10 More Missing Treasures You Can Still Find

Post 8385

10 More Missing Treasures You Can Still Find



Find treasure, and you could become instantly rich, maybe even famous. You could discover a part of history that we thought was gone forever, or something we never even knew existed. And unlike many other legends,hidden treasure is well documented. Any one of us could stumble across some at any point in our lives, without warning.

10Elysian Park

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Elysian Park is LA’s oldest and second-largest park, spread over roughly 600 acres. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility, therefore, that the legends of treasure there lost for over 150 years could be true.

During the US-Mexico war of 1846–1848, Southern California was a hotly contested territory. Troops from both sides fought for control of the land, striking fear into the hearts of the local elite. Legend has it that, to protect their immense wealth from hostile forces, locals took to the hills, caves, and ravines of this vast park to hide gold, jewels, and more.

Newspapers as far back as 1896 show that people have been searching for the treasure ever since. If the stories are true, it’s likely that many of the residents later recovered their riches. But it is equally likely that many died, fled, or lost their wealth forever by the time the war ended. The most famous example is that of Don Francisco Avila, who built the first-ever house in LA, which stands to this day. Avila was an extremely wealthy political figure and businessman and is likely to have stashed considerable amounts of expensive goods during the war.[1]

Treasure hunter Roy Roush claimed to have found etchings in rocks that he believes may point to the location of this treasure, while another man by the name of Marvin Baker also claims to have found such makeshift maps in the rocks. To this day, however, no treasure has been discovered in Elysian Park.

9Lake Toplitz

Photo credit: Wikimedia

High in the Austrian Alps, and deep in the dense mountain forest, Lake Toplitz is an ideal place to hide $5.6 billion of stolen gold. Rumors have long surrounded this isolated lake, with lifelong local Michl Kaltenbrunner claiming she can “guarantee” that the Nazis dumped gold in the lake. She would have been about 10 years old when World War II ended.[2]

What gives this theory some credence is that £700 million of counterfeit notes that Hitler had planned to use to destabilize the British economy were recovered from the lake in 1959. The dilemma here of course is the question of whether this is what the locals saw the Nazis dump in the lake or just part of what went down. The lake is over 300 feet (100 meters) deep, with a layer of logs floating roughly halfway down, making investigations a very risky ordeal.

8Poverty Island

Poverty Island in Lake Michigan is home to a lonely lighthouse and an absolutely ridiculous amount of gold, if legends are to be believed. Estimates based placed the value of the lost gold at around $400 million today. There are many legends surrounding the possible origin of this gold, the first of which dates back to the 1750s. According to this theory, British forces attacked a French ship sailing across Lake Michigan to woo the Native Americans with gold. To prevent the British from seizing the gold, the captain ordered it be thrown overboard. An almost identical story is attributed to the War of 1812.

Another legend speaks of James Strang, whose gold allegedly ended up in the lake after he was overthrown by his colony on a nearby island. The French make another appearance, with some legends saying the gold belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte the third. Bonaparte supposedly sent the gold to support the Confederates during the civil war, but the plan was thwarted when the ship was attacked and sunk by Canadian pirates. It is unknown whether they apologized.

According to yet another legend, the son of a lighthouse keeper saw a crew of treasure hunters celebrating aboard their ship one night in 1933. The men had reportedly been searching the lake for years, and when it finally looked as though they had found it, a storm hit and sunk them to the depths of Lake Michigan.[3]

The legends are far from over however, as in 2014, two men claimed to have found the shipwreck of what they claim to be the Griffin, a French ship. However, three years on, they have yet to provide any proof of their supposed $2 million discovery.

7Skeleton Canyon

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Skeleton Canyon is located in the Peloncillo Mountains along the Arizona-New Mexico border. Prior to the 20th century, the canyon was a popular trail for smugglers looking to quietly move their booty to Tucson, as well as for the bandits looking to ambush them. While it is possible or even likely that Skeleton Canyon contains multiple sites of hidden treasure, the Skeleton Canyon Treasure refers to one specific haul, originally known as the Monterrey loot.

Toward the end of the 19th century, American bandits carried out a raid on the Mexican city of Monterrey. Despite a few deaths, the raid was quite successful, with the bandits purportedly making off with 39 bars of gold, $1 million worth of diamonds, bags or silver and gold coins, and countless golden crucifixes, chalices, statues, and other humble Catholic artifacts.

The band of bandits were hotly pursued on the 1,000-mile trail, leading them to hide as much of the treasure as they could. Many of these men died on the journey, which is how the canyon got its name. There have been several reports throughout the years of men who set up camp, only to quickly disappear, leading locals to believe they may have been recovering the treasure. It has never been proven whether any or all of the treasure has been recovered, so this canyon may have more than a few skeletons in its closet to this day.[4]

6Kruger’s Millions

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger, or “Uncle Paul” for short, was the third president of the South African Republic for over 17 years at the close of the 19th century. With the advent of the Second Boer War, and public opinion turning against him, Kruger fled South Africa in 1900, two years before his presidency officially ended. But not before taking a little something for himself first.

As Kruger made his escape for Europe, rumors swirled that the train he was riding on was also carrying a substantial amount of gold. Subsequent investigations revealed not only that £1.5 million had been stolen from the government, but that it had been slowly siphoned off for months. Five years later, a prisoner named John Holtzhausen revealed that he had been hired to bury the gold north of Leydsdorp and was the last surviving member of the team.[5]

In 2001, a Zulu family in the town of Ermelo came forward claiming to have found some of the lost coins, while last year another man claims to have found the treasure at the base of the Emmarentia dam. Even if both of these claims are true (and neither has been verified), Ermelo councillors believe the stash would have been split up into at least three caches.


5Tsar’s Treasure

Photo credit: Siberian Times

When most people think of Russian royalty, they’ll think of one of three things: oppression, conspiracy, or decadence. It should come as no surprise therefore that Tsar Nicholas II allegedly stashed away what would now be billions of dollars’ worth of treasure prior to the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. The only question is where.

One theory is that the treasure, consisting mainly of gold, was hidden or simply lost in the tunnels underneath Omsk, a Siberian city that acted as a de facto capital during the revolution. Omsk has a vast network of underground tunnels, and it is a known fact that gold was transported there during the revolution, making this a perfectly plausible theory.

In 2001, it was suggested that the gold could be hidden beneath the home of ballerina/royal mistress Mathilda Kshesinskaya. Excavations of her St. Petersburg home appear to have been a fruitless effort, but since Kshesinskaya only died in 1971, it is possible the gold was moved at some point during the intervening years.[6]

A third theory suggests that the gold went down with the RMS Republic, an Irish ship that sank off the coast of Nantucket. According to this theory, the gold was being sent by the French to the Tsar in secret, when the Republiccollided with another ship and sank. The wreck was rediscovered in 1981, but a 74-day search conducted several years later turned up nothing.

Finally, another theory suggests that the gold may have been aboard a trans-Siberian train that crashed into Lake Baikal, which just happens to be the oldest and deepest lake in the world. Excavations have been attempted, but have met with little success other than confirming the location of the train.

4Ivory Coast Crown Jewels

Photo credit: BBC

In 2010, the Ivory Coast held its first election in over 10 years, which saw the incumbent president Gbagbo pitted against the much more popular Alassane Ouattara. When Gbagbo was declared the winner, the country was thrown into a turmoil that would become known as the 2010–2011 Ivorian Crisis. Although the crisis was short-lived, and Ouattara has shown himself to be a promising figure for change after being democratically reelected five years later, this brief conflict may have cost the coast one of its most valuable treasures: the Ivory Coast Crown Jewels.

As civil war raged through the country, with heavy UN & French intervention, over 80 objects were stolen from the Museum of Civilizations, including masks, necklaces, scepters, and religious artifacts. Valued at around $6 million, it is the immense cultural significance of these objects that sets them apart from other similar losses. Unlike most crown jewels, which are passed down from heir to heir, the Ivory Coast collection represented multiple kingdoms and dynasties, making the loss of this diverse collection especially devastating. Interpol is trying to locate the items on the black market, but have had no success to date.[7]

3Awa Maru

Originally intended to be an ocean liner, the Awa Maru was a Japanese warship built during World War II. With the end of the war drawing near, the US grew increasingly concerned for Allied troops being held captive in Japan. Not because they feared mass execution but because the Japanese were low on resources and would prioritize their own people over their enemies. Switzerland, in its usual peaceful manner, negotiated a deal between the two sides: the US would send emergency supplies, allowing Japanese ships to pass by un-bombed.

Seeing an opportunity to turn the war around, the Japanese used ships much larger than necessary, letting them safely transport raw materials, their brightest citizens, and a collection of invaluable treasure, such as gold and art. Unfortunately for the Japanese, bad weather prevented the entire US fleet from hearing the ‘no-bombing’ plan, and the USS Queenfish torpedoed the Awa Maru in 1945, killing all but one of the 2,004 people onboard.[8]

Although the US concealed the location of the sunken ship for some time, it was declassified and revealed to have gone down in Chinese waters. In the 1970s, a Chinese expedition spent millions trying to recover the treasure, but turned up nothing. The value of the treasure, which included ivory, precious metal, gemstones, and historical artifacts, has been estimated as $5–10 billion, making it potentially the biggest haul in treasure-hunting history.

2Brink’s-Mat Robbery

Photo credit: Wikimedia

The Brink’s-Mat warehouse was a highly secure facility located in Heathrow Airport, London. On November 26, 1983, the security guard on shift was Anthony Black, an inside man who allowed six gunmen into the facility.

The original plan was to break in and abscond with as much cash as possible, but upon entering, the men discovered much more than they bargained for. The warehouse was teeming with platinum, gold, diamonds, checks, and cold hard cash. After dousing the staff in petrol and threatening to set them alight, the men packed up the goods and fled. What was intended to be a haul of around £3 million cash ended up being a literal treasure trove to the tune of £26 million.[9]

Black, who has links to the criminal underworld through his brother-in-law, was sentenced to six years in prison, while two of the armed men were caught and also received sentences of 25 years. Police could trace how a lot of the haul was laundered, but it is believed that £10 million worth of gold remains hidden, and the case has yet to be solved in full.

1Hatton Garden Heist

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Hatton Garden is the Amsterdam of Britain, with a long history of jewelers and diamond traders taking up residence in the London district. It should come as no surprise so that it is also home to some of the UK’s highest security safes, such as the aptly named Hatton Garden Safe Deposit.

What makes this robbery particularly interesting, apart from being the single biggest robbery in British history, is it took place over two days, during theEaster Bank Holiday weekend in April 2015. On their first attempt, four elderly career thieves used an elevator shaft to gain entry to the lower levels of the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit. Using a diamond-tipped drill, they bore through the walls and gained entry to the safe. They then discovered that they couldn’t enter the cabinets where the goods were kept, so they left, got the necessary supplies, and returned the next day. They then walked out with all measure of gold, diamonds, jewelry, and cash. Original estimates placed the cost of the robbery at £14 million, but that has now risen to £25 million. Only one-third of the loot has ever been recovered.[10]

An alarm was triggered on day one, and although a security guard did show up, he was not permitted to enter without police presence (for his own safety). Police likely did not respond because the thieves had tried to disable the alarm system. Unfortunately, these pensioners severely underestimated the omnipresence of technology in today’s world and left a very blatant trail of CCTV footage and phone signals that led police straight to them.

If you’re thinking the only real losers here are the big bad bankers, think again. If you got robbed and didn’t have private insurance, it’s not their problem. Makes you wonder how much they spend on security, especially considering the alarm woke the guard up while he was at home asleep, and not on site guarding.

Simon is a 26-year-old Irish writer who enjoys living up to Irish stereotypes such as drinking and loving the potato. You can follow him on Twitter here.

Top 10 Fascinating Facts About Uzbekistan

Post 8383

Top 10 Fascinating Facts About Uzbekistan

ASH SHARP MAY 19, 2017


Countries are weird places. So much of our individual identities are tied to arbitrary lines on maps. Robert Anton Wilson said, “Every national border marks the place where two gangs of bandits got too exhausted to kill each other anymore and signed a treaty.” Is that true? Maybe. In our quest to find out more about our world, this week, we’ve gathered some interesting things about Uzbekistan.

10In A Majority-Muslim Country, Vodka Is Hugely Popular

Uzbekistan is one of the few places in the world where religious suppression under the Soviets gave way to more religious suppression but with fewergulags. While the nation has slowly become reacquainted with the Islamic faith, the religion is largely nondenominational and is kept under strict control by the government.

The cultural influence of Russia predates communism quite considerably, extending back to before “the Great Game” with Britain in the 19th century. As such, it is quite common in Uzbekistan to find Russian influence in cuisine, particularly in the consumption of vodka, which is often served in teapots.[1]Wine production is also a relatively resurgent force, with a winemaking pedigree that dates back to Alexander the Great before coming back into fashion in the last century.

9A Lost City The Size Of Monaco Was Literally Just Discovered

Photo credit: Daily Sabah

The Chinese and Uzbeks have been collaborating since 2011 on archaeological projects along old Silk Road routes, and they just hit paydirt.[2]In Ming-Tepe in the Ferghana Valley, what was previously thought to be merely a staging post for the Silk Road has in fact been revealed to be a 2,000-year-old settlement.

The people of those days were likely trading with the Han Dynasty, as the first-century Book of the Later Han tells: “The Son of Heaven on hearing all this reasoned thus: Fergana (Dayuan) and the possessions of Bactria and Parthia are large countries, full of rare things, with a population living in fixed abodes and given to occupations somewhat identical with those of the Chinese people, but with weak armies, and placing great value on the rich produce of China.”

Investigations are ongoing, but the excavation could reveal an ancient city of the Yuezhi people, the nomadic tribes that overthrew the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, which would make this location one of the earliest places where Eastern and Western cultures met.

8Islam Struggles With Authoritarianism

The government of Uzbekistan doesn’t seem to have changed much since the days behind the Iron Curtain. The former president, Islam Karimov, started out as leader of the Communist Party and ruled for four terms, which is pretty impressive when you realize that the constitutional limit is just two. Minor breaches of the law aside, Karimov was dead set on preventing Uzbekistan from forsaking the complete lack of public freedoms of a post-Soviet autocracy in favor of the complete lack of freedom provided by the ideology over the border in Afghanistan. “I’m prepared to rip off the heads of 200 people [ . . . ] in order to save peace and calm in the republic. If my child chose such a path, I myself would rip off his head,” he said, sounding like an utter villain.

Of course, being an authoritarian dictator comes with its problems, like what to do with Islamist terrorists. During the hilariously unsuccessful War on Terror, Karimov allowed multiple black sites for the United States’ extraordinary rendition program. Relations with the West soured, however, when it emerged that in addition to handing over suspected terrorists to the CIA for torture in Guantanamo, Karimov’s regime was also boiling them alive.

The issue the Uzbek people have is that their Muslim culture has been suppressed for so long. The country’s beautifully designed 14th- and 15th-century buildings might have been preserved, but Uzbekistan has maintained a secular stranglehold—leaving the door open for subversive and revolutionary Islamism to take root with the young.[3]

7Corruption Is Rife

One of the major issues with the Eastern Bloc countries was the high level ofcorruption. Uzbekistan takes their state corruption very seriously. As Amnesty International Director John Dalhuisen says, “It’s an open secret that anyone who falls out of favor with the authorities can be detained and tortured in Uzbekistan. No one can escape the tendrils of the state.”[4]Transparency International ranks Uzbekistan as 156th out of 176 countries for corruption, with virtually every area of public life ridden with favoritism, bribery, and so on. Extortion by public officials is particularly common.

You might expect such nefarious actions to extend to the very top, and you’d be correct. Parliamentary and presidential elections are regularly criticized for ballot-stuffing and fabrication of results, and Gulnara Karimova, daughter of the former president, ran an extensive money laundering and corruption network that siphoned hundreds of millions of dollars out of the country.

In most countries, you’d expect enterprising journalists to reveal such behavior, except . . .

6Freedom Of The Press Doesn’t Exist

In Uzbekistan, you have two choices: state-controlled media or nothing. For example, while Gulnara Karimova was happily fleecing every business she could get her hands on, the press were publishing puff pieces to clean up her image. Karimova’s shenanigans were common knowledge, and according to leaked US communiques, she was the country’s “most hated person.” Within a year of those cables in 2013, the news site Uznews.net (now closed by the Uzbek authorities) published pieces distancing President Karimov from his daughter as he dismantled her business empire, and reports emerged that the Uzbek secret police had Gulnara under house arrest.

Imagine a society with some semblance of a free press in which these events occurred. Imagine that Chelsea Clinton had been arrested by the FBI and had been discovered defrauding the nation. Then imagine that nothing is heard for almost three years, and Chelsea is presumed dead, only to apparently resurface again, still under house arrest.[5] The fact that news of this case is smuggled out in secret letters or by secret meetings with Swiss lawyers should give some insight into the state of the media—and that’s without mentioning the four journalists still in Uzbek jails for criticizing the state.

5Huge, Juicy Melons

On a happier note, Uzbekistan is the world capital of melons. They have in excess of 150 different varieties, which form a staple part of the local diet, served fresh in the summer and eaten dried through the winter. According to the Press Office of Uzbek Tourism, achieving mastery in melon-cutting is a real thing that people do, as is judging whose melons taste the best.[6]

We would like to inform our readership that writing this entry without making double entendres has become impossible, and it is therefore the shortest entry on this list, due to the writer being juvenile. We apologize unreservedly.

4The Legendary Conqueror Tamerlane Was Born In Uzbekistan

Photo credit: shakko

In the West, we know relatively little about Tamerlane, or rather, we are taught relatively little in comparison to the Mongol horde of Genghis Khan. Perhaps this is due to the fact the Timurid Empire only lasted for 137 years and did not spawn successive empires.

As a Turco-Mongolian, Tamerlane found himself in a unique and challenging position during his rise to power. His Turkmen heritage and Islamic faith gave him some legitimacy with the Muslim world, and his Mongol lineage did the same on the side of the great hordes. However, as neither a direct successor of Muhammad nor Genghis Khan, Tamerlane needed subtle politics and myth-making to create his advantage. By claiming to be “protector of the member of a Chinggisid line, that of Genghis Khan’s eldest son, Jochi” (in reality a puppet), Tamerlane dodged the requirement of being a khan to rule. By circulating myths of his own divine provenance, he played into the Muslim belief that military success came from Allah alone, and therefore Tamerlane was surely anointed in some manner.[7]

Remembered in Uzbekistan as a folk hero and great conqueror, Tamerlane forged a huge, multiethnic army ostensibly under his self-styled banner as the “Sword of Islam.” His career saw the defeat of the Knights Templar, the sacking of Delhi, and the conquering of the fractured nation-states of Persia and eventually led to his death while trying to conquer the Ming Dynasty.

Tamerlane was, in short, a total badass. He also killed an estimated 17 million people and employed terror as a weapon with no qualms whatsoever, once building several pyramids from the severed heads of 200,000 of his own subjects who had rebelled against his taxation. In such a way, Tamerlane is considered to be the founding father of systematic terror as a weapon of war.


A double-landlocked country is a landlocked country that is itself surrounded by landlocked countries. Uzbekistan is in Central Asia and is surrounded by Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. As you need to cross at least two of these countries (i.e Turkmenistan and Iran orAfghanistan and Pakistan) to reach the coastline of the Arabian Sea, Uzbekistan is doubly landlocked.

Time for pedantry. It could be argued that, in fact, Uzbekistan is not landlocked at all, having the Aral Sea to the north. This argument is wrong. The Aral Sea is technically a saltwater lake and has no connection to the ocean, so Uzbekistan is truly a double-landlocked country.[8]

Here’s a pop quiz for the comments: Uzbekistan is one of only two doubly landlocked countries in the world. Which is the other one? No search engines allowed.

2A Massacre Changed The Course Of The Country (But No One Really Knows Why)

Photo credit: The Kalifah

The Andijan massacre in 2005 was, without a doubt, a bloodbath. Beyond this, things get a little confused. What is known is that 23 businessmen who were members of an ostensibly peaceful Muslim group were arrested, allegedly for growing too powerful and threatening government control. These men were promptly broken out of jail by armed fighters, and then an occupation of the town took place.

According to the protestors, the standard of living in Andijan was too low. The businessmen proposed a form of Islamic socialism, a high minimum wage, and job creation programs. The government disagreed, and the army was instructed to move in, massacring an estimated 500 people.[9] Some place the death toll as high as 1,500.

The government claimed that the protestors were Islamists, but this appears unlikely, given the nature of the group in question. It had no history of violence and no support for other actual Islamist groups in Uzbekistan who advocated for an Islamic state. We may never know the truth, but US president George W. Bush denounced the repression, which in turn led to the closure of the US Air Force base at Karshi-Khanabad and a strengthening of ties between the Uzbeks and China and Russia. The support of these two countries headed off an international investigation by the UN, and the true events of the massacre may never be revealed.

1Hope For The Future

After the death of Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan received only its second president since declaring independence in 1991. Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who comes from from the same Samarkand clan as his predecessor, could in no terms be described as a modernizer.[10] However, after taking power in a routine, Soviet-style sham election, Mirziyoyev has actually slackened the authoritarian grip the state has on Uzbekistan a tiny, tiny bit.

After announcing an online portal for Uzbeks to write to him with their concerns, President Mirziyoyev has signed a valuable trade deal with Chinaand moved to improve relations with Uzbekistan’s neighbors. Flights to Kyrgyzstan have resumed for the first time since 2005, and while the country still an isolationist state, there is at least the vaguest feeling that Uzbekistan may be opening the door a crack.

Why China’s Nervous Over South Korea’s New Missile Defense System

Post 8382

Why China’s Nervous Over South Korea’s New Missile Defense System

FILE – In this Tuesday, May 2, 2017 file photo, a U.S. missile defense system called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, is installed at a golf course in Seongju, South Korea. Clashes between residents and police over the deployment of an advanced U.S. anti-missile system highlight a divisive issue ahead of South Korea’s presidential election on May 9. (Kim Jun-beom/Yonhap via AP, File)

Chinese officials have long protested the U.S. deployment of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system to South Korea because they believe it can spy on its military activities deep inside its mainland. Well, on Tuesday, Beijing’s fears were pretty much confirmed when military officials in South Korea reported that they were in fact able to detect North Korea’s recent ballistic missile test Sunday with THAAD.

Reuters reports that South Korean officials were able to determine that the missile was an IRBM (intermediate range ballistic missile), which can travel between 1,860 to 2,485 miles. The country’s defense minister, Han Min-koo, added that the North’s missile program is developing faster than expected.

While we are not sure how, exactly, the South used THAAD to track the north’s missile test, the accompanying X-band AN/TPY-2 radar may have played a role. To recap, THAAD uses powerful radar systems to track short, medium, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles similar to the ones North Korea could use in a hypothetical a nuclear shooting match. THAAD then uses non-warhead equipped missiles to destroy the enemy projectile.

To be sure, China is not worried about THAAD’s missiles; again, they are not armed with warheads, so they are not offensive weapons. What’s really at issue here is the radar.

At the same time, as The Diplomat explained in March, there are some technical issues countering the argument that the system is as powerful of the Chinese claim it is. For example, this isn’t the first time the U.S. has deployed AN/TPY-2 radar. There are already two in Japan, specifically the Shariki, Aomori prefecture. Also, the surveillance range of the AN/TPY-2 may not be able to monitor the locations where the Chinese do more of their missile testing, as The Diplomat explains:

Second, while we have no watertight estimates on just how capable the AN/TPY-2 radar is and in what configurations, even the most generous estimates don’t leave the Gyeongsangbuk-do unit capable of any useful surveillance deep into the Gobi desert, where China has its most active and sensitive missile testing ranges. (AN/TPY-2 range estimates go from “several hundred miles” to 3,000 km.) I’ve mapped out the ranges below with the most generous range estimate of 3,000 km, using a Chinese ballistic missile impact range that Thomas Shugart at War on the Rocksrecently revealed as a test-bed for potential People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force preempetive warfare tactics (i.e., a site of surveillance interest for the United States).

Adding the westernmost AN/TPY-2 in Japan — the Kyogamisaki Communications Site unit — the map doesn’t change drastically, either. (Incidentally, North Korea’s latest missile test resulted in three missiles splashing down in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, between the two AN/TPY-2s in the country — a less-than-subtle show of confidence.)

There is an argument that THAAD could threaten China’s second-strike capabilities—its ability to respond in kind to a nuclear attack, and minimize its chances of being obliterated or crippled by an enemy’s first strike.

Li Bin, a nuclear weapons expert at Tsinghua University in Beijing, wrote in March that THAAD’s radar would “would undermine China’s nuclear deterrence by collecting important data on Chinese nuclear warheads.”

More specifically, as the New York Times explains, Beijing fears Washington can use the radar to get a jump start on its nuclear weapons strike response (China as a no first use nuclear weapons policy), weakening its capabilities to the point of uselessness:

He and other Chinese experts say the radar could identify which Chinese missiles are carrying decoy warheads intended to outfox foes. That would be like being able to see what cards China holds in a nuclear poker game, and that could weaken China’s deterrent, they say.

“For China this is a very important point, because its missiles are limited in number to begin with,” Wu Riqiang, a nuclear expert at Renmin University in Beijing. That meant, he said, “China could lose its nuclear retaliatory capacity.”

For China, it does not matter that the American and South Korean governments have said Thaad is meant only to foil North Korean missiles. Mr. Wu said.

“What we worry about is the ability. It doesn’t matter to us whether the United States says this is aimed at North Korea or China,” Mr. Wu said. “If there’s this ability, then China must worry.”

What this comes down to is trust. Beijing doesn’t believe that the U.S. will use THAAD solely as a defensive measure against a North Korean missile attack. If the Chinese truly believe THAAD can track which of its missiles is carrying a warhead, it is a moot conversation to argue that it will not be used for that.

The fact that THAAD can determine the success of North Korea’s latest ballistic missile test will not make China feel any more secure about it being deployed in South Korea. If it can be used to track Pyongyang’s actions, to what extent can it be used to do the same against Beijing?

That is what has China up at night.