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WARNING BY U.S. PACIFIC COMMAND: China to have long-range nuclear missiles on subs this year...

Washington (AFP) - China for the first time will likely have subs equipped with long-range nuclear missiles later this year, part of an increasingly potent submarine fleet, a top US officer said Tuesday,

The head of US Pacific Command, Admiral Samuel Locklear, said the latest class of Chinese subs would be armed with a new ballistic missile with an estimated range of 4,000 nautical miles (7,500 kilometers).

"This will give China its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent, probably before the end of 2014," Locklear told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Locklear was referring to the production of China's JIN-class nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine and the new JL-2 missile on board the vessel.

"China’s advance in submarine capabilities is significant. They possess a large and increasingly capable submarine force," the admiral said.

In October, Chinese state media for the first time showed images of the country's nuclear-powered submarines, touting it as a "credible second-strike nuclear capability."

Locklear said China's submarine modernization effort was impressive.

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