Here we go again. The Pentagon has warned that China is expanding its nuclear arsenal and is ready to nearly quadruple the number of warheads it has by 2035, thus rapidly closing its gap with the United States. That’s the latest US defence department “assessment”. It’s not clear Beijing actually aims to have 1,500 nuclear warheads by the middle of the next decade. But even if it does, that would still be less than half of what the United States currently possesses. Meanwhile, Pentagon generals can wave their report and warn the American public of another “China threat”. Actually, they don’t need to convince the American public; they just need to convince Democrats and Republicans in the US Congress that controls funding. And that’s almost always a foregone conclusion. “In recent years, bipartisan congressional support for the nuclear mission has been strong, and nuclear modernisation has received additional funding,” according to the ultraconservative Heritage Foundation’s study of “US Nuclear Weapons” that was published in October as part of its “2023 Index of US Military Strength”. “Preservation of that bipartisan consensus will be critical as these programmes mature and begin to introduce modern nuclear systems to the force.” The “comprehensive modernisation programme” was started by Barack Obama and has been fully supported and accelerated by his two successors. China is developing new nuclear system to power moon base The Heritage Foundation report continues: “In FY 2022, the Biden administration, supported by Congress, advanced the comprehensive modernisation programme for nuclear forces that was initiated by President Barack Obama and continued by the Trump administration … Because such modernisation activities require consistent, stable, long-term funding commitments, this continued bipartisan support has been critical.” Well, let’s consider the numbers . According to the Federation of American Scientists , “Approximately 90 per cent of all nuclear warheads are owned by Russia and the United States, who each have around 4,000 warheads in their military stockpiles; no other nuclear-armed state sees a need for more than a few hundred nuclear weapons for national security.” As of early 2022, the US has a total of 5,248 nuclear warheads, while China has 350. More importantly, though, is how many of those weapons are strategically deployed, as in ready-to-use. Well, the US has 1,644 deployed around the world while China has exactly zero. Moreover, China has a no-first-use doctrine, the only nuclear-capable power to have made such a commitment. In contrast, compared to other nuclear-armed nations, the US nuclear doctrine is the most expansive as it justifies nuclear strikes when “vital interests” of its own and those of its allies are threatened. The Pentagon’s “Fact Sheet: 2022 Nuclear Posture Review and Missile Defence Review,” dated March 29, 2022, says: “The United States would only consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the US or its allies and partners.” It’s unclear how “vital interests” are defined. US to help Thailand develop nuclear power to promote clean energy Currently, the US is only modernising its nuclear arsenal, rather than adding to it. But the Pentagon wants more and better warheads. As the Heritage Foundation report has pointed out, Obama’s modernisation programme was premised on “a [US nuclear] force that is sized to deter only one nuclear peer [and] is not likely to be sufficient to deter two nuclear peers – both Russia and China”. China is a nuclear peer! It’s true Russia has a nuclear stockpile of 5,977, exceeding even that of the US. But China’s is closer to Britain (225 warheads) and France (290). Interestingly, Britain has strategically deployed more than half of them and France all but 10. Washington has always argued that China’s nuclear programme is “opaque”. Well, its closest ally, Israel, doesn’t even acknowledge its own nuclear arsenal! For the US to warn against China’s nuclear threat is a lot like its complaint about China’s expansion of overseas military bases. China currently has one, and no doubt it wants more, compared with the US’ 867 known ones!