How Many Nukes Does China Have? – WSJ.com | 1913 Intel

October 25th, 2011

The extent of the tunneling was also hard to square with the supposedly small size of the Chinese nuclear arsenal, which is commonly believed to be in the range of 240-400 warheads. “So they’ve built 10 miles of tunnel for every warhead?” Mr. Karber recalls asking himself. “That doesn’t make sense; it’s kind of overkill.”

That thought prompted Mr. Karber to take a closer look at Western estimates of China’s arsenal. In the late 1960s, the U.S. military projected that China would be able to field 435 warheads by 1973. A straight-line extrapolation based on that assumption would suggest that China would have somewhere in the order of 3,000 warheads today. In 1984 the Defense Intelligence Agency estimated that China would have 818 warheads by 1994 and more than 1,000 today. More recent reports in the Chinese media put the figure somewhere between 2,350 and 3,500, with an average annual warhead production of 200 over the last decade. By contrast, estimates by the Natural Resources Defense Council suggest that China’s arsenal peaked by about 1980 and has been more-or-less flat ever since.

How accurate are any of these figures? Without on-site inspections, it’s impossible to say for sure: As a report by the Council on Foreign Relations noted a decade ago, “China stands out as the least transparent by far of all the nuclear-weapon states.”

Yet despite the opacity, the consensus view among China watchers is to go with the low estimates. Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists insists the Chinese are “not in the business of trying to reach [nuclear] parity with the U.S. or Russia. They’re not hiding hundreds and hundreds of missiles in these tunnels.” The tunnels, he adds, are China’s “typical game of hiding what they have and protecting their relatively limited missile force.”

Bret Stephens: How Many Nukes Does China Have? – WSJ.com

I read reports from the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) from time to time. I have generally found them to be dangerously biased. The scientists are heavily influenced by modern liberalism. Obviously, the amount of bias varies by article, but the trend is so noticeable that I do not use them as a source. Hans Kristensen is better than most at FAS, but I wouldn’t entirely trust him either. Let him gather information, but then ignore his conclusions just like all the others at FAS.

So why would China build 3,000 miles of underground tunnels for its nuclear weapons when it only has less than 400 weapons? Why all the secrecy? Why don’t we have a better idea about China’s nukes?

The answer to the above questions is bad news for America. China probably has a lot more nukes than previously thought. China is not acting in good faith by being so secret because it expects a confrontation at some point in the future.

via How Many Nukes Does China Have? – WSJ.com | 1913 Intel.

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For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
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