Pentagon concerned about Chinese nuclear program — RT World News
The US military has warned that Beijing could have 1,500 warheads in its strategic arsenal by 2035
China is rapidly building up its nuclear weapons capabilities and is on track to nearly quadruple the number of warheads in its arsenal by 2035, narrowing its firepower gap with the United States, the Pentagon has warned.
« Over the next decade, the PRC (People’s Republic of China) aims to modernize, diversify and expand its nuclear forces, » the Pentagon said in its annual report on China’s military strength on Tuesday. The buildup is far larger and more complex than a nuclear modernization initiative undertaken by China a decade ago, the report adds.
Beijing currently has about 400 nuclear warheads, the Pentagon said, up from a previous estimate of 350. At the current rate of development, the stockpile will grow to about 1,000 warheads by the end of this decade and 1,500 by 2035. By comparison, the United States has 3,750 active warheads and a total stockpile of over 5,000.
Chinese expansion will likely be « exceed potential nuclear force developments of any adversary that could plausibly threaten the PRC’s ability to retaliate against a first strike », the Pentagon said, adding that the Chinese military aims to possess the capability of « mutually assured destruction », deter potential attackers.
US generals have repeatedly singled out China as the main threat to US national security, saying Beijing is « the only competitor with both the intent to reshape the international order and, increasingly, the power to do so. » Chinese officials pushed back against such warnings, saying Washington had a « outdated Cold War mentality and zero-sum mindset. »
US officials have expressed concern that as China’s nuclear prowess increases, the country’s leaders may rethink their policy against launching a nuclear first strike. « What we’re looking at here raises questions, I think, about their intent, » a senior defense official said at a press briefing ahead of Tuesday’s report. For its part, Washington has refused to rule out its own first-strike option or the possibility of using nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear threat.
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The Chinese Communist Party aims to achieve a « great rejuvenation » of the nation by 2049, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the PRC. This global effort will include the establishment of a « world class » military.