Tong Zhao, "Conventional Counterforce Strike: An Option for Damage Limitation in Conflicts with Nuclear-Armed Adversaries?," Science & Global Security 19, no. 3 (2011): 195-222, doi: 10.1080/08929882.2011.616146.
China and some other nuclear-armed countries have become concerned about the development and deployment of U.S. conventional global strike systems that may permit damage limitation operations against the nuclear forces of adversaries. This article argues that a counterforce strike is more likely to target tactical nuclear forces than intercontinental ballistic missiles and provides an analysis of the probability that U.S. conventional strikes might destroy China's theater nuclear forces which include DF-3A, DF-4, DF-21, DF-31 missiles, Type 094 nuclear submarines, and nuclear-capable H-6 bombers. The results indicate that China's strategy of building robust underground facilities may effectively protect its nuclear forces from preemptive strikes making it unlikely that a U.S. conventional strike could destroy a meaningful part of China's theater nuclear forces. This study also assesses the potential capabilities of future conventional prompt global strike systems, points out problems with the strategy of damage limitation, and proposes that the United States consider improving strategic stability in its relationship with China rather than threatening a preemptive strike.
Article access: Taylor & Francis Online
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