China’s nuclear stockpile increased to 360 warheads, significantly higher than the estimate from the U.S. Defense Department, Nuclear Information Project says
While the rest of the world is busy fighting the coronavirus pandemic, the Chinese government has secretly been working to boost its nuclear stockpile. In a paper published by the Chicago, Illinois-based Bulletin, Atomic Scientists estimated that China has 350 nuclear warheads, a number that significantly higher than the estimate from the U.S. Defense Department.
The report, which was written by Hans Kristensen, the director at the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, and Matt Korda, a research associate at FAS, arrived at the number by counting both operational warheads and newer weapons “still in development.”
In the report published on December 7, the think tank said:
“We estimate that China has a produced a stockpile of approximately 350 nuclear warheads, of which roughly 272 are for delivery by more than 240 operational land-based ballistic missiles, 48 sea-based ballistic missiles, and 20 nuclear gravity bombs assigned to bombers. The remaining 78 warheads are intended to arm additional land- and sea-based missiles that are in the process of being fielded.”
The atomic scientists said the estimate is higher than the “low-200” warheads reported by the Pentagon in its 2020 report to Congress. “However, the Pentagon’s estimate only refers to “operational” Chinese nuclear warheads, and therefore presumably excludes warheads that are attributed to newer weapons still in development (US Defense Department 2020a),” the authors said in the paper.
At the start of 2019, there was a total of 13,865 warheads in existence owned by nine nations: the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea.
According to the report, the weapons include hypersonic missiles, silo-based and road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles, and their submarine-launched equivalents, bringing the total number of nuclear warheads to more than the “low 200s.”