77. National Intelligence Estimate/1/

NIE 13-2-65

Washington, February 10, 1965.

/1/Source: Department of State, INR/EAP Files: Lot 90 D 110, NIE 13-2-65. Secret; Controlled Dissem. According to a note on the cover sheet, the estimate was submitted by the Director of Central Intelligence and prepared by the CIA and the intelligence organizations of the Departments of State and Defense, Atomic Energy Commission, and the National Security Agency. All members of the U.S. Intelligence Board concurred on February 10, except the FBI representative, who abstained on the grounds that the subject was outside his jurisdiction.

NIE 13-2-65 was originally issued on January 27. It included a discussion section not included in the later version here printed. The conclusions of the later version are slightly revised but similar in substance. (Central Intelligence Agency, NIE Files)



The Problem

To assess the current state of Communist China's nuclear weapons and missile program and, insofar as possible, estimate the future course and size of that program.


Although we have obtained a considerable amount of new information in the past year or so, there remain serious gaps in our information and we are therefore not able to judge the present state or to project the future development of the Chinese program with any high degree of confidence. The specific judgments in this paper should be read in the light of this general caution.


A. Communist China's first nuclear test on 16 October 1964 was of an implosion fission device with U-235 as the fissionable material [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. We cannot estimate with confidence its weight or dimensions but believe it was relatively large and heavy. The most likely source of the U-235 was uranium first brought to partial enrichment in the gaseous diffusion facility at Lanchou and then further enriched by the electromagnetic process. We cannot, however, rule out the possibility that the U-235 was of Soviet or other non-Chinese origin though we believe this to be highly unlikely.

B. Although we have no good basis for estimating the current level of production of fissionable material, we believe that the Chinese will have enough material during the next two years to conduct a test program, with enough left over to stockpile at least a few bombs. The Chinese could now build bombs based on the results of their first test which could be carried by their two TU-16 medium jet bombers or their 12 or so TU-4s.

C. The evidence leads us to estimate that the Chinese Communists are developing a medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM). We believe this system is essentially a Soviet design, probably the SS-4, perhaps with some Chinese modifications. It is possible that the Chinese could have a few MRBMs ready for deployment with compatible fission warheads in 1967 or 1968. A weapon in bomb configuration could be available somewhat earlier and could be delivered by the Chinese air force's light jet IL-28 bombers of which they have about 290.

D. The Chinese have a submarine closely similar in outward appearance to the Soviet G-class submarine which is designed to launch 350 n.m. ballistic missiles while surfaced. We do not know whether the Chinese built this submarine or assembled components supplied by the USSR, or what missile they expect to put in it. We have no evidence that the Chinese are constructing any more of this type submarine and it would be at least several years before any units could be operational with Chinese-produced missiles.

E. The Soviets provided the Chinese with some surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) by mid-1960. We have no evidence to confirm or deny that the Soviets have furnished any more since then and we do not know how many such missiles are now in China. The Chinese have an urgent requirement for SAMs and we believe are working hard on a production program. There are indications that the Chinese are now producing some kind of surface-to-air missile, either Soviet-type SAMs or prototypes of a Chinese version. The evidence is not sufficient to permit a firm judgment but we think it highly unlikely that either will be produced on a large scale for two or three years.

F. It is unlikely that the Chinese will develop a deliverable thermonuclear weapon for several years, and there is little chance of an intercontinental capability until after 1970.

SOURCE: Foreign Relations of the United States 1964-68, Vol. XXX, China