According to NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg, the global arms control system is in danger of collapse during the 18th annual NATO Conference on Arms Control, Disarmament and Weapons of Mass Destruction and Non-Proliferation. As the world has become more unstable in the past few years, China has made the world uncomfortable by growing its nuclear arsenal. And the question arises: Is China on Track to Stockpile 1500 Nuclear Warheads?
A Crossroads for arms control
Stoltenberg warns that the international arms control order could collapse, leading to the unrestricted proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The NATO chief also mentioned Russia’s aggressive behavior and intention to undermine the rules-based international system.
Moscow suspended its participation in the latest nuclear arms control treaty with Washington, contributing to the erosion of arms control pacts around the world.
Russia currently possesses 5,977 nuclear warheads, the most of any nation, followed by the United States, with 5,428 warheads.
China and its growing nuclear arsenal
Stoltenberg noted that China is rapidly increasing its nuclear arsenal without transparency about its capabilities. Iran and North Korea are also developing their own nuclear programs and delivery systems. It is estimated that China will have 1,500 nuclear warheads by 2035.
As a world power, the NATO leader asserted that China has global responsibilities and would benefit from the transparency and security of arms control agreements. NATO seeks to engage with China and the wider international community for mutual benefit.
Is China on Track to Stockpile 1500 Nuclear Warheads?
The international world is very worried about China’s nuclear expansion. China’s nuclear modernization and arsenal growth over the past five years has prompted concerns about the country’s motivations and heightened tensions with other nuclear powers, including the United States and Russia.
China reportedly has about 400 nuclear warheads, far fewer than the United States or Russia. But China’s nuclear program has been growing rapidly, and its arsenal is certain to more than double, if not triple, in size during the next decade.
China is increasing its nuclear capabilities in several ways, including the production of new types of nuclear delivery systems, such as ICBMs and SLBMs and increasing the number of warheads it possesses. China is also strengthening the survivability of its nuclear submarine fleet and updating its land-based missiles.
The United States, which views China as a strategic competitor, is particularly worried about China’s nuclear ambitions. The United States has demanded China participate in arms control negotiations and accused China of being secretive about its nuclear program.
Because it has a considerably smaller nuclear arsenal than the United States and Russia, China has rebuffed proposals for arms limitation negotiations from the United States. China claims it is merely updating its capabilities to safeguard its own security. The Chinese government also claims the United States is to blame for the heightened tensions in the region because of its increased military presence and the deployment of missile defense systems in Asia.
The world is carefully monitoring China’s nuclear expansion to see how it may affect international safety. Several countries with nuclear capabilities, including the United States, have urged China to open up about its nuclear program and begin talks on arms reduction. However, the fate of China’s nuclear program is unclear, and the country has shown little interest in doing so.
Recent reports indicate that China’s nuclear arsenal exceeds 400 nuclear warheads. According to Pentagon estimates, they could have 700 heads in 2027 and 1,000 in 2030.
A turning point in arms control
The current situation represents an unparalleled crossroads in arms control and global security. Nations must work together to maintain stability and avoid a dangerous arms race.