Recent reports indicate that the Chinese military has successfully tested a new missile design capable of carrying out a nuclear attack anywhere on the globe.
According to sources cited by the Financial Times, the development came as a surprise to U.S. intelligence officials who are now scrambling to respond.
“A routine test of spacecraft”
“We have no idea how they did this,” said one individual said to have been briefed about the military test conducted in August.
Meanwhile, MIT professor Taylor Fravel, who specializes in Chinese nuclear weapons, told Fox News that the device was a hypersonic glide vehicle that can fly at “lower trajectories and can maneuver in flight, which makes them hard to track and destroy.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian downplayed the test’s military implications, however, claiming it was merely part of the nation’s space program.
“This was a routine test of spacecraft to verify technology of spacecraft’s reusability,” he reportedly said during a press conference on Monday.
The Chinese official went on to assert that the device is “of great significance to reducing the cost of using spacecraft and providing a convenient and cheap way for mankind’s two-way transportation in the peaceful use of space.”
“Something that we have been concerned about”
Zhao further asserted that there was nothing ominous about the missile’s development, indicating that multiple firms in various other nations “have conducted similar tests.”
Ambassador Robert Wood, who represents the U.S. at the Conference of Disarmament in Geneva, Switzerland, is among the American officials who are not convinced by China’s rhetoric.
“Hypersonic technology is something that we have been concerned about,” he said. “We just don’t know how we can defend against that technology, neither does China, neither does Russia.”
Both China and Russia have been “pursuing very actively the use, the militarization of this technology, so we are just having to respond in kind,” Wood explained.
Of course, this development is just the latest evidence of growing tensions between the U.S. and China in recent months. In August, for example, Fox News reported that a Chinese government-owned website warned Taiwanese citizens that America would abandon that nation just as it did Afghanistan.