Beijing is reportedly expanding its nuclear arsenal at a fast pace over a feared increase to the threat posed by the US, experts have claimed. According to analysts who study satellite images, work has been sped up on over 100 suspected missile silos being developed in China’s remote western region. The analysts say that the silos could house nuclear-tipped missiles capable of reaching the US.
The silos at the various sites are reportedly big enough for a new long-range Chinese missile, the DF-41, to hit the US mainland, analysts report.
Matt Korda, from the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, said satellite images taken during January reveal that the last 45 of the temporary covers over each of the 120 suspected missile silos near Yumen have been removed.
Mr Korda suggested this indicates that the most sensitive work at all the silos is likely finished.
It is thought by some experts that Chinese leaders view building up a stronger nuclear arsenal as an effective tactic to deter the US from getting involved with the Taiwan dispute, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The Pentagon says it expects China to have at least 1,000 warheads by the end of the decade, adding to its tally which is currently in the low hundreds (far below the 4,000 owned by the US and Russia).
China has stepped up its alarming rhetoric over US’s involvement in the dispute over the island of Taiwan, which Beijing believes to be a part of China.
Taipei still claims sovereignty, but China has sent fears flying that it might retake the island which it views as a breakaway province.
The White House has pledged to offer Taiwan “rock solid” support against China, likely sparking fears in Beijing that reclaiming the island will not be easy.
Now, Ambassador Qin Gang issued a brutal warning to US President Joe Biden to keep out of China’s affairs in the South China Sea.
He said: “If the Taiwanese authorities, emboldened by the United States, keep going down the road for independence, it most likely will involve China and the United States, the two big countries, in a military conflict.”
READ MORE: Sturgeon humiliated: Shell ‘will restart Cambo oilfield’ project
A US official told Reuters: “The selection of these five individuals sends an important signal about the bipartisan US commitment to Taiwan and its democracy, and demonstrates that the Biden administration’s broader commitment to Taiwan remains rock solid.”
They added: “The United States will maintain the capacity to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardise the security or the social or economic system of the people of Taiwan.”
But China has rejected claims that it is expanding its nuclear arsenal.
Director general of the Foreign Ministry’s arms control department, said earlier this year: “On the assertions made by US officials that China is expanding dramatically its nuclear capabilities, first, let me say that this is untrue.”