China pledges to ‘modernize’ its nuclear weapons
After joining the world’s most powerful nations in pledging to work together on disarmament and avoid nuclear war, China is continuing to overhaul its stash of atomic weapons, and calling on others to reduce their stockpiles.
"China has always adopted the no first use policy and we maintain our nuclear capabilities at the minimal level required for our national security,” Fu Cong, the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s top arms control director, told reporters on Tuesday, according to AFP.
"China will continue to modernize its nuclear arsenal for reliability and safety issues," he added.
Along with the US, UK, Russia, and France, China on Monday signed a statement declaring that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” The five nuclear powers also agreed to work together on “bilateral and multilateral non-proliferation, disarmament, and arms control agreements and commitments,” and not to leave their nuclear weapons targeted at each other.
The statement came amid historically high tensions between some of the signatories. Aside from the ongoing standoff between the US and Russia over NATO expansion in Europe and the future of Ukraine, the US has also marshalled its allies into two military and diplomatic alliances – the AUKUS pact and the Quad – aimed at countering China’s growing regional influence in the Pacific.
The Pentagon claimed in November that China is dramatically increasing its stockpile of nuclear warheads, and is on track to possess at least 1,000 by the end of the decade – a doubling of previous US estimates. While Beijing at the time neither confirmed or denied any nuclear expansion, Fu on Tuesday told reporters that the US’ “assertions” are “untrue.”
Furthermore, Fu called on leaders in Washington and Moscow to reduce their own nuclear arsenals.
"The US and Russia still possess 90 percent of the nuclear warheads on Earth," he stated. "They must reduce their nuclear arsenal in an irreversible and legally binding manner."
The US and Russia, at least in theory, agree to this sentiment. The statement signed by all five nuclear powers on Monday includes a commitment to establish “a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”