World How China's Nuclear Missile Stockpile Compares to the U.S.
China's nuclear and military buildup raises the risk of conflict in Asia
It was already a dangerous race: China versus the United States, each pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into missiles, submarines, warplanes and ships, vying to dominate the Indo-Pacific. Now that race may be going nuclear.That race may now go nuclear.
Researchers who discovered's new missile silo fields in the Gobi Desert have described them as the most extensive nuclear arsenal buildup since the Cold War, but also highlighted the sheer numerical difference in warheads held by China and the U.S.
The Federation of American Scientists (FAS), whose analysts found 110 under-construction launch sites in Hami in China's northernregion this month, estimates that the country has 350 nuclear warheads. For decades, it has operated around 20 (ICBM) silos, with another 100 or so road-mobile launchers, according to Hans Kristensen and Matt Korda of the Nuclear Information Project at FAS.
The folly of a no-first-use nuclear policy
Perversely, adopting a no-first-use nuclear policy might well have the unintended consequence of increasing the likelihood of war. That is not to say that there would be no point to the Biden administration issuing a so-called "sole purpose" declaration. Unlike a declaratory policy of NFU, which would prohibit the use of nuclear weapons except in response to a nuclear attack on the U.S., a sole purpose declaration would state why the United States possesses nuclear weapons, without necessarily imposing constraints on their use.
China already has around a dozen launch facilities in Inner Mongolia. Together with those discovered in late June by experts at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS)—119 new silos in Yumen, Gansu province—it could operate approximately 250 silo-based ICBMs, exceedingand more than half that of the U.S.
"The silo construction at Yumen and Hami constitutes the most significant expansion of the Chinese nuclear arsenal ever," Kristensen and Korda said in their report on Tuesday. The missile fields could increase China's launch capacity to anywhere between 415 and 875 warheads, depending on the type of ICBMs they put in the sites, if any at all.
However, FAS estimates the U.S. and Russia each have around 4,000 nuclear warheads. That figure reaches 6,257 and 5,550, respectively, if the count includes all warheads deployed, stockpiled and retired—greater than the rest of the world's nuclear power combined.
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Experts discuss with Newsweek what would happen next if China invades Taiwan.After Texas Senator John Cornyn warned Congress this week that a hostile takeover of the democratic island—and its 23.5 million people—would be the first step in the China's quest for world supremacy, experts discussed with Newsweek wider implications for the United States and a postwar Asian regional order that has held for more than seven decades.
Despite the rapid growth, China's stockpile still pales in comparison to those wielded by the U.S. and Russia. This may partly explain why China has so far refused to engage in arms control talks, which will inevitably involve a reduction of warheads.
A Department of Defense report released last year put China's nuclear warhead count in the low 200s, projecting that, over the next decade, the stockpile would "at least double in size as China expands and modernizes its nuclear forces."
Video: China's growing nuclear arsenal 'concerning' - U.S. (Reuters)
Ultimately, it remains unclear whether China plans to fill each of its new silos, or whether it is giving the impression of larger nuclear capabilities.
Reached by Newsweek on Wednesday, aspokesperson said: "We won't speak to matters of intelligence or commercial imagery analysis. However, as was made clear in the 2020 China Military Power Report, China continues to grow their silo-based nuclear capability."
Congress must not let Biden bungle nuclear posture review
The Biden administration’s ongoing Nuclear Posture Review is extraordinarily consequential. © Provided by Washington Examiner Unlike previous NPRs, which assessed a bipolar Moscow-Washington contest, the 2021 edition must establish a nuclear doctrine to confront Beijing’s rising threat and increasingly dangerous Iranian and North Korean capabilities. This convoluted scenario is continually evolving, as external threat levels and sources multiply rapidly.
"We specifically noted then that China had constructed an ICBM silo at one of their western training ranges smaller than China's existing CSS-4 (DF-5) silos. Additionally, numerous Defense Department leaders have testified and publicly spoken about China's growing nuclear capabilities, which we expect to double or more over the next decade. This is certainly one reason [Defense] Secretary [Lloyd] Austin has identified China as the department's pacing challenge," the spokesperson continued.
"The construction is not a surprise to us, as noted in the 2020 China Military Power Report," the statement said.
We must eliminate nuclear weapons, but a 'No First Use' Policy is not the answer .
For the sake of our national security, I urge President Biden against declaring a “no first use” or “sole purpose” doctrine in the upcoming Nuclear Posture Review. Moulton represents the 6th District of Massachusetts and is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and he co-chaired the Future of Defense Task Force.