US politicians have warned they are on course to lose a 'new Cold War' following reports China secretly flew a nuclear-capable missile around the world.
China tested a top-secret weapon that can circle the globe at 21,000mph and descend from space to strike anywhere on Earth in minutes. The missile is designed to travel in low orbit to dodge detection, allowing China to strike virtually anywhere on the planet with little or no warning, a report in Daily Mail states.
·US and Russia have spent decades working on their own hypersonic systems and the two countries have conducted tests on the weapons in recent months. But China's testing of a nuclear-sonic weapon took analysists by surprise and indicated their missile programme is more advanced than previously thought.
Beijing has played down the row, claiming the launch was just a 'routine test' of a new 'space vehicle'. Yet US disarmament ambassador Robert Wood on Monday said they were 'very concerned', adding: "We don't know how we can defend against that type of technology", the report said.
Congressman Mike Gallagher blasted the US government for 'complacency', saying: "This test should serve as a call to action. If we stick to our current course... we will lose the new Cold War."
According to the Daily Mail report, the US military has a number of hypersonic weapons programs across the Navy, Army and Air Force but most are still in development phase and highly top secret. Also, the known programs are all conventional hypersonic weapons that strike from high altitude, rather than orbital bombardment systems that strike from space which the Chinese were revealed to have developed this week.
Russia recently launched a hypersonic missile, the Zircon, from a submarine. But the missile flies below the atmosphere and uses fuel to power itself to hypersonic speeds rather than the Earth's orbit. The Zircon has been identified by Moscow's state-controlled TV as Vladimir Putin's weapon of choice to wipe out coastal American cities in the event of an atomic conflict.
Congressman Mike Gallagher has pointed out that the disturbing aspect is that American technology has contributed to the PLA's hypersonic missile program. So, "We must end joint ventures, investments, and research collaborations that involve areas associated with Chinese. We also need to stop the flow of Wall Street capital into Chinese tech.’’
Global nuclear policy is rapidly changing as a number of Cold War-era treaties - notably New START and the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty - expire, with Washington hoping to renegotiate them to include China.