World Daily News

China Accelerates Nuclear Expansion: 500 Warheads by 2024 Amid Global Arms Race

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China is expanding its nuclear arsenal at an unprecedented rate, raising global concerns amid already tense geopolitical climates. With around 500 nuclear warheads by 2024, China is poised to shift the balance of nuclear power.

China Accelerates Nuclear Arsenal Expansion Amid Rising Global Tensions

China is significantly increasing its nuclear arsenal, with a shift towards making its warheads operational for the first time. While President Xi Jinping has publicly denounced the use of nuclear weapons, particularly in the context of the Ukraine conflict, China is nonetheless rapidly expanding its nuclear capabilities. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), China had about 500 nuclear warheads as of January 2024, up from 410 the previous year—a 20% increase.

U.S., Russia, and China at the Forefront of Nuclear Spending

The SIPRI report notes that while the total number of nuclear warheads globally has decreased to around 12,000, the number of operational and ready-to-use warheads has increased. The majority of these belong to the United States and Russia, but China is also making notable progress. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) reported that global spending on nuclear arms hit $91 billion, with China and Russia following the United States in expenditure.

Corruption and Modernization in China's Missile Forces

Amid China's rapid nuclear development, there are concerns about corruption within its missile forces. Reports suggest that senior officials have been siphoning funds meant for missile improvements. Despite these internal challenges, China remains on track to match the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capabilities of the U.S. and Russia by the end of the decade. This escalation reflects a broader global trend where nuclear-armed states—including the U.S., Russia, France, and the UK—are modernizing their arsenals in response to geopolitical pressures.

  • A US nuclear-powered submarine’s arrival at Jeju Island, South Korea underscores the heightened nuclear readiness across the globe. These developments occur as states ramp up their nuclear expenditures by a third over the past five years. SIPRI’s Hans Kristensen emphasizes that nearly all nuclear-armed states are under pressure to enhance their nuclear forces, a situation exacerbated by conflicts in regions like Ukraine and Gaza.
  • China's substantial investments are not limited to military applications; a recent study by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation highlights China's advancements in nuclear energy. With 27 reactors under construction, China's efficient build times position it ahead of the United States, which lags by 15 years in nuclear technology development.
  • Despite internal corruption issues, China's ambitions in nuclear capabilities are bolstered by state-backed funding and strategic national priorities. With an eye on becoming a dominant force in nuclear deterrence, China is poised to impact global nuclear dynamics significantly.
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Refs: | Aljazeera | Merkur |



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