval Blockade of

China,” Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 36, No. 3 (2013), pp. 385–421.

Evan Braden Montgomery, “Reconsidering a Naval Blockade of China: A Response to Mirski,” Journal of

Strategic Studies, Vol. 36, No. 4 (2013), pp.

! 41 T.X. Hammes, “Offshore Control: A Proposed Strategy for an Unlikely Conflict,” Strategic Forum, No. 278,

June 2012.

! Jeffrey E. Kline and Wayne P. Hughes Jr., “Between Peace and the Air-Sea Battle: A War at Sea Strategy,”


Naval War College Review, Vol. 65, No. 4 (Autumn 2012), pp. 35-40.

! 11

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