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China rapidly expanding nuclear arsenal – report

The development comes as NATO member states consider placing more nuclear arms on standby

China has been expanding its nuclear arsenal “faster than any other country” in recent months, an annual report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) says. Beijing has supposedly added 90 warheads to its inventory since January 2023.

The document does note, however, that other nuclear-armed nations have also been modernizing their weapons of mass destruction and ramping up the number of operational nuclear warheads at their disposal.

According to the SIPRI report published on Sunday, the US and Russia are by far the largest nuclear powers, possessing nearly 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons.

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However, China is “expanding its nuclear arsenal faster than any other country,” according to Hans M. Kristensen, associate senior fellow with SIPRI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Program. SIPRI’s findings indicate that Beijing’s nuclear arsenal grew from 410 to 500 warheads between January 2023 and January 2024.

A separate report by the US Department of Defense last October concluded that China “possessed more than 500 operational nuclear warheads as of May 2023 – on track to exceed previous projections.” The Pentagon predicted at the time that this number would likely exceed 1,000 by 2030.

SIPRI claims that, “for the first time, China may also now be deploying a small number of warheads on missiles during peacetime.” While Beijing allegedly has 24 nuclear warheads on high operational alert, that number stands at more than 1,700 each in the case of the US and Russia.

The report concludes that “China could potentially have at least as many intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) as either Russia or the USA by the turn of the decade, although its stockpile of nuclear warheads is still expected to remain much smaller than the stockpiles of either of those two countries.”


READ MORE: US may expand nuclear arsenal – Biden aide

In an interview with The Telegraph on Sunday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg revealed that member states were discussing the removal of more nuclear-capable missiles from storage and placing them on standby. He cited perceived threats emanating from Russia and China, insisting that the US-led military bloc needed to send a clear message regarding its own nuclear capabilities to Moscow and Beijing. 

June 17, 2024 at 02:34PM
RT

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