China denies expanding nuclear arsenal, instead claims modernization

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The Chinese government denied claims by the US Tuesday that it is taking steps to expand its nuclear capabilities, insisting that it is only modernizing the arsenal for defensive purposes.

Fu Cong, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s arms control department, told reporters that ​Beijing is ensuring its nuclear deterrent meets the minimum level necessary for national defense.

“On the assertions made by US officials that China is expanding dramatically its nuclear capabilities, first, let me say that this is untrue,” ​Fu added.

The denial came one day ​after the US, Russia, China, Great Britain and France — the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — released a joint statement calling for an end to the nuclear arms race, saying conflict between nuclear-armed states would have disastrous consequences for the world.​

“We affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” the statement read.

“This is untrue,” Director General Fu Cong said about US officials claiming China is expanding its nuclear capabilities.
Ng Han Guan/AP

“As nuclear use would have far-reaching consequences, we also affirm that nuclear weapons — for as long as they continue to exist — should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war​,” it added.​

In a November report, the Defense Department said the Chinese People’s Liberation Army is rapidly expanding its nuclear force and estimated that China could have more than 1,000 warheads by 2030.​

The US, by comparison, has 3,570 nuclear weapons.

China's first nuclear power unit.
Satellite images revealed construction of missile silos in different locations. ​
Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images

​​Adding to the concerns about China’s nuclear capabilities are satellite images that show construction of about 250 missile silos in different locations. ​

Beijing also successfully test-fired a hypersonic weapon in July that can travel at low altitudes to evade detection.

Fu said China would not take part in nuclear arms reduction talks between the US and Russia, and called for both powers to reduce their arsenals.  

The formation of Dongfeng-41 nuclear missiles.
In July, China successfully test-fired a hypersonic weapon that can travel at low altitudes to evade detection.
Xia Yifang/Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images

“We will be happy to join if they have reduced to our level,” he said, adding that “the two superpowers need to … drastically reduce their nuclear capabilities to a level comparable to the level of China, and for that matter to the level of France and the UK, so that other nuclear states can join in this process.”

With Post wires​

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