Defense

China expanding nuclear arsenal faster than expected: Pentagon report

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China is expanding its nuclear arsenal faster than expected as it seeks to build global influence, the Pentagon said in a report released Wednesday.

The report stated that Beijing likely intends to have 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030, including 700 “deliverable” warheads by 2027, far outpacing the Defense Department’s previous estimates.

China is strengthening its “ability to ‘fight and win wars’ against a ‘strong enemy’ [a likely euphemism for the United States], coerce Taiwan and rival claimants in territorial disputes, counter an intervention by a third party in a conflict along the PRC’s periphery, and project power globally,” reads the analysis titled “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China.” 

Last month, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, raised concerns about China’s apparent testing of hypersonic weapons, calling it “very close” to a “Sputnik moment.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. has also been concerned about recent China provocations against Taiwan, which it sees as part of its territory. Beijing flew nearly 150 warplanes into Taiwan’s air identification zone last month. 

It was unclear from Wednesday’s report exactly how many nuclear warheads that China has on hand. However, the Pentagon predicted last year that Beijing’s stockpile was in the low 200s and was projected to at least double over the next decade.

By comparison, the United States had 3,750 nuclear warheads as of September 2020, according to data from the State Department released in early October.

The report also found that China is developing new intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and has “commenced building at least three solid-fueled ICBM silo fields,” which will contain hundreds of silos. 

A separate report from the Federation of American Scientists released Tuesday revealed that China had been constructing facilities near the cities of Yumen, Hami and Ordos that appeared to be missile silos. China has not confirmed or denied that the facilities are silos.

Tags China Intercontinental ballistic missile Mark Milley Military science Nuclear strategy Nuclear warfare nuclear warheads

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