Sen. Lindsey Graham said he will ask Senate leaders for a briefing on a media report concerning China's testing of a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile.
The South Carolina Republican said Monday that if Beijing is developing a hypersonic missile that can deliver nuclear weapons, it would be a "game changer" that poses a tremendous national security threat to the U.S., the Washington Examiner reported.
"Weakness breeds aggression and I'm going to ask the Senate leadership, [Senate Majority Leader Chuck] Schumer and [Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell, to brief the entire body on whether or not the story is true," Graham said on Fox News Channel.
The Financial Times reported Saturday that China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August, showing a capability that caught U.S. intelligence by surprise, citing five unnamed sources.
The report said the Chinese military launched a rocket carrying a hypersonic glide vehicle that flew through low-orbit space, circling the globe before cruising toward its target, which it missed by about two dozen miles.
The Chinese communists have denied the report, and said they tested a space vehicle in July, not a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile.
The U.S., China, and Russia all are working to create, test, and perfect hypersonic weapons that travel at five times the speed of sound. The missiles still would move slower than a ballistic missile, but they are more difficult for enemies to track due to more maneuverability.
China's nuclear capabilities have received increased attention as the Chinese communists escalate tensions with Taiwan. Leader Xi Jinping has vowed that China will achieve "reunification" with the island.
In response to the reported Chinese missile launch, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. sees China as the No. 1 "pacing challenge."
"We have made clear our concerns about the military capabilities China continues to pursue, capabilities that only increase tensions in the region and beyond," Kirby said, Fox News reported.
Chinese insiders say the test was not intended to spark a global arms race, but regain control of what Beijing considers its territory, according to U.S. News and World Report.
A Global Times opinion column — from an outlet considered a Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece — said Taiwan and its allies need to recognize China's technological strength.
"China's military buildup will focus on the Taiwan Straits and the South China Sea," the Times editorial said. "It is inevitable that China will take an upper hand over the U.S. military strength in these areas thanks to the geographical proximity and the continuous increase of China's input."
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