The risk of an accidental nuclear war with China is growing as the regime expands its nuclear arsenal in disregard for international arms control mechanisms, according to UK national security adviser Sir Stephen Lovegrove.
In a virtual speech at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, Lovegrove said the world is entering a “dangerous new age of proliferation,” in which “technological change is increasing the damage potential of many weapons, and those weapons systems are more widely available.”
He expressed concerns over “the pace and scale with which China is expanding its nuclear and conventional arsenals and the disdain it has shown for engaging with any arms control agreements.”
“We have clear concerns about China’s nuclear modernization programme that will increase both the number and types of nuclear weapon systems in its arsenal,” Lovegrove said.
Lovegrove said the risk of nuclear conflict could be greater today than at the height of the Cold War.
“During the Cold War, we benefited from a series of negotiations and dialogues that improved our understanding of Soviet doctrine and capabilities—and vice versa,” he said. “This gave us both a higher level of confidence that we would not miscalculate our way into nuclear war. Today, we do not have the same foundations with others who may threaten us in the future—particularly with China.
“The Cold War’s two monolithic blocs of the USSR and NATO, though not without alarming bumps, were able to reach a shared understanding of doctrine that is today absent.
“Doctrine is opaque in Moscow and Beijing, let alone Pyongyang or Tehran. So the question is how we reset strategic stability for the new era, finding a balance amongst unprecedented complexity so there can be no collapse into uncontrolled conflict.”
Russia currently has the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, with roughly 1,500 deployed nuclear weapons and 6,257 warheads in total. The United States is next, with about 1,400 deployed systems and 5,550 warheads in total. Between 1,500–2,000 warheads in both nations’ arsenals are retired and awaiting disarmament.
China is currently reported to have about 350 warheads, but a recent Pentagon report states that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime is drastically increasing the production and modernization of its nuclear arsenal and that it would have 1,000 nuclear weapons by 2030.
Peter Pry, director of the U.S. nuclear strategy forum at the Center for Security Policy, a Washington-based think tank, believes that estimate to be far too low and said he expected the real number of Chinese warheads to reach around 4,000 by 2030, based on the speed with which the CCP is constructing new intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) and silos and producing uranium.
“I don’t think [China is] building up its forces just for the deterrence factor,” Pry said during a recent interview with EpochTV’s “China Insider.”
“I think it’s building up its nuclear forces for global domination.”
PA Media contributed to this report.