Tuesday, September 28, 2021

China Rapidly Moving Towards First-Strike Capability - Changing The Threat Equation

China’s Possible First-Strike Capabilities Are Changing the Threat Equation

China’s massive and fast-paced push to add more nuclear weapons to its arsenal is fast changing the threat equation for U.S. leaders who see the country’s ongoing large-scale increase in Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) as a very “destabilizing” event. U.S. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall says China’s move to add hundreds of new land-based, fixed ICBM silos amounts to their developing a “first-strike” capability. 

“Most of their weapons have been mobile ICBMs, so this is a very destabilizing move and I am not sure they understand the risk they are taking. Whether they intend it or not … their move creates a first-strike capability. If they continue down this path to increase their ICBM force, then that is a de facto first-strike capability,” Kendall told reporters at the Air Force Association Symposium. 

Kendall may have been referring to an event described in August at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium by the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command Adm. Charles “Chaz” Richard. 

“Only four months ago, commercial satellite imagery discovered what is accepted to nuclear missile fields in western China. Each has nearly 120 ICBM silos. Now these compliment and are added into what they already have,” Richard told an audience at the symposium in Huntsville, Alabama. 

China’s clear ambition to massively expand its nuclear arsenal is something that has been on the Pentagon’s radar for some time, as it was cited as a serious concern last year in the Pentagon’s 2020 China Military Report.  


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