The United States military is issuing a warning about what analysts have described as a significant expansion of China’s nuclear missile silo fields at a time when tensions between Beijing and Washington have risen significantly.
The discovery of a field in the Xinjiang region is the second such discovery this summer. According to specialists at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in California, another field under development in the neighbouring province of Gansu was discovered in June of this year.
The Chinese government has not responded to the reports. After being questioned about the most recent incident, the Foreign Ministry stated on Friday that it was unaware of the issue.
At a time when relations between the United States and China have deteriorated to their worst level in decades, the reports are particularly concerning. Trade, technology, cybersecurity, human rights, and China’s increasingly assertive foreign policy under President Xi Jinping are just a few of the areas on which the two countries are at loggerheads.
The growth of China’s nuclear arsenal would almost certainly be taken into consideration by the United States in the event of a military confrontation over flashpoints such as Taiwan or the South China Sea.
Global Times newspaper’s outspoken editor claimed this week that the United States’ institutions and media are exaggerating claims about China’s missile bases in order to exert pressure on the country, but that China should not be intimidated by such reports.
Look at what American politicians are saying about China, and look at the provocative actions taken by their bombers and vessels near Chinese territory, Hu Xijin said in a statement. “As the cornerstone of its national security, China must accelerate the development of its military force and nuclear deterrence,” said the United States.
Both sites cover an area of approximately 800 square kilometres (300 square miles). Ground-based silos have the capability of storing intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). The fact that the silos are dispersed across such a large area makes it considerably more difficult to target the field. Some of the silos, according to analysts, may also be used as decoys.
In a report for the Federation of American Scientists, researchers Matt Korda and Hans Kristensen wrote, “The Chinese missile silo programme represents the most extensive silo construction since the United States and Soviet missile silo construction during the Cold War.” They cited a report by the Federation of American Scientists.
Kuo Yu-jen, a defence studies expert at Taiwan’s Institute for National Policy Research, said it’s extremely difficult to get an accurate count of a country’s underground missile silos, but that recently released satellite imagery looks “very, very similar” to missile silos. Kuo Yu-jen is a defence studies expert at the Institute for National Policy Research.
He described the findings as a warning from the United States to others that China, in advancing its nuclear weapon capabilities, is breaching an international agreement aimed at nuclear disarmament and should be held accountable.
This is also to inform Russia of our intentions. According to Kuo, the head of the Institute for National Policy Research in Taiwan, if China expands its number of missiles, it will endanger not just the United States but also Russia and European countries as well.
Talks between the United States and Russia, which have the world’s greatest nuclear arsenals, ended in a stalemate this week in Geneva in an attempt to avert a new nuclear arms race.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, China’s nuclear arsenal contains 350 warheads, whereas the United States and Russia each have over 6,000 warheads. According to the Pentagon, China will at the very least increase the size of its arsenal in the next ten years.
After discovering 11 underground missile silos at a massive missile training range in Jilantai in north-central China in February, Kristensen conducted further study and discovered a second underground missile silo.