Chinese nuclear forces, 2018

By Hans M. Kristensen, Robert S. Norris | June 28, 2018

Nuclear Notebook: How many nuclear weapons does China have?

China is continuing the nuclear weapons modernization program it initiated in the 1980s, fielding more types and greater numbers of nuclear weapons than before. Since our previous Nuclear Notebook on China in July 2016, the country has continued fielding a new version of an existing nuclear medium-range mobile ballistic missile, a new dual-capable intermediate-range mobile ballistic missile, and an improved road-mobile launcher for an existing intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). It has also continued development of a road-mobile ICBM, and might be developing an air-launched dual-capable ballistic missile.

Although there is no sign that the Chinese government has officially diverted from its traditional nuclear policy – a pledge not to use nuclear weapons first, not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear countries or in nuclear-weapon-free zones, and to maintain only a minimum deterrent designed to ensure a survivable second-strike capability – its modernization program is adding significant new capabilities. These qualitative improvements may in turn influence Chinese nuclear policy and strategy.

We estimate that China has a stockpile of approximately 280 nuclear warheads for delivery by 120 to 130 land-based ballistic missiles, 48 sea-based ballistic missiles, and bombers…

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.


Publication Name: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

As the coronavirus crisis shows, we need science now more than ever.

The Bulletin elevates expert voices above the noise. But as an independent, nonprofit media 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.

Share: 

1
Leave a Reply

avatar
1 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
1 Comment authors
MAGABeard Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
MAGABeard
Guest
MAGABeard

MUTUAL ASSURED DESTRUCTION

Don’t worry, Be Happy

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE

RELATED POSTS

Receive Email
Updates