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US State Department calls on China to join dialogue on nuclear arms control

The US State Department has urged the Chinese government to join a dialogue on nuclear arms control following the publication of a Pentagon report stating that China is rapidly expanding its nuclear weapon capabilities and intends to have “at least 1,000” nuclear warheads by 2030.

Speaking to reporters on 4 November, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that Beijing's plan to boost its nuclear arsenal suggests it is “leaving behind its previous nuclear doctrine of limited deterrence”.

We have called for dialogue. We think all responsible countries that have these weapons should engage in an arms control dialogue. We remain ready and willing to do that, and we've made that known to PRC [People's Republic of China] authorities.”

In this regard Price pointed to the ‘Strategic Stability Dialogue' between the United States and Russia as an example for such talks. “It is our hope, it is our intention, to engage in an arms control dialogue with the PRC as well, given what we know to be true of all countries that possess these weapons and the responsibilities we have,” said the spokesperson.

According to the Pentagon's ‘2021 China Military Power Report', which was released on 3 November, the “accelerating pace” of the People's Liberation Army's (PLA's) nuclear expansion may enable China to have up to 700 deliverable nuclear warheads by 2027, with the country intending to have at least 1,000 warheads by 2030, “exceeding the pace and size the [US] DoD projected in 2020,” noted the authors of the report.

In the 2020 edition of the report Pentagon officials had estimated that the number of China's nuclear warheads was “in the low-200s” but was projected “to at least double in size” over the next decade as part of efforts to modernise the PLA.

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