College Students Map China's Nuclear Tunnels

Report causes stir in arms control community
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 30, 2011 3:26 PM CST
College Students Map China's Nuclear Tunnels
Visitors walk past China's first nuclear missile (C) on display at the Military Museum in Beijing, 23 July 2007.   (Getty Images)

The US is about to get its most complete look yet at China’s massive network of secret nuclear tunnels, compiled by people who don’t even have bachelor’s degrees. When China dispatched nuclear experts after a 2008 earthquake, a Pentagon agency asked volunteer Phillip Karber, a former top strategist during the Cold War, to find out why. So Karber decided to recruit a research team from the undergraduate classes he was teaching at Georgetown, the Washington Post reports.

In 2009, China revealed an answer the team already suspected: It has 3,000 miles of tunnels—a so-called “underground Great Wall”—through which it moves its nuclear arsenal. But the team kept working, analyzing all the publicly available data they could find—satellite imagery, military documents, blog posts, and even Chinese TV dramas. Their controversial conclusion: China may have up to 3,000 nuclear weapons, far more than previously believed. The report still hasn’t been released, but it’s already being circulated at the Pentagon and has sparked a congressional hearing and fierce criticism. One China nuclear analyst, for instance, had denounced Karber's study as “incompetent and lazy.” (Read more China stories.)

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