Pentagon says China planning big increase in nuclear arsenal
September 2, 2020 - China is expected to double its stockpile of nuclear warheads in the next decade and appears to be close to completing a so-called “nuclear triad” – the ability to launch nuclear strikes by land, air and sea – according to the Pentagon.
In its annual report to Congress on China’s military, the Pentagon said that China has nuclear warheads in the low 200s, the first time the U.S. military has disclosed this number, Reuters said.
The Federation of American Scientists has estimated that China has about 320 nuclear warheads.
Even with an increase, 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. Unlike the U.S., China has no nuclear air force, but the report said that gap may be filled by developing a nuclear air-launched ballistic missile.
The Trump administration has been urging China to join the U.S. and Russia in negotiating a three-way deal to limit strategic nuclear arms, but China has declined. Chinese Foreign Ministry officials have said China’s arsenal is too small to be included in negotiated limits and that by pressing China to join in such talks the Trump administration has created a pretext for walking away from the existing U.S.-Russia arms treaty known as New START. That deal is due to expire in February but could be renewed for up to five years if Moscow and Washington agree.