dongfeng
An earlier version of China's Dongfeng missile at the Chinese Military Museum in BeijingJason Lee/Reuters

China has successfully launched a test missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead 10,000km – meaning the whole of Europe and parts of the US is within its range.

The Dongfeng missile can be fired from mobile launchers capable of traversing rough terrain, meaning they can be easily moved and hidden from detection by spy satellites.

China launched the missile on 26 September. The Pentagon confirmed the launch it took place.

Although refusing to provide details, Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia O Smith told the Washington Free Beacon: "We continue to monitor China's military modernization, including its missile tests."

Concern in the US is growing at the extent of China's nuclear armoury, particularly as Chinese state media has stated weapons are being developed for use against the US, probably to strengthen its hand in nuclear proliferation talks. China has a wide range of missiles capable of being launched from land, air or submarines, and some have the capability to carry multiple nuclear warheads, capable of striking up to three US cities simultaneously.

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Concern is growing at the proliferation of nuclear missiles.Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation/ Reuters

China is also believed to be developing a high-technology hypersonic strike vehicle which could deliver nuclear payloads at speeds of Mach 10 (7,680mph) along the edge of space, making them virtually impossible to be defended against.

The US, Russia and India are believed to be developing similar missiles.

It is estimated that China only has around 250 nuclear warheads, compared with the 2,104 operational warheads operated by the US.

Major General Yao Yunzhu, China's director of the Center of America-China Defense Relations for the Academy of Military Science, said in a letter to the Pacific Forum of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, that China still lags behind the US in terms of nuclear weapons.

"The Ballistic Missile Defense systems that the US and its allies have deployed, or are planning to deploy, are capable of intercepting Chinese nuclear weapons launched for retaliation after it has already been attacked, thus potentially negating the deterrence effect of the Chinese nuclear arsenal," said Yunzhu.

Retired Peoples' Liberation Army general Xu Guangyu told the South China Morning Post: "Beijing just wants to increase China's military might and its nuclear strategic threat. It's not really targeting the US or other countries.

"China needs to conduct intensive weapons tests and military drills because the (US-led build-up) now in the Asia-Pacific area is not good for Beijing."

China's Dongfeng missile range
China's Dongfeng missile has a range of 10,000km, which means it can reach most of the northern hemisphere, and all of Asia.Google Maps/Obeattie