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China denies reported expansion of nuclear arsenal

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China is denying that it is quickly expanding its nuclear arsenal following a Pentagon report predicting the country could possess more than 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030, doubling previous estimates. 

Fu Cong, director-general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s arms control department, said on Tuesday that China is taking efforts to ensure that its nuclear deterrent achieves the minimum level needed to safeguard the country.

“On the assertions made by U.S. officials that China is expanding dramatically its nuclear capabilities, first, let me say that this is untrue,” Fu said at a briefing in Beijing, according to The Associated Press.

He added that China needs to ensure that its nuclear force is adequate as the security environment changes in Asia. He pointed to the U.S. mulling utilizing intermediate-range non-nuclear missiles in the area, according to the AP.

Fu’s remarks came one day after the so-called P5 countries — China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the U.S. — released a statement emphasizing that no winners emerge from nuclear wars.

“We affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” the nations wrote. “As nuclear use would have far-reaching consequences, we also affirm that nuclear weapons—for as long as they continue to exist—should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war.”

The Pentagon released a report in November that said China is growing its nuclear arsenal at a quicker rate than expected as it looks to expand its global influence.

The report predicted that Beijing intends to have 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030, including 700 “deliverable” warheads by 2027, numbers far above the Pentagon’s previous projections.

The U.S. had 3,750 nuclear warheads as of September 2020, according to State Department data released in October.

A separate report released in November by the nonpartisan research center Federation of American Scientists said China appears to be making “significant progress” in constructing missiles in the western portion of the country.

Fu on Tuesday would not corroborate the report but did say that the magnitude of China’s nuclear arsenal should not be examined by satellite images, per the AP.

He also said China would not take part in the U.S. and Russia’s nuclear arms reduction talks, which the U.S. has been advocating for, according to the AP. Instead, he urged both countries to decrease their arsenals.

“We will be happy to join if they have reduced to our level,” Fu said, according to the AP.

He added that “the two superpowers need to … drastically reduce their nuclear capabilities to a level comparable to the level of China, and for that matter to the level of France and the U.K., so that other nuclear states can join in this process.”

The director-general also urged the U.S. to nix its sanctions on Iran and called on Iran to obey its nuclear commitments, according to the AP.

The latest round of nuclear negotiations in Vienna over the Iran nuclear deal began on Monday, however the U.S. and Iran are still not talking directly. 

Tags Nuclear disarmament nuclear stockpiles
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