China denies US report rapidly increasing nuclear weapons – KLBK | KAMC

Fu Cong, the director general of the arms control department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, attends a press conference on nuclear weapons control in Beijing, China on Tuesday, January 4, 2022. The senior Chinese arms control official denied on Tuesday that his government was rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal, although he said it was taking steps to ensure its nuclear deterrent remains viable in a changing security environment. (AP Photo / Ng Han Guan)

BEIJING (AP) – A senior Chinese arms control official on Tuesday denied that his government was rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal, despite saying it was taking steps to modernize its nuclear forces.

Fu Cong, director general of the arms control department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that China is working to ensure that its nuclear deterrence meets the minimum level necessary for national defense.

“On the claims by US officials that China is dramatically expanding its nuclear capabilities, let me first say that is wrong,” he said at a briefing in Beijing.

The briefing came a day after China, the United States, Russia, Britain and France issued a joint statement on preventing a nuclear war or an arms race. The statement was supposed to be timed for the start of a global disarmament conference at the UN, but the meeting was postponed due to an increase in COVID-19 cases.

The US Department of Defense said in a report in November that China was developing its nuclear force faster than expected and could have more than 1,000 warheads by 2030. The United States has 3,750 nuclear weapons.

The United States has also raised concerns over satellite imagery-based analyst reports that China is building missile silos in its northwest desert and testing a hypersonic missile last summer. .

Fu did not confirm the missile silos but said the size of China’s nuclear force should not be estimated based on satellite photos.

He said China must take measures to ensure that its nuclear strength is sufficient in light of the changing security environment in Asia. He cited US discussions on the deployment of non-nuclear intermediate-range missiles in the region. India also has nuclear weapons, as does its neighbor Pakistan.

Fu has stuck to the Chinese position that he will not join the US-Russia nuclear reduction talks, as the US side has demanded. He called on the two to reduce their arsenals, by far the most important in the world.

“We will be happy to join them if they are reduced to our level,” he said. adding that “the two superpowers must … drastically reduce their nuclear capacities to a level comparable to the level of China, and moreover to the level of France and the United Kingdom, so that other nuclear states can join this process “.

The administration of US President Joe Biden is conducting a review of the US nuclear position, but a major change seems unlikely given reports of China’s growing nuclear strength and tensions with China over Taiwan and with China. Russia over Ukraine.

Fu also called on the United States to lift the sanctions against Iran and for Iran to revert to its nuclear commitments on this basis. Iran is in talks with the United States, China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and Germany on reinstating a 2015 deal that gave Iran sanctions relief in return restrictions on its nuclear program. Former President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018.

Martin E. Berry