China on Thursday responded to a report published by the Pentagon that claimed Beijing’s nuclear arsenal could grow from about 200 warheads to 1,000 by 20230, a significant increase from earlier US estimates.
“The Defense Department report, just like similar reports in the past, disregards facts and is filled with bias. The US is using this report to hype up the ‘China nuclear threat’ theory,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters.
Wenbin said the “top source” of nuclear threats in the world comes from the US, pointing to the fact that Washington has withdrawn from arms control agreements, including the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty that restricted the development of medium-range ballistic missiles. Now the US is looking to deploy missiles previously banned under the INF in the Asia Pacific.
Last month, the State Department disclosed that the US currently has about 5,750 warheads in its nuclear arsenal. Wang said even though the US has so many warheads, it still wants to invest trillions in modernizing its arsenal and creating low-yield nuclear weapons.
Washington’s over $1 trillion plan to modernize its nuclear arsenal gives the Pentagon good reason to overestimate China’s nuclear weapons development. Wang insisted that Beijing’s nuclear arsenal is purely defensive and said China still maintains a no-first-use policy.
“I want to stress that China remains firmly committed to a nuclear strategy of self-defense, actively advocates the ultimate complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons, and keeps its nuclear force at the minimum level required for national security. China abides by the policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons,” he said.