China ramps up nuclear capability as it begins construction on second atomic base

South China Sea conflict would be 'disastrous' says Hayton

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The new silo complex pictured in the country’s far western region of Xinjiang rivals US and Russian construction projects seen during the Cold War, experts have said. The project encompasses an area of about 800 sq km in the desert near the city of Hami.

The new silo complex is being constructed around 240 miles from another silo development spotted a few weeks ago near the city of Yumen.

Commenting on the images, Matt Korda and Hans Kristensen, researchers at the Federation of American Scientists, told the New York Times the sites represent “the most significant expansion of the Chinese nuclear arsenal ever.”

They said: “The number of new Chinese silos under construction exceeds the number of silo-based ICBMs operated by Russia, and constitutes more than half of the size of the entire US ICBM force.

“The Chinese missile silo programme constitutes the most extensive silo construction since the US and Soviet missile silo construction during the Cold War.”

The satellite images suggest around 110 silos could be built at Hami and another 120 at Yumen.

Researchers said the developments would increase the amount of potential known ICBM fixed launch points in China by around tenfold.

However, while the new silo complex poses a huge threat to China’s enemies, experts say the silos don’t necessarily have to be filled with nukes.

Vipin Narang, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who specializes in nuclear strategy, told the Indian Express: “Just because you build the silos doesn’t mean you have to fill them all with missiles.

“They can move them around.”

Images of the new potential nuclear launch facilities come within weeks of China’s threat to bomb Japan should they interfere with Taiwan.

In a spine-chilling video released by a CCP controlled TV channel, a PLA military spokesperson said: “When we liberate Taiwan, if Japan dares to intervene by force, even if it only deploys one soldier, one plane and one ship, we will not only return reciprocal fire but also start a full-scale war against Japan.

“We will use nuclear bombs first.

“We will use nuclear bombs continuously until Japan declares unconditional surrender for the second time.”

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In 1964, China declared its ‘No first use’ (NFU) policy – promising not to use nuclear weapons as a means of warfare unless first attacked by another adversary using nuclear weapons.

The NFU policy also prohibits China from dropping weapons of mass destruction on countries not equipped with nuclear weapons.

Japan does not own any nuclear weapons of its own but supports the potential use of US nuclear weapons on its behalf.

By contrast, NATO has rejected calls to adopt an NFU policy under the argument that a ’pre-emptive nuclear strike’ is a key option.

Earlier this month, Chinese president Xi Jinping warned foreign nations will “get their heads bashed bloody” if they attempt to interfere with China.

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