Pentagon report: China doubles nuclear stockpile in two years

2022-12-01 18:36:50Kosova&Bota SHKRUAR NGA CARLA BABB
China doubles nuclear arsenal in two years

The pace of increasing China's nuclear capabilities could enable Beijing to have a stockpile of about 1,500 nuclear warheads by 2035, according to the Pentagon's annual "China's Military Power" report delivered to Congress on Tuesday.

A new Pentagon report says China has more than 400 nuclear warheads, doubling its nuclear arsenal in just two years.

The report also said Beijing launched approximately 135 ballistic missiles for testing and training last year, "more than the rest of the world combined," if ballistic missiles launched in conflict zones such as Ukraine are excluded.

"If you look at the capability and the capacity of China's missile arsenal, it takes your breath away," says Bradley Bowman with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

The Pentagon calls China its growing challenge.

"China is the only country that geopolitically has the power potential to be a significant challenge to the United States, and they are," said General Mark Milley, the head of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.

According to the report, China has stepped up what the Pentagon calls "unsafe" and "unprofessional" military actions against the US and its allies in the region.

Especially, as defense analyst Bradley Bowman points out, toward the democratic island of Taiwan.

"They have refused to give up the option of military force against Taiwan, they have clearly refused to do so, and they are acting like a country that is preparing to launch a potential attack against Taiwan."

According to the Pentagon, an attack remains a possibility, although it does not appear to be imminent, despite recent aggressive postures.

"As the report points out, we do not believe it is an imminent attack," says General Pat Ryder.

Another senior defense official told reporters that China has created a new normal around Taiwan in terms of military activity.

Shortly after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan in August, China increased drills, missile launches and military activity in the strait.

Those were eventually scaled back, but are still routine, the official said, rather than reserved for rare occasions, as was China's practice before the visit.

Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe told US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Cambodia last week that Beijing regards Taiwan as a "red line".

And this aggression has continued in areas such as the South China Sea, where the aircraft carrier USS Chancellorsville completed an operation in support of free passage in international waters. Half of the tonnage of international trade goods with a value of trillions of dollars passes through this area every year.

“I know there have been some reports that China basically took our ship out of the area. This is not true. Again, we will continue to sail, fly and operate wherever international law allows," said General Pat Ryder.

China claims a large part of the sea as its territory and has ignored an international court ruling that says Beijing has no ownership over the South China Sea./ VOA