The number of nuclear weapons in China has been increasing at a worrying rate, although not as high as that of the US or Russia. China still has a significant arsenal of nuclear weapons. The nuclear missile force of the People’s Liberation Army (PLARF) has continuously improved and improved its nuclear capabilities.
The newly developed DF-41 and DF-31AG (ICBM) ICBMs, which can be equipped with nuclear warheads, were demonstrated in Beijing last October to demonstrate the progress made by PLARF.
The report by Hans Kristensen and Matt Korda presented by the Bulletin of Nuclear Scientists entitled « Chinese Nuclear Forces » described the current circumstances of PLARF. It is said that China participated in the nuclear weapon modernization program launched in 1980. Efforts on this program had intensified in the 1990s and early 2000, making China’s nuclear weapons more numerous and more powerful.
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While the Chinese nuclear arsenal cannot be accurately described, Kristensen and Korda have added their most accurate estimate of the quantity of Chinese nuclear weapons. The estimate is about 350 nuclear warheads (290 in the 2019 report), of which about 272 are intended for over 240 different land-based ballistic missiles, 48 ballistic missiles at sea and 20 nuclear gravity bombs dropped by bomber aircraft. The rest of the weapons are said to be used by other missiles, both on land and at sea, that are not yet fully developed or deployed.
These estimates are particularly different from those of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), which claims China’s nuclear arsenal is around 200. The report writers failed to monitor this, finding that the Defense Ministry’s estimate is for the number of active Chinese nuclear warheads and may not take into account the number of nuclear weapons dropped by bomber planes. The report therefore states that the Department of Defense estimates roughly its own, when these considerations are taken into account.
Nuclear Weapon, China
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