US predicts China could have 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030

Nov 4, 2021: China is expanding its nuclear arsenal much quicker than anticipated, narrowing the gap with the United States, the Pentagon said in a report published.

China could have 700 deliverable nuclear warheads by 2027, and could top 1,000 by 2030 – an arsenal two-and-a-half times the size of what the Pentagon predicted only a year ago, according to the report published on Wednesday.

In contrast, the United States has about 3,750 nuclear weapons and has no plans to increase them according to the Pentagon. As recently as 2003, the total number of American warheads was about 10,000.

China is investing in and expanding the number of its nuclear delivery platforms based on land, sea and air, and building the necessary infrastructure to support this massive expansion of its nuclear capabilities. That’s according to the Pentagon’s annual report to Congress on China’s military progress.

It says that, like the United States and Russia, two major nuclear powers, China is building a “nuclear triad” that provides nuclear weapons from surface-to-air ballistic missiles, air-to-air missiles and submarines.

The report said China is likely not seeking a capability to launch an unprovoked nuclear strike on a nuclear-armed adversary, primarily the US, but wanted to deter attacks from others by maintaining a credible threat of nuclear retaliation.

A year ago, the Pentagon’s China report said the country had about 200 deliverable warheads and would double that by 2030.

Independent researchers have in recent months published satellite photographs of new nuclear missile silos in western China.

The Pentagon has declared China its principal security concern for the future, as Beijing undertakes to build the People’s Liberation Army into “world-class forces” by 2049, according to its official plan.

China is expanding its air, space and sea forces with the aim of projecting its power globally, much as the US military has for decades.

The rivalry has increased concerns about a possible clash between the US and China, especially over Taiwan, which China claims as its territory but which is closely supported by the US.

By 2027, the report says, China aims to have “the capabilities to counter the US military in the Indo-Pacific region, and compel Taiwan’s leadership to the negotiation table on Beijing’s terms”.

The report also asserted that China has begun construction of at least three new missile fields that “cumulatively contain hundreds” of underground silos from which ICBMs could be launched.

The report provided no details on the new missile fields, but private nuclear analysts have reported that satellite imagery shows what appear to be vast new missile silo fields under construction in north-central China. One of those facilities, they said, is a complex in the mountains surrounded by what appear to be four tunnels into underground facilities. The tunnels are under construction and there are large amounts of excavated soil dumped nearby. This facility’s function is unknown but “could potentially involve missile and/or warhead storage and management,” the analysts said.

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