By Drago Bosnic
Global Research, February 08, 2023
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Mere days after the United States pompously announced that it has soundly defeated an adrift weather balloon, another absurdity has taken the headlines in the mainstream media. Apparently, China somehow managed to overtake America in the number of ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) launchers. This was reported by the Wall Street Journal on February 7, citing the Senate’s and House’s Armed Services Committees. According to WSJ, the commander of the US Strategic Command, which oversees America’s nuclear forces, notified the US Congress about the supposed Chinese advantage.
“The number of land-based fixed and mobile ICBM launchers in China exceeds the number of ICBM launchers in the United States,” the commander stated.
The author of the WSJ article himself admitted that the US is currently modernizing its entire nuclear triad (land, sea and air-launched nuclear weapons) and that “it has a much larger nuclear force than China”. The Strategic Command also notified US lawmakers that America still has more land-based ICBMs than China, as well as several times more thermonuclear warheads mounted on those missiles. Worse yet, the report doesn’t even include SLBMs (submarine-launched ballistic missiles) and strategic bombers that make the US dominance even more pronounced.
But US officials and experts are claiming that “many of China’s land-based launchers still consist of empty silos”, meaning that Beijing “potentially has more launch options”. The lawmakers cited these launchers as “a portent of the scale of China’s longer-range ambitions and are urging the US to expand its own nuclear forces to counter the Russian and Chinese forces”. According to Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, “China is rapidly approaching parity with the United States”.
“We cannot allow that to happen. The time for us to adjust our force posture and increase capabilities to meet this threat is now,” Rogers stated.
He then criticized America’s compliance with the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), claiming this is “inhibiting the US from building up its arsenal to deter Russia and China”. And while China isn’t included in the treaty (set to expire in 2026), Russia is, meaning that Moscow is also “inhibited” by it, making the assertion all the more illogical. On the other hand, many US experts are now claiming that it’s in the US interest to preserve treaty limits with Russia and to also attempt to draw Beijing into it, while still continuing with constant modernization of America’s nuclear arsenal.
Rose Gottemoeller, a US arms control expert who took part in negotiating the New START, stated: “It’s in our national interest to keep the Russians under the New START limits. We need to complete our nuclear modernization according to plan, not pile on new requirements.”
The WSJ report posits that the US is now trying to deal with Russia and China by using a mix of arms control treaties and upgraded nuclear forces. The Pentagon’s 2022 Nuclear Posture Review identified both superpowers as strategic rivals, stating that “by the 2030s the United States will, for the first time in its history, face two major nuclear powers as strategic competitors and potential adversaries.”
However, while claiming that it wants to preserve the New START, the troubled Biden administration seems to be working towards eliminating it. Just last week, the US accused Russia of violating the treaty by refusing to allow on-site inspections, although the US itself is doing the same, meaning Moscow is simply responding in kind. Such actions indicate that Washington DC might be trying to sabotage the New START because it’s frustrated that China isn’t included in it.
The Pentagon claims that Beijing will increase its current arsenal of 400 warheads to 1,500 by 2035. At present, China’s nuclear arsenal includes an unspecified number of mobile ICBM launchers, while the US military claims that the Asian giant also operates approximately 20 liquid-fueled, silo-based ICBMs, but that it’s also building three ICBM silo fields intended to house approximately 300 modern solid-fueled missiles. For comparison, the US fields 5,428 warheads, with at least 400 land-based ICBMs. In other words, the current American nuclear arsenal is over 13 times larger than China’s, while its land-based ICBMs outnumber Beijing’s by more than 20 times.
US experts are often debating what China plans to do with the aforementioned silos it’s now allegedly building. Some claim that, while Beijing currently doesn’t have enough nuclear-tipped ICBMs to fill all silos, it might leave some empty or install conventionally armed missiles. Still, the sheer magnitude of the mental gymnastics used by the US political establishment to present itself as the “party in jeopardy” in this case is ludicrous for anyone familiar with the size of America’s nuclear arsenal. Even with the assertion that China will have 1,500 nuclear weapons in 2035, including 400 land-based ICBMs, the US would still have a 3:1 advantage, making the accusations against Beijing a moot point.
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Drago Bosnic is an independent geopolitical and military analyst.
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