US nuclear missile sub makes rare visit to base near Taiwan
A US Navy submarine carrying dozens of nuclear warheads sailed into a Pacific base for a rare visit on Saturday, with the Navy calling it a message to allies in the region.
The USS Nevada – a nuclear-powered submarine that was commissioned in 1986 – carries up to 20 Trident II D-5s and “dozens of nuclear warheads,” according to reports. The submarine visited US Naval Base Guam on January 15, in what was the first visit by this type of submarine since 2016, CNN reported.
In a statement, the US Navy said the visit “strengthens cooperation between the United States and allies in the region” and demonstrates “U.S. capability, flexibility, readiness, and continuing commitment to Indo-Pacific regional security and stability.”
The visit took place as Washington and Beijing have been increasingly at loggerheads, particularly over the issue of Taiwan, with the US backing the self-governing island’s administration.
In December, the US and Japan drafted an emergency military plan in preparation for a potential conflict between China and Taiwan, while in the same month, the Pentagon warned that China was “likely preparing” to invade the island.
Two months prior, President Joe Biden said the US is committed to defending Taiwan should China try to reunite the island with the mainland. The White House later backpedaled on his comments.
China, on the other hand, has threatened to “take drastic measures” should “separatist forces in Taiwan seeking independence provoke, exert force, or even break through any red line.”
Though Taipei considers Taiwan to be an independent country since the losing side of the Chinese Civil War fled there in 1949, Beijing sees the island as a part of its territory and has vowed to reunify the two.
Guam is less than 3,000km (1,860 miles) from Taiwan and hosts the closest US military base to the Chinese mainland on American territory.