China is in the process of modernising its nuclear arsenal to increase the rate of its survivability in case of a first strike and has been working on increasing its penetration capacity as well as safety features,a senior PLA General has said in a candid admission on the status of it strategic weapons.
China has also tried to allay fears that the large underground facilities that have been created by it in recent years that first came to light in 2009 and have raised global concern are only aimed at protecting its nuclear weapons from a first strike.
China is modernising its strategic arsenal to enhance penetration,increase survivability and enhance safety, Major General Yao Yunzhu,director of Center on China-American Defense Relations,Academy of Military Science,said in a discussion on deterrence and disarmament at the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference here on Monday.
Yunzhu,considered to be a leading voice from the Chinese strategic community,has said Beijing has been focusing primarily in the past few years to keep its nuclear arsenal safe,as it fears that there is a possibility of a strike to disarm it.
Facing several questions on the purpose and intent of the large tunnel network that has emerged as a contentious point in recent years,Yao described as laughable the speculation that it may be hiding a large quantity of nuclear strike weapons.
China has a no first use policy and its arsenal should fulfil three criteria small,second strike capability and the ability to deter.Survivability is key to this, Yao said,without directly responding to questions on the actual size of its nuclear weapons stockpile.
The General,however,contended that China has kept its nuclear weapons arsenal small and at a consistent level for several years,downplaying comments that there could be a dramatic increase in the size of the capabilities which necessitated the underground facilities.
China does not seek to be a military superpower. (hence) Its nuke arsenal has remained small and consistent, she said.
However,the General hinted that China may need to reconsider its strategic policy if additional ballistic missile defence systems are deployed in East Asia by the US,driving the point that introduction of such systems could have a negative impact on disarmament.
(The reporter in attending the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference on the invitation of the Carnegie Endowment)