US nuclear ambitions a threat to the world
Claiming China – among others – as a threat while strengthening its force is guaranteed to push rival powers to enhance stockpiles
How many nuclear weapons a country needs can never be a question; what should be asked is why they are necessary. The United States only answers the latter with its latest nuclear arsenal review, contending the potential threat posed by China, Russia, North Korea and Iran requires more “flexible” options to enhance deterrence.
The US Department of Defence recommends in a report modified lower yield warheads and sea-launched cruise missiles. With a modernisation drive already well advanced, the creation of additional weapons is only going to hasten a spreading arms race.
China is understandably perturbed, with the foreign ministry in Beijing accusing the administration of US President Donald Trump of having a cold war mentality. Beijing is right; the US has the world’s biggest nuclear arsenal and it wants to build even more bombs. As the only country to have used such weapons in war, it has shown their destructive power, killing hundreds of thousands of people with two bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
Still, despite a commitment to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and an agreement with Russia to cut stockpiles to 1,550 strategic warheads, it seeks weapons that are smaller, increasing the likelihood that they may be used in a conflict rather than as a deterrent.
The US document, known as the Nuclear Posture Review, accuses China of “expanding its already considerable nuclear forces”. The People’s Liberation Army has been testing new missiles, but Beijing countered Washington’s claim by contending it would “resolutely stick to peaceful development and pursue a national defence policy that is defensive in nature”.
Transparency is lacking when it comes to nuclear weapons, but estimates put the US arsenal at almost 20 times that of the Chinese. Claiming China is a threat while strengthening its force is guaranteed to push rival powers to enhance stockpiles.
Trump took office seemingly intent on tearing down all of his predecessor’s achievements, but he has clung onto the drive for newer and better atomic weapons. By continuing that trend and embracing the review’s recommendations, he is setting a dangerous course for the US and world.