Pentagon report details China's fast-growing nuclear arsenal


Oct. 19 (UPI) -- The Pentagon warns in a new report released Thursday that China has at least 500 nuclear warheads in its arsenal, 100 more than last year, and well over previous projections.

China is expanding its Navy and producing additional weapons, according to The Defense Department's China Military Power Report, which has grown to more than 370 ships from 340 a year ago, the report said, and leaps and bounds ahead of where the country was 10 years ago.

"What they're doing now, if you compare it to what they were doing about a decade ago, it really far exceeds that in terms of scale and complexity," the official told Politico, and who was granted anonymity to speak about the report.

"They're expanding and investing in their land, sea and air-based nuclear delivery platforms, as well as the infrastructure that's required to support this quite major expansion of their nuclear forces," the official said.

Defense officials also believe China has finished the construction of its three new fields for solid-fuel missile silos, including at least 300 new intercontinental ballistic missile silos.

They think China has loaded "at least some" ICBMs into the silos, according to the report.

Beijing's nuclear stockpile remains much smaller than either Russia's or that in the United States.

Russia had 5,889 nuclear warheads; the United States had 5,244, according to the independent Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in its figures released in January. China has used those figures as ammunition against engaging in talks with either country, contending that the U.S. and Russia's arsenals are much larger than theirs.

As the country grows in prominence, China has quickly modernized its military and is using it to create the perception of power across the Pacific region and worldwide, which improves its ability to operate on all military fronts, including traditional land, air and sea confrontations, but also as well as nuclear, cyber and space battles that could play out, as well.

The Defense report comes at a time when tensions are high as the Biden administration prepares for a one-on-one meeting between Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping in California in November.