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China’s New Spy Post in Cuba Poses Nuclear Risks

China has recently upgraded its spy facility in Cuba, adding more listening power to a global network that increasingly threatens to alter the undersea nuclear balance of power and potentially spark new rounds of nuclear proliferation. 

This month, the Wall Street Journal reported that China and Cuba have together built a new intelligence-gathering training facility in Cuba, from where the two communist allies could potentially and will likely seek to intercept US military communications, tech industry secrets and maritime transmissions.

The Wall Street Journal report notes that China is trying to replicate US global surveillance capabilities and that Cuba could play a crucial role in the scheme. Both China and the US already operate listening posts around the world as part of their signals intelligence (SIGINT) programs, which are known to eavesdrop on voice conversations, text messages, emails, location, signals and data transmissions.

The Wall Street Journal notes that US officials announced in June that China had struck an agreement worth several billion dollars with Cuba to build a new military facility capable of electronic eavesdropping just a hundred miles from the southern US state of Florida.

The report also mentions that US officials say China and Cuba already jointly run four eavesdropping stations on the island, with experts noting this is just the latest chapter in a long history of Cuba’s involvement in helping US near-peer adversaries’ eavesdropping.

The Wall Street Journal says a Chinese listening post would have a clear mission: to eavesdrop on satellites, which convey much of the world’s and US’ military, diplomatic and commercial information.

The report says that satellite dishes on purported SIGINT facilities such as those run by China in Cuba can range from a single dish to over a dozen, allowing the station to target multiple satellites simultaneously.

The report points out that China primarily focuses on commercial eavesdropping, with enormous amounts of technological communication going back and forth between Silicon Valley and other areas.

It also says that China’s Cuba SIGINT facilities could have a direction-finding apparatus known as an “elephant cage” or “wullenweber,” which are giant antennas with 360 elements in a circle.

It notes that such a device can track maritime activity, with Cuba strategically located to pick up signals along the US East Coast and triangulate the location of US nuclear submarines in conjunction with China’s similar facilities worldwide.

Source : asiatimes