The neutron bomb is a controversial weapon. Indeed,
the public disclosure by the United
States of its development in 1977 has
provoked sharp and widespread debate that is likely to continue in the future.
Although the United States
has manufactured and stockpiled neutron bombs, in order to mollify public
opposition in Europe it announced in 1981 that
these weapons would not be deployed overseas at that time. France has
developed and tested a neutron bomb successfully, but it has not yet decided
whether to produce and deploy it. The Soviet Union
claims that, although it has tested a neutron bomb, it has never started
production of that weapon.
What about China? There is little information
about the neutron bomb in open literature, yet Chinese Defense Minister Zhang
Aiping said recently at a memorial service for China's leading nuclear
scientist, Deng Jiaxian, that Deng made important contributions to the theory of
atomic and hydrogen bombs and their successful testing as well as major
breakthroughs in the principles of new nuclear weapons and their research and
testing. What kind of new nuclear weapons? Do they include the neutron bomb?
Minister Zhang Aiping did not mention this weapon. Maybe China is not developing the neutron bomb now,
but at least we can say that China,
as a nuclear country, has the ability to develop it and is interested in it.
need neutron bombs? This report reviews U.S.
and French plans for deployment of the neutron bomb and, further, evaluates the
practicality of neutron bombs for China
from the perspective of China's
politics, strategy, geography, and technical and economic capabilities.