Adm. William Gortney, the commander of the U.S. Northern Command, said that China deployed three submarines armed with ballistic missiles at sea. The submarines, the commander said, may strike the United States with nuclear missiles.
According to Gortney, the submarines will be able to strike the United States when fully deployed with missiles and warheads. The Chinese subs have been deployed in the South China Sea at a base on Hainan Island.
"They've not loaded their missiles or begun strategic patrols," Adm. William Gortney said. "But we believe they are likely to begin this year," he added.
In addition, Gortney said with reference to U.S. intelligence agencies that North Korea was capable of mounting a small nuclear warhead on its new road-mobile KN-08 intercontinental missiles.
Gortney said any time a nation has nuclear weapons and delivery systems that can reach the U.S. homeland, "it's a concern of mine."
It was the first time a senior U.S. military official voiced worries about Chinese nuclear missile submarines.
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