The DEFCON Warning System™

Ongoing GeoIntel and Analysis in the theater of nuclear war.  DEFCON Level assessment issued for public notification.  Established 1984.

China Is Suddenly Discussing Arms Controls. Here’s What It Really Means | Opinion

In the last few years, the world’s arms-control architecture has been falling apart, especially as Russia has turned it back on treaty obligations. So why did China change its mind on talks now? After decades of Beijing refusing to talk about arms control, U.S. and Chinese officials held discussions on the topic in Washington, D.C. last week.

As an initial matter, it’s not clear the Chinese in fact did change their view. Yes, the meeting, from official accounts, was a success. Both Washington and Beijing called the discussions “constructive.” That’s not exactly what insiders say, though. As an informed source, speaking anonymously, told me, “The U.S. spoke in platitudes while the Chinese said there was no reason for them to agree to limit their nukes, because they had so few.”

The U.S. has, pursuant to its obligations to Russia under the New START Treaty, limited its number of deployed nuclear weapons to 1,550. (Technical counting rules in fact allow the United States to possess a few more and the U.S., like Russia, has thousands more nukes in storage.) Russia has stopped complying with New START and has purportedly suspended the pact.

At the Monday meeting, China representatives said that their rapid buildup is the result of the American buildup, per my source. The number of deployed American weapons has substantially declined during the post-Cold War era, however, falling from about 10,000 then to under 2,000 today. China, on the other hand, is now on a tear adding to its arsenal.

China has never publicly confirmed the number of its nuclear weapons. The Pentagon in a November 2022 report forecast that China would quadruple nukes from about 400 then to 1,500 by 2035.

“For decades, they were quite comfortable with an arsenal of a few hundred nuclear weapons, which was fairly clearly a second-strike capability to act as a deterrent,” Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall said in testimony in March, referring to China. “That expansion that they’re undertaking puts us into a new world that we’ve never lived in before, where you have three powers—three great powers, essentially—with large arsenals of nuclear weapons.”

Read more at Newsweek

Ongoing Geointel and Analysis in the theater of nuclear war.


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