Nuclear Notebook: How many nuclear bombs does China have?
The modernization of China’s land-based nuclear-capable missile force has progressed significantly over the past year, with Beijing fielding a new version of an existing nuclear missile and a new dual-capable missile. The country has also reorganized its nuclear missile command structure. The authors estimate that, in total, China has a stockpile of approximately 260 nuclear warheads for delivery by nearly 150 land-based ballistic missiles, 48 sea-based ballistic missiles, and bombers. The Chinese intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) force will probably continue to grow slowly, such that the number of ICBM warheads primarily targeted against the United States may exceed 100 a decade from now. Although there is no sign that the Chinese government has officially diverted from its no-first-use nuclear policy, its modernization program is adding significant new capabilities. These qualitative improvements may in turn alter Chinese nuclear policy and strategy…
To read this full article for free, visit our online archive here.
To download a PDF of this article, click this link.
To read an authoritative accounting of world nuclear arsenals, click here for all Nuclear Notebook columns.
The Nuclear Notebook is researched and written by Hans M. Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project with the Federation of American Scientists and Robert S. Norris, a senior fellow with the FAS. The Nuclear Notebook column has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1987. The Nuclear Notebook column has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1987.
The Bulletin elevates expert voices above the noise. But as an independent nonprofit organization, our operations depend on the support of readers like you. Help us continue to deliver quality journalism that holds leaders accountable. Your support of our work at any level is important. In return, we promise our coverage will be understandable, influential, vigilant, solution-oriented, and fair-minded. Together we can make a difference.