China says advanced DF-26 missile deployed but

China says its DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile has been incorporated into its rocket force, boosting its ability to counter opponents on land and at sea.

Defense ministry spokesman Wu Qian on Thursday told reporters the missile was capable of lofting both conventional and nuclear warheads, the latter to carry out a rapid retaliatory strike.

The missile is believed to have a range of up to 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles), leaving vulnerable the crucial U.S. military installations on the island of Guam.

Despite that, Wu said China remained firm in its defensive military posture, including a policy of never launching a nuclear first strike against an opponent.

China's missile force is largely designed to degrade Taiwan's defenses in a move to conquer the self-governing island, while holding off U.S. military support.