China’s Nuclear Arms Are a Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery
Beijing's plans to build new missiles, expand anti-satellite capabilities and increase nuclear material production far above civilian needs have the world guessing.
Two weeks ago, U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to a proposal that China join the four other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council at a summit to initiate a new round of arms control talks. The goal, according to administration oﬃcials, is a three-way agreement among China, Russia, and the United States to limit nuclear weapons. As National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien explained in early February, “It shouldn’t just be the U.S. and Russia. We think that China is going to need to become involved in any serious arms control negotiation.”
China, whose nuclear warheads number only in the low hundreds, may not seem a natural ﬁt for negotiations with the United States (6,185 total warheads, of which 1,750 are deployed) and Russia (6,490 total, 1,600 deployed). Indeed, China has previously rejected participating in a trilateral nuclear arms deal on the grounds that its forces are too small.