US Ambassador to China condemns Russia's war on Ukraine
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Although not entirely approving of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China continues to engage with its neighbour and longtime ally in the east. Their relationship remains primarily business-led, one they have strengthened since the Ukraine “special military operation” commenced in February. They haven’t firmed their military ties in quite the same way, but the two nations bristle with nuclear weapons, and China has publicly pledged to build more.
The Chinese Government is among the world’s most secretive, and domestic initiatives are kept strictly under wraps.
But western powers believe China is chief among the nations with stockpiles in the three-figure range and third only to Russia and the US, who possess 6,257 and 5,550 each.
Roughly 100 of these are Inter-continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) capable of reaching western nations.
Xi Jinping has approximately 350 warheads, including an innovative delivery type that recently shocked the scientific community.
China is one of few nations with hypersonic delivery systems able to travel several times the speed of sound.
In August 2021, the nation conducted a hypersonic test that shocked US intelligence as it launched a missile that circled the globe before hitting its target.
The missile – which could carry a nuclear warhead – travelled at five times the speed of sound (1,715 metres per second).
In action, a missile travelling at this speed would outrun most western interception systems.
While western intelligence agencies have only noted one test, Mr Xi is reportedly pursuing proliferation.
The US Department of Defence believes China will attempt to acquire enough warheads to outnumber supplies held by its closest nuclear competitors put together.
In December 2021, the Pentagon released a report that outlined suspected plans by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to accelerate development.
By 2027, the Pentagon estimated, the party would double the number of warheads at its disposal.
Over the next five years, officials believe China could create another 350 warheads, and 650 more by 2030.
Proliferation on this scale would bring the country’s overall numbers to 700 and 1,000.
That would make the nation the third in history to acquire an arsenal in the four-figure range and vastly outmatch both the UK and France.
The two European countries are the best armed on the continent, with approximately 225 and 290 nuclear warheads each.
There are only four more nuclear-capable nations in the world.
Pakistan and India are just behind Europe with 165 and 156 warheads each, while Israel has 90.
North Korea is also on the list, with an estimated 40 to 50 warheads, and missile tests show it has the equipment to unleash them.
The country, which has previously conducted missile tests over Japan and South Korea, reportedly has enough fissile material to make six to seven more weapons a year.
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