China, which currently holds some 230 nuclear warheads in its arsenal, is undertaking a modernisation and expansion plan to an evaluation of what is needed to pose unacceptable losses to the US in response to an American attack, according to a report.
“There is little evidence that China is very concerned with Indian nuclear forces—or with the massive nuclear arsenal of Russia, which from a technical standpoint, potentially poses a much larger threat,” said the report by Washington-based Arms Control Association.
The report titled ‘The Complex and Increasingly Dangerous Nuclear Weapons Geometry of Asia’ said China’s minimum nuclear force structure and no-first use doctrine have remained remarkably stable over time.
However, Beijing appears to size and structure its nuclear forces according to an evaluation of what is needed to pose unacceptable losses to the US in response to an American attack, it said.
“For more than two decades, the Chinese only maintained the capability to target some 20 nuclear warheads on the US, approximately one per cent of the US nuclear warheads that could be targeted on China,” it said.
Only in recent years China has begun to move toward acquiring the kind of full spectrum deterrent long deployed by Russia and the United States, it said.
“Only in the last decade did it deploy road-mobile missiles that could target the US mainland. Only last year did it start deploying multiple, independently-targetable warheads on its DF-5 intercontinental ballistic missiles; only this year is China projected to initiate sea-going patrols of its nuclear ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs),” it said.
China has repeatedly said it will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states and that it will not engage in an arms race.
China maintains that the purpose of the nuclear arsenal is to avoid “nuclear blackmail” and respond to nuclear attack.
China’s nuclear warheads have long been believed to be unmated to their delivery systems and stored in separate locations. A nuclear strike can only be ordered by China’s Central Military Commission.
China did not develop an early warning system. Some officials are now calling for the development of such system and to place the nuclear weapons on a higher state of alert.
“Beijing is undertaking a modernization and expansion of its nuclear arsenal. Over the last decade China has added more than 50 nuclear warheads to its ICBM forces capable of hitting the US mainland; within another decade, the number could well exceed 100,” the report added.