China appears to be upping the ante on its “nuclear shell game.”
But rather than engage in an expensive arms race with Washington and Moscow, China has embraced a “limited deterrence” doctrine that prioritizes a lean but robust nuclear arsenal that ensures Beijing’s ability to retaliate if attacked.
According to a report in the Washington Post, China has begun construction of what independent experts say are more than 100 new silos for intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in a desert near the northwestern city of Yumen.
Those same experts say it marks a building spree that could signal a major expansion of Beijing’s nuclear capabilities.
Commercial satellite images obtained by researchers at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California, show work underway at scores of sites across a grid covering hundreds of square miles of arid terrain in China’s Gansu province, the Post reported.
The 119 nearly identical construction sites contain features that mirror those seen at existing launch facilities for China’s arsenal of nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles.
The acquisition of more than 100 new missile silos, if completed, would represent a historic shift for China, a country that is believed to possess a relatively modest stockpile of 250 to 350 nuclear weapons, the Post reported.