Declassified: The Soviet Union Considered Using Nuclear Weapons against China during 1969 Border Clashes

A declassified Department of State report dated September 4, 1969 detailed statements made by a Soviet military officer to a U.S. Army Attache concerning plans for the possible use of nuclear weapons against China during a series of 1969 border clashes. In the event that China attacked Russia with “major forces,” the Russians would allow Chinese forces to advance into Russian territory and then use tactical nuclear weapons against them. Although the Soviet officer claimed that tactical nuclear weapons would only be used within Russian territory, additional reports about Soviet mobilization of nuclear armed missile units nearby Russian-Chinese border clash areas most likely contributed to China’s first and only known high-level nuclear alert status one month later.

Department of State

Posted in China, declassified, Mao era, Nuclear | Tagged , , , ,

China’s Top Secret Mao-era Plutonium Production Facility Identified

In 1967 China started the construction of a top secret, underground plutonium production complex in a cave underneath a mountain near Fuling in Sichuan province. The complex, known as Plant 816, was never finished; China declassified the project in 2002, and in 2010 part of the site was opened to tourism.[1]   Geospatial analysis reveals that one entrance of the Fuling facility is located at 29.55N 107.50E (see graphics below).

[1] Hui Zhang. “China’s HEU and Plutonium Production and Stocks,” Science and Global Security. 2011, Volume 19.P. 77.

Posted in China, declassified imagery, Geospatial, Mao era, Nuclear, Third Line | Tagged , , , , , , ,

AllSource Analysis: Featured Analysis of the Week

This week, AllSource Analysis featured my report on Japan’s demilitarization of abandoned chemical weapons in Ha’erbaling, China. For more of this analysis, see the new Intelligence Channels service at AllSource.

AllSource Preview – Japan’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons in China

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted in China, Geospatial, Weapons of mass destruction | Tagged , , ,

Foreign Correspondent’s Club Talk, Hong Kong 2014

I’ll be giving a talk at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club in Hong Kong about my research on the history of China’s nuclear weapons program.  Here is a PDF overview of the talk for participants; I look forward to meeting you!

People’s Nuclear Weapon, FCC HK, May 2014

Posted in China, Mao era, Nuclear, People's War, strategic culture, Third Line, Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

New England Political Science Association Conference, 2014

I just attended the New England Political Science Association (NEPSA) conference held in Woodstock, Vermont at the Woodstock Inn.


I presented a paper titled “The People’s Nuclear Weapon: Strategic Culture and China’s Nuclear Weapons Program during the Mao Era (1949 – 1975),” and received excellent feedback from our discussant Chris Dolan of Lebanon Valley College.  I also served as chair and discussant of another panel for the first time (Public Policy in Comparative Perspective).  Overall NEPSA successfully facilitated a supportive and collegial environment for participants; see the event program below for more detail.


Posted in China, conference, Mao era, Nuclear, People's War, strategic culture | Tagged , , , , ,

University of Macau Public Lecture, 23 April 2014

Today I delivered a public lecture at the University of Macau (UM), sponsored by UM’s Department of Government and the Youth Association of International Affairs.  The lecture was titled “The People’s Nuclear Weapon: Strategic Culture and China’s Nuclear Deterrent, 1949-1975.”   There was great feedback from the students (mostly graduate students in the International Relations Master Degree program), with questions ranging from research methodology to China’s capital investment capability during the Mao era.  Further, there was general agreement with the thesis that China’s Mao-era strategic culture, best defined in terms of “People’s War” ideas, limited the development of China’s nuclear weapons program.

Attached here is a reduced PDF version of the presentation.  Next stop: Woodstock, VT for the New England Political Science Association 2014 Conference!

Posted in China, Mao era, Nuclear, People's War, strategic culture, Third Line | Tagged , , , , ,