China’s Nuclear Weapons Modernization: Intentions, Drivers, and Trends
July 15, 2012
Author: Hui Zhang, Senior Research Associate, Project on Managing the Atom
Under the guiding principles of its nuclear policy-- maintaining a minimum deterrent with a no-first use pledge and avoiding a nuclear arms race-- the main purpose of China‘s nuclear modernization is to assure a limited, reliable, and effective counterattack nuclear capability for deterring a first nuclear strike. China‘s nuclear modernization has been focusing on the quality, rather than the quantity, of its nuclear arsenal in the past three decades. However, since the New START Treaty entered into force on 5 February 2011, growing concerns about Chinese nuclear modernization have arisen. Some are concerned that China would reach nuclear parity with the U.S. as it cuts down its arsenal with Russia. Such concerned voices are even louder, in particular, in the light of a study undertaken by Georgetown Prof. Phillip Karber, which also considers the question of why China has a vast network of underground tunnels—Referred to as China‘s ―underground great wall‖—3000 miles of complicated tunnels, which could host about 3000 nuclear weapons as suggested by Phillip Karbar‘s report. This piece will discuss the intentions and drive of China‘s nuclear weapons modernization, the meaning of Chinese minimum deterrence, and the trends of the Chinese nuclear weapons program.
- ChinaNuclearModernization-hzhang.pdf (261K PDF)
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