According to a new study, China is constructing a second field of missile silos in its western deserts, signalling a potential expansion of its nuclear arsenal and calling Beijing’s commitment to its “minimum deterrence” strategy into question.
According to US scientists, China is increasing its capacity to store and launch nuclear missiles.
Defense officials in the United States have expressed concern about China’s nuclear buildup.
It is the second new silo field to be reported in western China in the last two months.
The site could house up to 110 silos, which are underground facilities used for missile storage and launch.
The Washington Post reported last month that 120 silos were discovered in Yumen, Gansu province, in a desert area.
According to the FAS report released on Monday, the new site at Hami, about 380 kilometres (240 miles) north-west of Yumen, is in a much earlier stage of development.
According to the Pentagon, China plans to more than double its stockpile of nuclear warheads by 2020, starting from a low base.
The announcement comes as the United States and Russia prepare to hold arms control talks.
The talks between US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov are being viewed as a first step toward resuming stalled nuclear arms reduction talks.
However, China has so far refused to participate in arms control talks.
In a tweet, the US Strategic Command, the branch of the Department of Defense in charge of strategic deterrence, expressed concern about the report.
“This is the second time in two months the public has discovered what we have been saying all along about the growing threat the world faces and the veil of secrecy that surrounds it,” it said.
The Xinjiang silo field was discovered using commercial satellite imagery, but Planet, a satellite imaging company, later provided higher-resolution images.
According to the Pentagon, China had a nuclear stockpile of more than 200 warheads in 2020 and aimed to more than double this number.
According to analysts, the United States possesses approximately 3,800 nuclear warheads.