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China now has 500 warheads and is building its nuclear arsenal faster than any other


China has beaten its fellow superpowers when it comes to growing its stockpile of nuclear warheads, a European think tank said in a report on Monday.

“China is expanding its nuclear arsenal faster than any other country,” said Hans M Kristensen, a Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) expert on weapons of mass destruction.

According to SIPRI, China has increased its nuclear warheads from 410 in 2023 to 500 at the start of this year. But China, Kristensen said, isn’t the only country that’s been busy expanding its nuclear arsenal.

North Korea has increased its warheads by two-thirds over the past year, going from 30 in 2023 to 50 this year, per the think tank.

To be sure, China’s and North Korea’s growing nuclear stockpiles still cannot compare to what the US and Russia have.

In terms of total inventory, the US has 5,044 warheads while Russia has 5,580, and their combined stockpile makes up almost 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons, per SIPRI.

Representatives for China’s foreign ministry didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from BI sent outside regular business hours.

China could have over 1,000 warheads by 2030

The institute’s figures are in line with the Department of Defense’s forecasts, which were published in October in their annual China Military Power Report.

“In 2020, the Department of Defense estimated China’s operational nuclear warhead stockpile was in the low-200s and expected to at least double by 2030,” the report said.

“However, Beijing has accelerated its nuclear expansion, and the Department of Defense estimates China’s stockpile had more than 500 operational nuclear warheads as of May 2023,” the report continued.

And China’s nuclear stockpile will only continue to grow in the years to come. The Pentagon said in its report that it expects China to have over 1,000 operational nuclear warheads by 2030.

“These changes to the numbers, capability, and readiness of the PRC’s nuclear forces in the coming years are likely to outpace potential developments by the nuclear forces of any competitor,” the report said of China’s growing nuclear capabilities.

Expanding its nuclear arsenal isn’t China’s only military goal. The country has also been focused on bolstering its naval capabilities.

According to a 2021 US Navy Institute report, China has the world’s largest navy, with over 355 vessels in its fleet. In July, leaked US Navy intelligence revealed that China’s shipbuilding capacity is 232 times greater than the US.

However, some military experts believe that China still won’t be able to take on the US in the next decade, even with its burgeoning military capabilities.

“China, in my estimation, will not be ready to take on the US in a very mature way for about 10 years,” retired US Navy Adm. James Stavridis said in an interview on “The Michael Medved Show” in December.

“Even though China is building a massive fleet, even though they’re acting very aggressively, they’re not ready yet to line up all that they need to take on the US Pacific Fleet,” he continued.



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