Entities in Russia and mainland China have emerged as the main suppliers of equipment and technology to “states of concern” trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction and missiles to deliver them, a Pentagon report released Wednesday said.
Titled “Proliferation: Threat and Response,” the report said about a dozen countries are actively pursuing offensive biological and chemical weapons, aided by greater availability of components, technologies, expertise and information.
“Entities in Russia and China are the main suppliers of NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical) and missile related equipment and technologies, especially to states of proliferation concern,” the report said.
Russian entities have exported ballistic missiles and nuclear technology to Iran, and it remains a potential source of biological and chemical warfare expertise, the report said.
Mainland Chinese firms have provided such items in recent years to Iran, Libya and North Korea, it said.
Although it cited some improvements in Chinese behavior, the report said that mainland China “remains one of the world’s key sources for missile related technologies.”
“Although China has ratified several key nonproliferation treaties and regimes and made numerous nonproliferation pledges, it will likely continue to take advantage of those ambiguities in those commitments to advance its strategic and economic interests,” it said.
Mainland China pledged in November 2000 not to assist countries in developing missiles with ranges that exceed the limits established under the Missile Technology and Control Regime.
But the report said: “The United States continues to have concerns about possible Chinese nuclear assistance to Pakistan, Chinese behavior, in this regard, is likely to be driven by strategic interests in South Asia and the Middle East, as well as by domestic economic pressures.”
“Foreign assistance, particularly from Russia, China and North Korea, continues to have demonstrable effects on missile advances around the world,” it said.
“Moreover, some countries that have traditionally been recipients of foreign missile technology are becoming suppliers and are pursuing cooperative missile ventures,” it said.
At the same time, mainland China and Russia have continued to modernize their own arsenals, it said.
It noted that Russia is reported to have developed a new generation of chemical warfare weapons known as “Novichoks” that are designed to defeat Western detection and protection measures.
“There is additional concern that the technology to produce these compounds might be acquired by other countries, amplifying the threat,” it said.
On the nuclear front, it said Beijing is qualitatively improving its nuclear arsenal, testing a road-mobile DF-31 intercontinental ballistic missile with an 8,000-kilometer range and developing another longer range missile that will likely be tested in the next few years.
“While the ultimate extent of China’s strategic modernization is unknown, it is clear that the number, reliability, survivability and accuracy of Chinese strategic missiles capable of hitting the United States will increase during the next two decades,” it said.
Mainland China also maintains elements of an offensive biological weapons program and has not acknowledged the full extent of its chemical weapons program, the report said.