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"China conducts long-range nuclear missile drill"

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The DF-31 ballistic missile. A china-pla.blogspot photo

BEIJING (AFP): China's military has released images of an intercontinental ballistic missile with enough range to reach the United States, as Beijing is involved in a series of rows threatening to embroil Washington.

The pictures of Chinese soldiers test-firing a Dongfeng-31 missile, which is said by experts to be able to carry nuclear warheads, appeared in the People's Liberation Army Daily newspaper on Tuesday.

Further images showing soldiers dressed in protective suits, suggesting that the drill was simulating the launch of an armed warhead, were also posted on the sohu.com news portal, attributed to the newspaper.

Sohu.com said it was the first time that images of such an exercise had been released.

The images could not be found on the PLA Daily's website when checked by AFP on Thursday.

China is embroiled in a series of territorial disputes with its neighbours in the South China Sea, and is locked in a row with Japan in the East China Sea over islands administered by Tokyo and claimed by Beijing.

The US has a security alliance with Japan and Vice President Joe Biden said last month that a strategic shift to Asia would continue.

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