The editors of the Washington Post summarize the recent findings of rapid expansion of China’s nuclear weapons capability:
One month ago, a disturbing report based on satellite imagery showed that China was building about 120 silos for intercontinental ballistic missiles near Yumen in Gansu province, some 1,300 miles west of Beijing. At the time, we raised questions about China’s intentions. Now, a new report has identified a second field taking shape, with about 110 silos near Hami in eastern Xinjiang, 240 miles northwest of the first site. Considering other locations where missile silos are under construction, China seems to be aiming for a tenfold increase in intercontinental ballistic missiles if each silo were filled. What is going on?
An unanswered question is what China thinks it will gain by vaulting to a nuclear posture closer to that of the United States and Russia. The response by the United States and the West is either more nuclear weapons — a new arms race — or nuclear arms control, in which China has not shown much interest. The new missile silos are an ominous sign of a growing challenge, made even more vexing by the other tensions between Washington and Beijing.
In my view while we should be modernizing our nuclear deterrence and missile capabilities, we should refrain from taking more strenuous actions in response to this Chinese build-up but that wasn’t the question that occurred to me on learning of it. I wondered what would Japan do?
I would not be a bit surprised if we saw Japan working on a nuclear deterrent of its own. Not to mention Taiwan. India, which already has a nuclear arsenal, may start increasing it. Cold War II, indeed.