Pentagon: China plans to double its stockpile of nuclear warheads in the next decade


According to a report released by the Pentagon Tuesday, China plans to double its stockpile of nuclear warheads in the next decade, including those designed to be carried atop ballistic missiles that can reach the United States. ~

Even with such increases, China’s nuclear force would be far smaller than that of the United States, which has an estimated 3,800 warheads in active status and others in reserve. China’s nuclear warhead stockpile is estimated to be in the low 200s. This is the first time the US military has disclosed China’s nuclear warhead count. According to the Pentagon, expansion of Chinese nuclear forces is part of a broader effort to assert more power on the world stage, with the goal of matching or surpassing the US as a global superpower by 2049. The Pentagon also suggested China may adopt a higher level of nuclear combat readiness. As of now, China keeps its nuclear warheads stored separately from its missiles and launchers and would need warning to prepare for an attack. According to the report, China’s goal is to achieve a “nuclear triad,” which includes developing a nuclear capable air-launched ballistic missile, while also modernizing ground and sea-based nuclear capabilities.~

The analysis comes as the US is in nuclear talks with Russia ahead of the expiration of the New START nuclear pact. A key sticking point is the US demand to include China in any new agreement, even as China has repeatedly refused. Pentagon officials on the trip also highlighted internal discussion to redistribute US forces concentrated in South Korea and Japan to Guam and points farther south (Yahoo News). ~

According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the report by the US Defense Department, which claims that Beijing plans to double the number of its nuclear warheads, is biased. The statement by ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, followed the release of the Pentagon’s annual report to Congress on China’s military operations on Tuesday. ~


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