China is expected to double its stockpile of nuclear weapons to approximately 400 warheads over the next decade, the Pentagon said Tuesday in an annual report to Congress.
"Over the next decade, China's nuclear warhead stockpile — currently estimated to be in the low 200s — is projected to at least double in size as China expands and modernizes its nuclear forces," the report said in a list of "key takeaways."
It also claimed the communist nation "is pursuing a 'nuclear triad' with the development of a nuclear capable air-launched ballistic missile (ALBM) and improving its ground and sea-based nuclear capabilities."
Warnings of the increasing security threat posed by China, including its nuclear arsenal, are not new. However, the report is the first time the Pentagon has disclosed its estimate of the country's nuclear arsenal.
The EMP Task Force on Homeland and National Security, a coalition of industry, security and government officials, in June published a report saying China has developed three high-tech weapons – including electromagnetic pulse (EMP) bombs – and harbors a mindset to use them in a nuclear first-strike that would cripple the United States. EMPs are nuclear bombs set off in the atmosphere that destroy electrical and electronic circuits not hardened against them.
"The (People's Republic of China's) strategic ambitions, evolving view of the security landscape, and concerns over survivability are driving significant changes to the size, capabilities, and readiness of its nuclear forces," the Pentagon report said.
"The PRC's nuclear weapons policy prioritizes the maintenance of a nuclear force able to survive a first strike and respond with sufficient strength to inflict unacceptable damage on an enemy."
The report added China has espoused a "no first use" (NFU) strategy on nuclear weapons but "there is ambiguity over the conditions under which China would act outside of its NFU policy."
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