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World: How China's Nuclear Missile Stockpile Compares to the U.S.

Should public opinion polls influence America's nuclear policy?

  Should public opinion polls influence America's nuclear policy? Public opinion surveys show decisive majorities in favor of prohibiting nuclear weapons in a number of countries.But that poll isn't the only one of interest in this debate. A series of relatively underreported polls reveals a reality that is quite different from the headline in the Financial Times ("Allies lobby Biden to prevent shift to 'no first use' of nuclear arms"). It may be that at one time you could truthfully argue that U.S. allies favored the use of nuclear weapons to defend them. Political realists, however, must admit that whatever the case may have been in the past, those days are over.

Researchers who discovered China's new missile silo fields in the Gobi Desert have described them as the most extensive nuclear arsenal buildup since the Cold War, but also highlighted the sheer numerical difference in warheads held by China and the U.S.

Under-construction facilities believed to be nuclear missile silos are discovered in the desert of Hami, Xinjiang, China. Researchers with the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) estimate around 110 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch sites are being build within a grid approximately 300 square miles in size. Along with other known sites in China, the country's ICBM silo count reaches around 250, according to a FAS report published on July 26, 2021. © Planet Labs Inc. Under-construction facilities believed to be nuclear missile silos are discovered in the desert of Hami, Xinjiang, China. Researchers with the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) estimate around 110 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch sites are being build within a grid approximately 300 square miles in size. Along with other known sites in China, the country's ICBM silo count reaches around 250, according to a FAS report published on July 26, 2021.

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS), whose analysts found 110 under-construction launch sites in Hami in China's northern Xinjiang region this month, estimates that the country has 350 nuclear warheads. For decades, it has operated around 20 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) silos, with another 100 or so road-mobile launchers, according to Hans Kristensen and Matt Korda of the Nuclear Information Project at FAS.

China Accuses U.S. of Fueling Nuclear War 'Panic' After Official Warns of Attack

  China Accuses U.S. of Fueling Nuclear War 'Panic' After Official Warns of Attack A top Pentagon official recently warned China could soon become capable of launching a "surprise" nuclear attack against the United States. The Global Times editorial board accused the United States of creating an "unprecedented atmosphere of panic" toward China's development of nuclear weapons.The Global Times pointed to the comment John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made about the potential for China to launch a nuclear attack, as well as, claims about its nuclear weapons buildup and a recent Pentagon report.

China already has around a dozen launch facilities in Inner Mongolia. Together with those discovered in late June by experts at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS)—119 new silos in Yumen, Gansu province—it could operate approximately 250 silo-based ICBMs, exceeding Russia and more than half that of the U.S.

"The silo construction at Yumen and Hami constitutes the most significant expansion of the Chinese nuclear arsenal ever," Kristensen and Korda said in their report on Tuesday. The missile fields could increase China's launch capacity to anywhere between 415 and 875 warheads, depending on the type of ICBMs they put in the sites, if any at all.

However, FAS estimates the U.S. and Russia each have around 4,000 nuclear warheads. That figure reaches 6,257 and 5,550, respectively, if the count includes all warheads deployed, stockpiled and retired—greater than the rest of the world's nuclear power combined.

China's hypersonic missile test 'went around the world,' top US military leader says

  China's hypersonic missile test 'went around the world,' top US military leader says China's test of a hypersonic missile over the summer "went around the world," the second most senior US general said in an interview released Tuesday, shedding new details on the test and warning that China might one day be able to launch a surprise nuclear attack on the United States. © Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images The Chinese national flag is seen at the entrance to the Zhongnanhai leadership compound in Beijing on May 18, 2020. - The annual meeting of the National Peoples Congress, Chinas rubber stamp legislature, opens on May 22, after a two month delay due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

chart, bar chart: The countries with the biggest nuclear arsenals, according to estimates by the Federation of American Scientists. Statista © Statista The countries with the biggest nuclear arsenals, according to estimates by the Federation of American Scientists. Statista

Despite the rapid growth, China's stockpile still pales in comparison to those wielded by the U.S. and Russia. This may partly explain why China has so far refused to engage in arms control talks, which will inevitably involve a reduction of warheads.

A Department of Defense report released last year put China's nuclear warhead count in the low 200s, projecting that, over the next decade, the stockpile would "at least double in size as China expands and modernizes its nuclear forces."


Video: China's growing nuclear arsenal 'concerning' - U.S. (Reuters)

Ultimately, it remains unclear whether China plans to fill each of its new silos, or whether it is giving the impression of larger nuclear capabilities.

chart, histogram: U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles through the Cold War and beyond. Statista © Statista U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles through the Cold War and beyond. Statista

Reached by Newsweek on Wednesday, a Pentagon spokesperson said: "We won't speak to matters of intelligence or commercial imagery analysis. However, as was made clear in the 2020 China Military Power Report, China continues to grow their silo-based nuclear capability."

China's New Nuclear Missile Silos Confirm U.S. Defense Officials' Fears

  China's New Nuclear Missile Silos Confirm U.S. Defense Officials' Fears In July alone, researchers based in the United States have found what they believe are around 230 nuclear missile silos in the deserts of northwestern China.Nuclear arms analysts combing through satellite images of the desert plains in northwestern China have now found what they believe are 230 silo-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch sites in Yumen, Gansu, and Hami, Xinjiang, respectively.

"We specifically noted then that China had constructed an ICBM silo at one of their western training ranges smaller than China's existing CSS-4 (DF-5) silos. Additionally, numerous Defense Department leaders have testified and publicly spoken about China's growing nuclear capabilities, which we expect to double or more over the next decade. This is certainly one reason [Defense] Secretary [Lloyd] Austin has identified China as the department's pacing challenge," the spokesperson continued.

"The construction is not a surprise to us, as noted in the 2020 China Military Power Report," the statement said.

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We must eliminate nuclear weapons, but a 'No First Use' Policy is not the answer .
For the sake of our national security, I urge President Biden against declaring a “no first use” or “sole purpose” doctrine in the upcoming Nuclear Posture Review. Moulton represents the 6th District of Massachusetts and is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and he co-chaired the Future of Defense Task Force.

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