In a development that should serve as a serious warning to Biden administration officials intent on downplaying or neglecting the worsening Chinese nuclear threat, the Washington Post reports that the Asian nation has initiated construction of over 100 new missile silos in the country’s western desert.
Satellite imagery secured by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in California revealed work underway on 119 sites that appeared similar to missile-launch facilities already in existence in the country, according to the Post.
Analysts at @MIIS used Planet satellite imagery to identify the construction of 119 missile silos near Yumen, China. This discovery could signal substantial growth in China’s nuclear arsenal, currently estimated at 100 ICBMs. Read more in @washingtonpost: https://t.co/1JpGMKb7hH
— Planet (@planet) June 30, 2021
Jeffery Lewis, director of the Center’s East Asia Nonproliferation Program indicated that the silos apparently being built in the newly-identified area added together with new sites that are already known come to a total of roughly 145 under construction at the present time.
This is all very ominous news for the Biden administration in that the construction projects are viewed by many as a clear signal that Beijing has designs on bolstering China’s nuclear capabilities well beyond its current tally of between 250 and 350 weapons. Lewis described the scale of the projects underway as “incredible,” and posited that the new silos are meant for a missile capable of transporting multiple warheads to targets as far as 9,300 miles away.
“We believe China is expanding its nuclear forces in part to maintain a deterrent that can survive a U.S. first strike in sufficient numbers to defeat U.S. missile defenses,” Lewis explained.
The photographic revelations bolster warnings issued earlier this year by Navy Admiral Charles Richard, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, who testified on China’s nuclear plans before the Senate Committee on Armed Services back in April, according to Reuters.
Richard noted that the “fast breeder reactors” currently under development in China yield a “large source of weapons grade plutonium…that will change the upper bounds of what China could do if they wanted to, in terms of further expansion of their nuclear capabilities.” He also urged legislators to support upgrades to the American nuclear arsenal, saying, “I cannot deter with the leftovers from the Cold War forever in the future.”
With Republican lawmakers already having warned Biden that China has “moved a portion of its nuclear force to a Launch on Warning posture and has a nuclear weapons stockpile that is expected to at least double, if not triple, or quadruple, over the next decade,” the time for the administration to start taking these concerns very seriously is now.