China pushing new generation of nuclear weapons: report

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China is reportedly stepping up its development of next-generation nuclear weapons, holding tests to simulate blasts more often than the United States is.

The United States carries out less than one such test a month on average, while China’s average is five tests a month.

China conducted about 200 nuclear blast simulations between September 2014 and December 2017, according to the China Academy of Engineering Physics, a major Chinese weapons research institute.

{mosads}The United States, in comparison, carried out only 50 such tests between 2012 and 2017, according to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, an American federal research facility in California used to aid national security.

Experts warned The South China Morning Post that as China, the United States and Russia separately seek more targeted nuclear weapons to deter against potential threats, the risk of a nuclear conflict increases.

The White House has pushed a $1.2 trillion plan to upgrade its nuclear stockpile, while the Pentagon In January unveiled its Nuclear Posture Review, which calls for developing smaller, low-yield nuclear weapons to deter Russia and China.

Pentagon officials have said the United States wants aggressive nations to believe it might actually use such weapons.

“We need to ensure we have a credible nuclear deterrent, and we are confident that we are prepared to … defend this nation no matter what,” Pentagon chief spokeswoman Dana White said in February.

Congress followed up with authorization to fund such weapons in separate versions of its annual defense policy bill.

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of a $716 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal 2019 — moved to the full Senate last week — supports the administration’s request for $65 million to develop a low-yield nuclear warhead.

The House’s version of the NDAA, passed by the full chamber last week, also authorizes $65 million for the new low-yield nuclear weapon, to be launched from submarines.

But after the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review was released, Chinese state-run paper Global Times published an editorial that stated China would seriously consider going public with its low-yield nuclear weapons program in response to a new nuclear arms race.

An international ban imposed in the 1990s prevents nuclear weapons from being tested — though North Korea has not followed the agreement.

In place of the real tests, Chinese scientists instead use high-powered gas guns that fire projectiles in the country’s main nuclear design facilities under mountains in Mianyang, southwestern Sichuan province.

China is currently creating new tactical nuclear weapons meant for close-range battles.

Tags China Nuclear arms race Nuclear Posture Review Nuclear warfare Nuclear weapon

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