According to a report, US military officials told Congress last month that China now has more land-based ICBM launchers than the US.
The commander of U.S. Strategic Command, which oversees nuclear forces, briefed the Armed Services Committees in both houses of Congress on Jan. 26 about the development. The Wall Street Journal reported.
U.S. officials told the outlet that China’s growing number of missile launchers has caused some alarm for U.S. officials — but the states have more land-based intercontinental-range missiles because many The Chinese launchers are empty, US officials told the outlet.
According to the Journal, the US also has a larger nuclear fleet than China and is in the process of modernizing its nuclear arsenal.
News of China’s missile launchers came after the country launched a spy balloon over the United States, hovering over Montana, as part of the military’s ICBM arsenal.
Republicans in Congress said the growing number of Chinese launchers was enough for the US military to respond by expanding its nuclear forces. He said that China’s increase in ICBM launchers is an indication of the country’s plans to build large-scale nuclear weapons in the future.
China has not shown willingness to negotiate with the US to limit the production of nuclear weapons.
“China is rapidly moving toward parity with the U.S.,” said Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, according to the Journal. “We cannot allow this to happen. Now is the time to adjust our power posture and build capabilities to deal with this threat.
The Alabama Republican added that the U.S. cannot build its own weapons because of long-range force limitations set by a treaty between the U.S. and Russia called New START. The deal is set to expire in 2026.
Opponents of nuclear weapons, however, said the agreement and limits should be expanded — and the U.S. should try to bring China on board.
“It is in our national interest to keep the Russians within New START limits. We need to complete our nuclear modernization as planned, not pile on new requirements,” said Rose Gottmoeller of Stanford University, who negotiated a historic deal for the U.S., told the Journal.
The Biden administration last week accused Moscow of violating the agreement by refusing to allow inspections of the site. Russian officials said they were still enforcing the restrictions.
The United States views both China and Russia as major nuclear threats.
“By the 2030s, the United States will, for the first time in its history, face two major nuclear powers as strategic rivals and potential adversaries,” the Pentagon said in a policy document last year.
According to a Pentagon report cited by the Journal, China is expected to produce about 1,500 nuclear warheads by 2035 — a massive increase from its 2021 stockpile, which was estimated at 400.
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