Recent satellite images appear to show the Chinese government constructing over 100 new silos designated for nuclear missiles, Fox News reports.
The images, captured by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) in Monterey, California and first reported by the Washington Post, depicted approximately 119 missile silos under construction, bearing resemblances to the current missile-launching apparatuses that China already operates.
And the images don’t even show the full extent of China’s latest ambitions, according to a CNS spokesperson. Jeffrey Lewis, director of CNS’s East Asia Nonproliferation Program, said that “if the silos under construction at other sites across China are added to the count, the total comes to about 145 silos under construction. We believe China is expanding its nuclear forces, in part, to maintain a deterrent that can survive a U.S. first strike in sufficient numbers to defeat U.S. missile defenses.”
Such construction would suggest that the Chinese government is looking to increase its total number of nuclear weapons from the current amount of 250 to as high as 350. Although a nearly 40 percent increase, this number would still be dwarfed by the arsenals of the United States and Russia, with the former possessing more than 5,500 nuclear warheads, and the latter having over 6,200.
However, some within the American military have sounded the alarm that the American nuclear arsenal is increasingly outdated and ill-prepared for modern threats. Admiral Charles Richard, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, claimed in testimony before Congress back in April that he “cannot deter with the leftovers from the Cold War forever in the future.” He described America’s nuclear arsenal as a “70s-era weapons system that I am going to have to employ against 2030-level threats.”
Following Admiral Richard’s testimony, three House Republicans – Congressmen Mike McCaul (R-Texas), Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), and Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) – sent a letter to Joe Biden warning him that China has “moved a portion of its nuclear force to a Launch on Washington posture and has a nuclear weapons stockpile that is expected to at least double, if not triple, or quadruple, over the next decade.”