China wants to double its nuclear warheads, here's why the world should worry

Edited By: Gravitas desk WION
New Delhi, India Updated: Sep 02, 2020, 09:40 PM(IST)

File Photo Photograph:( PTI )

Story highlights

The Pentagon took notice of the situation and issued a warning, saying China wants to double its nuclear warheads

China now poses a real security challenge for policy makers, with nuclear weapons capable of hitting Taiwan, Japan, India, and the US Territory of Guam.

The Pentagon took notice of the situation and issued a warning, saying China wants to double its nuclear warheads.

In May, Hu Xijin, the Editor-in-Chief of Global Times endorsed the idea that China must have more than 1000 nuclear warheads. Looks like it struck a chord in the country as Beijing is now beefing up its nuclear arsenal.

Also read: China pressing to double its nuclear warheads within a decade: Pentagon report

In its annual report to the US Congress, The American Department of Defense better known as the Pentagon made a big revelation. It said that China wants to at least double its nuclear warhead stockpile in the next decade. China wants to master the ability to launch nuclear attacks by land, sea and air. The US believes China is close to mastering the triad.

India faces an immediate challenge

But while the US and China fight for global power, India faces an immediate security challenge. China is said to have six nuclear missiles. The most basic missile, the Dongfeng 21 has a range of almost two thousand kilometres. The Dongfeng 5 has a range of 13 thousand kilometres. With these missiles and more warheads, China can target any Indian city and beyond.

Until last year, China had a modest nuclear arsenal. Its nuclear stockpile was just two per cent of the global arsenal. China had just 290 nuclear bombs, with a few mediums to launch missiles. Reports say China had fewer than 90 launchers for its land based missiles. In comparison, the US has 400 launchers.

According to the latest estimates by the Federation of American Scientists, China now has 320 nuclear warheads and ranks fourth in the world with its stockpile.

China wants to up the ante

Chinese president Xi Jinping is working on expanding China's nuclear power. By 2015, the second artillery corps of the PLA operated China's land based nuclear and conventional missile forces. The branch was upgraded to a full military service and renamed the PLA Rocket Force.

Four years later, China unveiled the Dongfeng 41 missile. Beijing says this missile can carry upto 10 nuclear warheads, and can target the US in 30 minutes. Chinese news agency Xinhua called the Dongfeng 41 "the mainstay of China's strategic nuclear strength".

According to one estimate, if China doubles its arsenal by 2029, the PLA rocket force will be able to field as many as 24 Dongfeng 41 launchers alongside 144 nuclear warheads.

Earlier this month, a former military officer made a major claim. He said that China can counterattack with nuclear weapons within minutes indicating that China could have deployed a missile attack early warning system. A capability like this allows China to hit Indian or American targets, well before their missiles hit Chinese land.

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