According to a recent investigation of commercial satellite images, China has begun construction of more than 100 new mysterious silos in a desert near the north-western city of Yumen, a building spree that could signal a major expansion of Beijing’s nuclear capabilities.
The research, first reported by the Washington Post on Thursday, identified the construction of at least 119 silos, likely to hold intercontinental ballistic missiles, have been identified in the desert of Gansu province. According to the experts, the project reflects a huge surge in China’s nuclear capabilities as the sites held the same features observed at other launch facilities efficient of producing nuclear ballistic missiles.
The quantity of silos indicates the enormous number of nuclear weapons hoarded by the country. However, the total count of new missiles stored at the construction site remains unidentified and could be less, according to the Post. China has a record of utilizing decoy silos as well.
“If the silos under construction at other sites across China are added to the count, the total comes to about 145 silos under construction,” researcher Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Centre for Nonproliferation Studies, who was involved in the investigation, told the newspaper. “We believe China is expanding its nuclear forces in part to maintain a deterrent that can survive a US first strike in sufficient numbers to defeat US missile defenses.”
The news comes after Pentagon officials cautioned back in April that China is massively expanding its arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The update reaches after Pentagon officials cautioned back in April that China is tremendously growing its arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Lewis told the Post that the sites are to be expected to house an ICBM called the DF-41. The missile can bring multiple warheads and has a range of 9,300 miles, with the US mainland being perfectly within its reach.
Nevertheless, China’s nuclear arsenal is overshadowed by those of the US and Russia. These two countries have stored more than a combined 11,000 nuclear warheads, according to the Post.
But the question here is, Will having more solve anything?
The answer is no.
“We’re stumbling into an arms race that is largely driven by US investments and missile defence,” Lewis told the Post.