China is expected to double number of nuclear warheads

The Federation of American Scientists has estimated that China has about 320 nukes

DF-26 missile DF-26 missiles at a military parade in Tiananmen Gate in Beijing | China's Ministry of National Defense

A Pentagon report has revealed that China is expected to double its nuclear warheads over the next 10 years from an estimated figure in the 200s. The country is now nearing the capability to launch nuclear attacks by land, sea and air—a capability known as a triad.

The annual report to Congress on China's military marks the first time it has put a number to China's nuclear warheads, CNN reported. The Federation of American Scientists has estimated that China has about 320 nuclear warheads.

The report comes amid US Congress debates on the pending $700 billion defence authorisation bill and tension between the two countries over various issues, ranging from China not being transparent regarding the origin of the coronavirus to China’s claims over the South China Sea.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for China Chad Sbragia said the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is “not intended to be merely a showpiece of Chinese modernity”, but a tool of Chinese statecraft.

According to the report, China, in October 2019, publicly revealed the H-6N bomber as its first nuclear-capable bomber equipped with aerial refuelling capability. The US has constantly said that it wished to expand an Obama-era nuclear arms control treaty between the US and Russia to include China instead of simply extending the pact, known as New START, when it expires in February.

China has shown no interest in being part of the pact.

According to the New START treaty, there’s a limit of 1,550 nuclear warheads between Russia and the US on deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles, deployed submarine-launched ballistic missiles and deployed heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments.

China "has more than 1,250 ground-launched ballistic missiles (GLBMs) and ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometres," the Pentagon report said.

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