The updated estimate marks a dramatic increase from the projection reported in last year's China Military Power report, which placed the tally around 400 warheads within a decade.
"Over the next decade, the PRC aims to modernize, diversify and expand its nuclear forces," the Pentagon warned in a congressionally mandated report, referring to the People's Republic of China.
"The PRC is investing in, and expanding, the number of its land, sea and air-based nuclear delivery platforms and constructing the infrastructure necessary to support this major expansion of its nuclear forces," the report said, adding that China has begun building at least three intercontinental ballistic missile silo facilities.
China's growing arsenal is still dwarfed by the United States and Russia who own the lion's share of the world's nuclear weapons. The American stockpile stands at approximately 3,750 nuclear warheads.
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The report also raises concerns over Beijing's increasingly aggressive behavior toward Taiwan.
"Although the PRC publicly advocates for peaceful unification with Taiwan, the PRC has never renounced the use of military force; the circumstances under which the PRC has historically indicated it would consider using force remain ambiguous and have evolved over time," the Pentagon's report said.
The report added that China possesses "a range of options for military campaigns against Taiwan," including potential air and maritime blockades to a full-scale amphibious invasion.
China expanding nuclear arsenal faster than expected: Pentagon report
China is expanding its nuclear arsenal faster than expected as it seeks to build global influence, the Pentagon said in a report released Wednesday.The report stated that Beijing likely intends to have 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030, including 700 "deliverable" warheads by 2027, far outpacing the Defense Department's previous estimates.China is strengthening its "ability to 'fight and win wars' against a 'strong enemy' [a likely euphemism forThe report stated that Beijing likely intends to have 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030, including 700 "deliverable" warheads by 2027, far outpacing the Defense Department's previous estimates.
Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed that Beijing would seek peaceful "reunification" with Taiwan.
"The historical task of the complete reunification of the motherland must be fulfilled and will definitely be fulfilled," Xi said in an October 8 address.
Earlier on Wednesday, the nation's highest military officer told an audience at the Aspen Security Forum that he believed it was unlikely the Chinese Communist Party would seize Taiwan within the next few years.
"Based on my analysis of China, I don't think that it is likely in the near future," U.S. Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Aspen Security Forum.
"Having said that, though, the Chinese are clearly and unambiguously building the capability to provide those options to the national leadership if they so choose at some point in the future. But near future? Probably not. But anything can happen," Milley added.
Overnight Defense & National Security — Pentagon works to evacuate US troops' families .
It's Monday, welcome to Overnight Defense & National Security, your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup. The Pentagon is moving to help family members of U.S. troops still in Afghanistan to evacuate.We'll share details of the effort plus worrying military movements in Russia along its border with Ukraine and recent satellite images that show China has built Navy ship mock-ups for possible target practice.For The Hill, I'm Ellen Mitchell. Write to me with tips: [email protected]'s get to it.