Aug 6, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Blinken: U.S. worried about "rapid growth" of China's nuclear arsenal

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken during a press conference at the State Department on Aug. 2.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken told foreign ministers from Southeast Asian countries on Friday that the United States is concerned about the rapid growth of China's nuclear arsenal.

Why it matters: The U.S. maintains no arms control agreements with China, though Washington has repeatedly encouraged Beijing to join its efforts alongside Russia in trilateral treaties to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

  • China's current arsenal is smaller than the U.S.' and Russia's, but U.S. intelligence expects it to rapidly grow, Axios' Dave Lawler reports.

What they're saying: Blinken raised the matter during a meeting with member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

  • "The secretary also noted deep concern with the rapid growth of the PRC’s nuclear arsenal which highlights how Beijing has sharply deviated from its decades-old nuclear strategy based on minimum deterrence," State spokesperson Ned Price said of the meeting, referring to the People’s Republic of China.
  • Blinken called on China to halt its provocative behavior in the South China Sea, and he raised concerns about human rights abuses in Tibet, Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

The big picture: A report from the Federation of American Scientists published last month estimated that China has approximately 350 operational nuclear warheads.

  • The report further revealed that China is building a second nuclear missile silo field in the Xinjiang province from which it can launch missiles carrying warheads.
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