The Pentagon fears that due to the assistance of the Kremlin, by 2035 China’s nuclear arsenal will be able to match the number of warheads with Russia and the United States.
The US Department of Defense is concerned about the supply of Russian nuclear fuel to China to launch the CFR-600 fast neutron reactor, which is located 220 km from Taiwan on Changbiao Island. Once operational this year, the CFR-600 will produce weapons-grade plutonium that could help Beijing quadruple its stock of warheads over the next 12 years, US intelligence predicts. This is stated in the Bloomberg material dated March 1.
Journalists write that since the publication of the report to Congress in 2021, the Pentagon has repeatedly expressed concern about China’s nuclear ambitions. Military experts estimate that the Chinese military has about 400 warheads, but the CFR-600 reactor could play a critical role in increasing China’s arsenal to 1,500 by 2035.
CFR-600 nuclear power plant on Changbiao Island
US Defense Department officials say the delivery of 6,477 kilograms of uranium by the Russian state concern Rosatom on December 12 last year stimulates China’s nuclear program, which could destabilize the military balance in Asia.
Thus, the supply of Russian nuclear fuel will help China match the arsenal of nuclear weapons that Russia and the United States currently have. However, whether the work of the CFR-600 contributes to this is not known for certain, since it is possible that the reactor is part of a civilian nuclear program.
NATO’s northward expansion and nuclear disarmament: burning bridges
Pavel Podvig, an analyst at the UN Institute for Disarmament Research, noted in this regard that recently Beijing has not reported on its stocks of nuclear fuel, which is used for civilian purposes.
“One thing that makes me worried is that China has stopped reporting its civil and segregated plutonium stocks. It’s certainly not a ‘smoking gun’, but it’s definitely not a good sign,” the expert said.
Hannah Notte, a German arms control specialist, believes that China is clearly benefiting from Russia’s support, since there is a risk for Beijing to build up a nuclear capability by the United States in response to China’s increase in its arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.
Recall that President Vladimir Putin announced the strengthening of Russia’s nuclear triad. On February 22, he said that Moscow plans to deploy new Sarmat missile launchers in 2023 and continue production of the Kinzhal and Zirkon hypersonic missiles.
Leave a Reply