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China’s ‘Doomsday’ bullet trains could see nukes fired from disguised carriages

Express trains with hidden missile launchers could target US and European cities with hundreds of nuclear warheads that couldn’t be detected until after they were launched.

Rick Fisher, a senior fellow on Asian military affairs at the International Assessment and Strategy Centre, warned that China's rail system could potentially support “a thousand additional warheads capable of reaching European and American targets”.

The idea of hiding compact nuclear missiles, similar to the weapons used by nuclear submarines, on trains is not in itself new.

The concept was used by the Soviet Union between 1987 and 2005, and the North Korean military has released images of a train-based missile test in the past year.

North Korean news agency KCNA released photographs showing a missile being launched from the top of a camouflage-painted train in a mountainous area.

But the Chinese approach – using super-fast 220mph trains instead of conventional rolling stock – makes the threat even greater and raises the prospect of a strike triggering World War Three.

“Compared with heavy-haul railways, high-speed railways operate faster and more smoothly,” said a paper from researchers at the Southwest Jiaotong University in Chengdu.

“This means that on high-speed rails, the mobility, safety and concealment of military vehicles would be greater.”

The super fast trains could beat deployed anywhere on China’s 23,000 miles of high speed track, making surveillance of potential launch sites almost impossible.

The launchers, currently being stored in freight cars, could potentially be housed in containers painted to resemble passenger trains, making them even harder to spot.

China is believed to have conducted a test launch of a DF-41 missile from a train in December 2015.

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The 65ft DF-41 is an 80-ton ICBM which can deliver up to 10 nuclear warheads or penetration aids over a range of some 9,300 miles.

Rick Fisher said that China’s rail-based launcher system greatly increases the threat of a first nuclear strike: “China's development of conventional or high speed rail launched ICBMs would add a new layer to its already accelerating nuclear threat against America and Europe,” he told the Sun.

“Historically, the CCP has demonstrated a preference for starting surprise wars with enemies that are relatively weaker.”

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