US DOD reports significant PRC Nuclear capabilities improvement 26/10/2023 | Fabio Di Felice

In the new unclassified US Department of Defense annual report to Congress on China’s military and security developments 2023, the Pentagon reported that Beijing completed the construction of at least 300 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) silos last year and “may” be eyeing development of a new conventionally armed missile system that could reach western US states.

In accordance with the document, in addition, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) had more than 500 operational nuclear warheads with a prediction that the number will “likely” grow to more than 1,000 operational nuclear warheads by 2030, exceeding the last year's projections. Both these new evidence showed how the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) has been busy expanding and diversifying its nuclear program and improving its capabilities. In accordance with the US DoD spokesman declaration, if comparing it to what they were doing about a decade ago, last year’s improvements really far exceed that in terms of scale and complexity, expanding and investing in their land, sea, and air-based nuclear delivery platforms, as well as the infrastructure that's required to support this. However, while this growth is significant, China’s nuclear force remains still small in comparison to the U.S. and Russia. In accordance with the Federation of American Scientists, Russia has nearly 5,900 warheads, while the U.S. inventory numbers are more than 5,200.

In addition, in the report, Pentagon staff believes the PRC is likely to explore the development of a new, conventionally armed, intercontinental range precision missile system that could strike targets across all Pacific and inside the continental United States. It could be the result of a progression for the PLA Rocket Force, which has steadily developed short-, medium-, and long-range conventional ballistic missiles. Chinese Government, through its foreign ministry, Wang Yi, has criticized the Pentagon report, in particular focusing on having more than 1000 nuclear warheads by 2030, commenting that this report is ‘filled with prejudice and distorted facts, spreading the theory of the threat posed by China’ and that Beijing has no intention to be involved in a nuclear arms race with the US and Russia. In his address to the media, Yi also reinforced the concept of the Chinese nuclear strategy of self-defense which has kept the lowest level, in terms of warheads, required for national security.

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