China is known to have developed a whole family of ballistic missiles

Chinese newspaper confirms existence of intercontinental missiles

A Chinese provincial department appeared to have inadvertently confirmed the existence of an intercontinental ballistic missile that may be able to carry several nuclear warheads and travel as far as the US.

Although the world has long suspected that China has been developing the long-range nuclear solid-fuelled road-mobile missiles, known as Dongfeng-41(D-41), China has never admitted their existence.

However, on Friday, the state-backed Global Times tabloid published a report about the missile in its online edition citing an Internet posting by the Shaanxi Provincial Environmental Monitoring Center Station as its source. The posting reportedly said a military installation in the province was developing the weapons. The article featured a screenshot of the provincial monitoring station's online notice about the missile.

The paper said the missile was "a strategic trump card that is without a doubt the most mysterious and most capable of deterrence".

Both, the Global Times report and the station's notice were later taken down.

The Global Times follows developments in China's military closely and has frequently revealed new technology including China's stealth fighter jets.

It is generally seen as giving itself gradually more freedom in publishing sensitive information because it is owned by the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily newspaper.

The revelation doesn't come as complete surprise. The US Department of Defense previously estimated the presumed missile should be able to carry a payload of multiple nuclear warheads and some analysts have said the missile could have a range of about 12,000 km (7,500 miles), enough to reach the United States.

Earlier, the US Defence Department said in a report that the People's Liberation Army Second Artillery unit continued to modernise its nuclear forces by enhancing its intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The state-run Xinhua news agency has referred to the PLA's Second Artillery force as the "core force of China for strategic deterrence" under direct command of the powerful Central Military Commission.

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