In about a decade, China is likely to have some 1,000 deliverable nuclear warheads, says a Pentagon report, which has got the US government worried.
The Asian giant is catching up with Uncle Sam faster than anticipated. By Pentagon’s own admission, the 1,000 warhead estimate means China has accelerated the nuclear race by two-and-a-half times of its prediction just a year ago. On the other hand, the US has over 3,750 nuclear weapons.
While it is known that China is modernizing its military on a wide front, the US Defence Department report tries to bring the focus on Asian economic powerhouse’s nuclear advances.
The Pentagon report, submitted by the US Department of Defence to Congress, said that China could have 700 deliverable nuclear warheads by 2027 and reach 1,000 by 2030. A year back, Pentagon had said China has only 200 warheads.
China is expanding its nuclear capability by increasing the number of its land-, sea-, and air-based nuclear delivery platforms and readying infrastructure required to support this expansion, the report stated.
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Pentagon said that China wants to build a “nuclear triad”, following the track of US and Russia — world’s two most powerful nuclear nations. The triad can deliver nuclear weapons from land-based ballistic missiles, from missiles launched from the air, and from submarines, news agency AFP reported.
The US does not see China’s nuclear expansion as a direct threat to its own security, but as an effort to prepare itself better for retaliatory attack. However, a US defence official said the development is “very concerning”. The official said it “raises questions about their (China’s) intentions” and asked for more transparency from Beijing over its nuclear force development. The US sees it as China’s efforts to pursue a network of overseas bases that “could interfere with” US military operations in future.
The US is definitely looking at this development as an attempt on part of the People’s Liberation Army of China to challenge US supremacy over land, see, air and cyberspace security.
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“The PLA’s evolving capabilities and concepts continue to strengthen [China’s] ability to ‘fight and win wars’ against a ‘strong enemy’ – a likely euphemism for the United States,” the report said.
While the US’ worry is palpable, the fact remains that it is way ahead of others in piling nuclear weapons. As per the latest estimate, the US has about 3,750 nuclear weapons. However, the Biden administration is in the process of reviewing its nuclear policy.