A recent Pentagon analysis details the nuclear capability of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which is planning to have more than 200 nuclear warheads with the potential to reach U.S. territory in the next five years.
During a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, Chad L.Sbragia, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for China, mentioned the findings presented in a Defense Department report titled: “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China–2020.”
“Over the next decade, China’s nuclear warhead stockpile, currently estimated at about 200, is projected to at least double in size as China expands and modernizes its nuclear forces,” Sbragia said.
“The report [also] notes that China is expanding, modernizing and diversifying its nuclear forces across the board,” he added.
The official warned that the CCP could attack the United States using a “nuclear triad,” strategy. Developing their atomic arsenal in three prongs—land-based missiles (silo-based), projectiles carried by strategic bombers, and SLBM-type rockets carried by nuclear submarines.
According to International Business Time, a nuclear triad would mean that China would have to expand its fleet of ballistic submarines and deploy more capable and longer-range sea-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).
It would also have to complete the development of more mobile ICBMs and expand silo-based ICBMs’ capability.
The document also warns that China’s nuclear forces could evolve considerably over the next decade as it modernizes, diversifies, and increases its land, sea, and air nuclear supply platforms.
The risks of the CCP expanding its nuclear capacity unrestricted by any treaty keeps the United States on edge. The United States has tried over the years to include Beijing in the New START nuclear weapons treaty it has with Russia, without success.
“We’re certainly concerned about the numbers … but also just the trajectory of China’s nuclear developments writ large,” said Sbragia.
According to Kingston Reif, director of disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association’s defense group, the gradual growth of China’s nuclear arsenal “further reinforces the importance of extending New START and the folly of conditioning extension on China and China’s participation in arms control.”
Reuters cites reports from the Federation of American Scientists indicate that China has a nuclear arsenal representing a fraction of that of the United States, which has 3,800 nuclear warheads in storage, while Russia has approximately 4,300.