BEIJING: China said Sunday it is “firmly opposed” to the United States’ new nuclear weapons policy statement, describing its speculation about Chinese intentions as “wild guesses.”
The US Defense Department’s Nuclear Posture Review released Friday outlines the Pentagon’s nuclear ambitions under President Donald Trump, while spelling out how it foresees nuclear threats in the coming decades.
Although the review largely focuses on Russia, several sections are dedicated to the lack of transparency in China’s nuclear buildup.
The report says China has added new types of nuclear capabilities — ranging from a mobile intercontinental ballistic missile to a new ballistic missile submarine — “with little to no transparency into its intentions.”
The report makes “wild guesses” about China’s intentions and exaggerates the threat of its nuclear force, defense ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said in a statement.
China is “firmly opposed to this,” Ren said.
China “has always kept its own nuclear forces at the minimum level required by national security,” Ren said, pointing out that the US has the world’s largest nuclear arsenal.
“We hope that the United States will abandon its Cold War mentality,” Ren said.
Since taking office in 2012 President Xi Jinping has pushed for a muscular China, including calls last October to develop a “world-class” military by 2050.
China’s neighbors have watched warily as the People’s Liberation Army has upgraded its arsenal with increasingly sophisticated weaponry and sought to create a more effective and professional fighting force.
Upgrades to its nuclear arsenal have received less attention, partly because of its small size, estimated by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute at just 270 warheads compared to 6,800 for the US.
China has also long maintained it will never allow first use of its atomic weapons.
China “always abides by the principle of no first use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances,” Ren said, and will “unconditionally not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states.”
The US military wants to revamp its nuclear arsenal and develop new low-yield atomic weapons, largely in response to Russian actions in recent years, the Pentagon said.
Moscow on Saturday denounced the “bellicose” and “anti-Russian” nature of the new US nuclear policy, warning it would take necessary measures to ensure its own security. AFP
Iran also criticized the United States’ new nuclear policy, saying it brings humanity “closer to annihilation.”
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s comments came a day after the Pentagon revealed plans to revamp its nuclear arsenal, largely in response to a perceived renewed threat from Russia.
Zarif said the new policy was “in violation” of the international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
“The US Nuclear Posture Review reflects greater reliance on nukes in violation of the #NPT, bringing humankind closer to annihilation,” Zarif said on Twitter.
Zarif said the same impulse was driving the United States to undermine the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which President Donald Trump has demanded be renegotiated.
“Trump’s obduracy in killing the #JCPOA stems from the same dangerous imprudence,” Zarif wrote, using the technical name for the nuclear deal.
The latest Nuclear Posture Review published by the Pentagon called for a larger arsenal of smaller, low-yield nuclear weapons to act as a more “credible” deterrent to threats, particularly from Russia.
The NPT, which came into force in 1970 and has been signed by almost all countries including the United States, calls on nations “to achieve at the earliest possible date the cessation of the nuclear arms race and to undertake measures in the direction of nuclear disarmament.”
Iran’s nuclear deal, reached with six world powers, lifted some international sanctions in exchange for curbs to its nuclear program.
Trump has consistently attacked the accord and said in January he would not continue to waive sanctions unless new restrictions were placed on Iran’s missile program and wider actions in the Middle East.
The other parties — Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — as well as the European Union have strongly defended the deal, saying it has achieved its aim of limiting Iran’s ability to build a nuclear weapon.