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China has doubled its nuclear arsenal, Stratcom says

Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Michel Temer/Flickr)
August 09, 2019

China has doubled its nuclear arsenal and will double it again in the next 10 years, top U.S. Strategic Command (Stratcom) officials stated last week.

Rear Admiral Michael Brookes, director of intelligence for Stratcom, said in a press briefing at the Deterrence Symposium in Omaha that the modernization of China nuclear forces is a concern, The Washington Free Beacon reported.

“China has long had a no-first-use policy, and yet they’ve doubled their nuclear arsenal in about the last decade, and they’re on track to double it again in the next decade,” Brookes said.

“It’s a little bit concerning the breathtaking pace of change with regard to their arsenal,” he added.

Vice Adm. David Kriete, the head of Stratcom, also said that China is aggressively expanding its nuclear forces.

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“China is and has been for the last couple of decades on a very clear trajectory where they’re increasing the numbers of nuclear weapons that they field, they’re increasing the number of and diversity of the delivery systems,” Kriete said. “They are working on fielding a triad—ballistic missile submarines, strategic bombers and land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles.”

“When it comes to the no-first-use policy, I have read about this no-first-use policy,” he added. “Beyond that statement, they don’t talk much about it, so I’m not exactly sure what it is.”

The admiral said that the nuclear proliferation of China ought to be viewed within the context of China’s regional and global expansion, saying the country’s nuclear expansion is part of a larger effort to expand power over Asia and globally.

“China’s leadership has made it clear in recent years that they have goals of becoming a regional power and exerting—economic and military—over the western Pacific at some point in the future,” he said. “And then obtaining some level of global influence at some point after that.”

China has been rapidly expanding its military capabilities, including aggressive espionage against the United States and boosting military exercises.

Despite this, Adm. Kriete expressed his interest in keeping peace with the Chinese and explained his desire not to go to war with them, while adding the United States needs to be ready for one, just in case.

“We really want a peaceful coexistence in a lot of places around the world, and I think there are ways to achieve that,” he said. “The strength that we show through our military force in the region and really domestically back home is an important part of that face that we show to China and other countries around the world.”

The Trump Administration has stated previously that it wants to include China in either a three-way or bilateral nuclear arms agreement, with the other country being Russia, according to the Beacon.