A group of Georgetown University students have spent three years translating documents,examining satellite images, and obtaining restricted Chinese military information to assemble a comprehensive look at what is known as the “Underground Great Wall.”
The wall is actually 3,000 miles of tunnels to hide a missile and nuclear arsenal, The Washington Post reported.
The students were led by professor, Phillip Karber, a former top Pentagon official who worked with the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs. The 363-page study has not yet been released but it has caused a stir in Congress and the Pentagon for its conclusion that the Chinese could have far more nuclear weapons than previously thought, the Post reported.
“It’s not quite a bombshell, but those thoughts and estimates are being checked against what people think they know based on classified information,” a Defense Department strategist told the Post.
Karber began working on the project in 2008 when volunteering on a Pentagon committee working on weapons of mass destruction. The chairman of the committee was intrigued by reports that radiation technicians were rushed to the site of an earthquake in Sichuan province. Photos of the area showed collapsed hills that could have housed tunnels, the Post reported.
One of the findings of the study is that the number of nuclear warheads held by the Chinese could be as many as 3,000. Previous assumptions place the number of warheads as low as 80 and as high as 400, the Post reported.
Some critics have condemned the report’s conclusion as ridiculous, but Karber applauds the debate. “I don’t have the slightest idea how many nuclear weapons China really has, but neither does anyone else in the arms-control community,” he told the Post. “That’s the problem with China — no one really knows except them.”