The speed at which China is developing its nuclear arsenal is much faster than U.S. officials predicted only a year ago, according to a Pentagon report released Wednesday.
Within six years, the number of nuclear warheads under Chinese control could increase by 700 and potentially surpass 1,000 by 2030, the report said. A current number of Chinese weapons was not included in the report, but the Pentagon said the number was in the “low 200s” a year ago and was likely to double by the end of the decade.
“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.
It also touched on the potential impact on a hypothetical Chinese invasion of Taiwan, as “the PLA’s 2027 modernization goals could provide Beijing with more credible military options in a Taiwan contingency.” The report added that China’s network of overseas bases “could interfere with” U.S. military operations and support the communist country’s military operations against American forces.
The U.S. has 3,750 nuclear weapons but does not plan to build its stockpile any further, the Associated Press reported. The number represents a decrease from the 10,000 the U.S. had as recently as 2003.
The Biden administration has stated it is conducting a comprehensive review of the country’s nuclear policy, though it has stayed quiet on whether it is a response to China, according to the AP. In October, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, called China’s new hypersonic weapon “very concerning” and said it comes close to being a “Sputnik moment.”
“What we saw was a very significant event of a test of a hypersonic weapon system. And it is very concerning,” Milley said. “I don’t know if it’s quite a Sputnik moment, but I think it’s very close to that. It has all of our attention.”
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