China Expands Nuclear Warhead Stockpile
22:11 18.06.2018(updated 22:12 18.06.2018)
Among the United States, Russia, France, Britain and China, the top five nuclear powers, the East Asian power was the only nation to increase the total number of nuclear warheads in its arsenal in over the past year, according to a new report.
On Monday, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reported that China increased its nuclear warhead stockpile from 270 to 280, while other major nuclear powers downsized their arsenals or stood pat. SIPRI noted that while released the annual report June 18, the figures are accurate as of January 2018. "All estimates are approximate," the think tank adds.
Other nuclear powers mentioned in the report are India, with 130-140 weapons, Pakistan, with 140-150, Israel, which is estimated to have 80, and North Korea, which SIPRI estimates to have less than 10 nuclear bombs.
The United Kingdom, for its part, was the only top-5 nuclear power, according to the report, which did not take any steps to decrease its stockpile of warheads, keeping 215 such weapons in 2017 and 2018.
The two largest nuclear powers, Russia and the US, both trimmed their number of total warheads, the report states. The number of nukes in the Russian arsenal decreased from 7,000 to 6,850, while the US nuclear warhead count declined from 6,800 to 6,450.
Earlier in 2018, the official newspaper of the People's Liberation Army reported January 30 that in response to the US' "unprecedented" Nuclear Posture Review – which says that nukes could be used in retaliation to non-nuclear attacks – the Chinese military "must strengthen the reliability and trustworthiness of our nuclear deterrence and nuclear counterstrike capabilities."
In 2011, a group of Georgetown University students under the guidance of former Pentagon-official-turned-professor Phillip Karber projected that China has around 3,000 nuclear warheads in a vast underground tunnel network dubbed the "Underground Great Wall."
Their conclusion that China actually has 3,000 nukes in its possession was criticized as "ridiculous" by Gregory Kulacki of the Union of Concerned Scientists, while Hans Kristensen was skeptical of how well the students interpreted satellite imagery, Mic reported.
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