US fears soar over China nuclear buildup after new report reveals plans for 110 new silos

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And one US Congressman has warned Beijing’s nuclear build-up was “unprecedented” – and represented a clear threat to the West. The Federation of American Federation (FAS) dossier, published on Monday said satellite images showed China was building a new field of 110 silos near Hami in the eastern part of its Xinjiang region.

The report came weeks after another on the construction of about 120 missile silos in Yumen, a desert area about 240 miles (380 km) to the southeast.

In a tweet linked to a New York Times article on the AFS report, US Strategic Command said: “This is the second time in two months the public has discovered what we have been saying all along about the growing threat the world faces and the veil of secrecy that surrounds it.”

Earlier this month, the State Department called China’s nuclear buildup concerning, accusing China’s President Xi Jinping of deviating from decades of nuclear strategy based around minimal deterrence.

It called on China to engage with it “on practical measures to reduce the risks of destabilising arms races.”

Republican Representative Mike Turner, the ranking member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, said China’s “unprecedented” nuclear build-up made clear it was “deploying nuclear weapons to threaten the United States and our allies.”

China’s refusal to negotiate arms control “should be a cause for concern and condemned by all responsible nations,” Mr Turner added.

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Another Republican, Mike Rogers, ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the Chinese build-up emphasised the need to rapidly modernise the US nuclear deterrent.

A 2020 Pentagon report estimated China’s nuclear warhead stockpile was in “the low 200s” – but this figure is projected to have at least double in size as Beijing expands and modernises its forces.

Analysts say the United States has around 3,800 warheads, and according to a State Department factsheet, 1,357 of those were deployed as of March 1.

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Washington has repeatedly called on China to join it and Russia in a new arms control treaty.

The FAS report states: “It should be emphasised that it is unknown how China will operate the new silos and how many warheads each missile will carry.

“Regardless, the silo construction represents a significant increase of the Chinese arsenal, which the Federation of American Scientists currently estimates includes approximately 350 nuclear warheads.

“The Pentagon stated last year that China had ‘an operational nuclear warhead stockpile in low-200s,’ and STRATCOM commander Admiral Charles Richard said early this year that ‘China’s nuclear weapons stockpile is expected to double (if not triple or quadruple) over the next decade.’

“The new silos could allow China to accomplish this goal, if it is indeed the goal.”

The report comes at a time when Assistant Secretary of State Wendy Sherman is due to hold arms control talks with Russia in Geneva on Wednesday.

Ms Sherman was in China earlier this week for talks at which Beijing accused Washington of creating an “imaginary enemy” to divert attention from domestic problems and suppress China.

Beijing says its arsenal is dwarfed by those of the United States and Russia and it is ready to conduct bilateral dialogues on strategic security “on the basis of equality and mutual respect”.

Speaking earlier this week, Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said relations would deteriorate further if the US attempted to “subvert the path and system of socialism” with Chinese characteristics, “obstructed China’s development process” or “damage China’s territorial integrity” in a likely reference to Hong Kong and Taiwan.

He warned: “The great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has entered an irreversible historical process, which cannot be held back by any force or country.”

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