China is rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal, Pentagon says in new report

Creator: GREG BAKER | Credit: AFP via Getty Images

This article focuses on China’s increasing nuclear capabilities.

This article is written in the light of a recent report called the China Military Power Report that was released by the Pentagon (i.e) the American defence establishment. It’s a very common exercise under which the Pentagon releases multiple reports not just on China, but also in other countries around the world, including India. This report says that China has been on a mission to increase its nuclear capability without being 100% transparent about the same. It says that the People’s Republic of China is adding multiple weapons in its artillery and is focusing on four key areas (i.e) quantitative strength, atomic yield, delivery capabilities and posture. Let’s discuss these four in detail.

First, the number of nuclear warheads that China has is on a steep increase. For instance, the report says that by the end of 2027, China would have about 700 nuclear weapons, which is about a 3½ times increase of the current strength of 200. Not just this, by the end of 2030, their nuclear stockpile will reach 1000 weapons. Just for comparison, the stockpile that America has of nuclear weapons is 3750, which is a sharp decline from the earlier stockpile. It is said that at the beginning of the 21st century, America used to have 10,000 nuclear weapons, which they have decreased to 3750, and they are not planning to increase it anytime soon.

Secondly, China is also working to develop low yield weapons so that they can be used in a face to face war with little collateral damage, meaning that they are developing nuclear bombs that would be smaller in size, that would be much easier to control and would be helpful in hitting pinpoint targets. Just like India uses Pokhran as its nuclear test facility, China uses a place called Lop Nur as its nuclear facility. Over the past few years, China has declined access to this nuclear facility to inspectors from around the world, which is raising questions about China’s intentions, specifically with regard to the low yield weapons.

Thirdly, China has been adding a lot of new missiles to its artillery. For example, the recently released a DF-26 ballistic missile, which is an intermediate-range ballistic missile. China also developed the JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missiles with a range of 72,000 kilometres, making it an intercontinental ballistic missile. Just for comparison, India’s largest range ballistic missile is Agni-V with a range of 5000 kilometres.

Not just this, China is moving towards a launch on warning nuclear systems.

Now, what does this mean?

Launch on warning means if China’s systems get a warning that another country has launched nuclear weapons towards China. Even before those weapons hit China, China would already launch its nuclear weapons, this is called launch on warning. Even if it is a false warning that the systems identify themselves, even then, the weapons would launch themselves. That is why it is extremely dangerous. This makes the possibility of a machine error much higher, and that is why the world is concerned regarding this.

Not just this, during the COVID 19 pandemic, when the entire world was running towards making medical supplies, China added two new types of weapons (i.e) type 094 nuclear powered ballistic submarines to their already extremely strong fleet. Now, this allows us to look beyond this and see how China has been increasing its influence in the global world.

Now, we can see, how China is increasing its influence in global institutions by making use of its money power.

In the past decade, China’s contribution to many global organizations has increased considerably, which has allowed China to gain the support of many not so powerful nations. As of 2020, China was the largest contributor in UNESCO, 2nd largest contributor in WHO, and even in the other organizations, it has been increasing its strength by giving a lot more money as compared to earlier, thus attracting smaller countries towards its own influence. This also allows us a chance to revisit the concept of no first use policy.

No first use policy simply means that a nuclear country says that we will not be the first one to use nuclear weapons. We will only use them when we are attacked by some other country. The interesting part is China right now is the only nuclear-armed country in the world to actually have a no first use policy. Even India’s own no first use policy has certain conditions (i.e) India’s no first use policy says that if India is attacked with a chemical or a biological weapon, even then we would be willing to use our nuclear weapons, although this is only a policy on paper. 

So, for example, if China tomorrow fires the first nuclear weapon against any country, you can’t hold China accountable in any court because it is a voluntary announcement made on their behalf. Same as with India, the reason why India follows a no first use policy is it allows us to have a much better image at the international level and allows us to have a lot of exceptions when it comes to dealing with nuclear material without signing treaties such as the NPT. Other nations such as France, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, the UK or even the US have not adopted any no first use policy. There was a debate a few months back when India’s defence minister, Rajnath Singh, said that although right now we have the no first use policy, the future of the policy will depend on the circumstances. However, India has not made any announcement of changing this policy to date.

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Hi, I am Vishnu, and I have been a blogger for more than 2 years now; and I will provide some knowledgeable current international news to my readers.


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