U.S. warns China is building more nuclear missile silos

Jul 30, 2021, 12:36 AM | Updated: 12:51 am
This June 4, 2021, satellite image provided by Planet Labs Inc. shows what analysts believe is a fi...

This June 4, 2021, satellite image provided by Planet Labs Inc. shows what analysts believe is a field of intercontinental ballistic missile silos near Yumen, China. The U.S. military is warning about what analysts have described as a major expansion of China's nuclear missile silo fields, at a time of heightened tension between the U.S. and China. (Planet Labs Inc. via AP)

(Planet Labs Inc. via AP)

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — The U.S. military is warning about what analysts have described as a major expansion of China’s nuclear missile silo fields at a time of heightened tension between Beijing and Washington.

Researchers at the Federation of American Scientists estimate that China has approximately 250 underground missile silos under construction after they used satellite imagery to identify a new field being built in western China.

U.S. Strategic Command tweeted a link Wednesday to a story in The New York Times on the federation’s findings, which were published this week.

“The public has discovered what we have been saying all along about the growing threat the world faces and the veil of secrecy that surrounds it,” said Strategic Command, which oversees America’s nuclear arsenal.

The field in the Xinjiang region is the second one reported this summer. In June, researchers at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in California identified another field under construction in neighboring Gansu province.

China has not commented on the reports. Asked about the latest one, the Foreign Ministry said Friday that it was not aware of the situation.

The reports come at a time when relations between the U.S. and China have plunged to their worst level in decades. The two nations remain sharply at odds over a range of issues, including trade, technology, cybersecurity, human rights and China’s increasingly assertive foreign policy under President Xi Jinping.

The expansion of China’s nuclear force would likely factor into any U.S. calculations for potential military confrontations over flashpoints such as Taiwan or the South China Sea.

The outspoken editor of the state-owned Global Times newspaper said this week that U.S. institutions and the media are hyping the reports about the missile fields to pressure China, but that the nation shouldn’t be cowed.

“Look at what American politicians are saying about China and look at the provocative actions of their warplanes and warships near China,” Hu Xijin said. “China must fully step up construction of its military force and nuclear deterrence as the cornerstone of its national security.”

Both sites are around 800 square kilometers (300 square miles). Ground-based silos can house intercontinental ballistic missiles. Spreading the silos across such a wide area makes targeting the field much more complicated. Analysts say some of the silos may serve as decoys as well.

“The Chinese missile silo program constitutes the most extensive silo construction since the U.S. and Soviet missile silo construction during the Cold War,” researchers Matt Korda and Hans Kristensen wrote in the Federation of American Scientists report.

Kuo Yu-jen, a defense studies expert at the Institute for National Policy Research in Taiwan, said it’s very difficult to get an accurate count of the underground silos of any country, but that the recently released satellite imagery looks “very, very similar” to missile silos.

He characterized the findings as a warning by the U.S. to others that China, in developing its nuclear weapon capabilities, is violating an international consensus geared toward nuclear disarmament.

“It’s also to let Russia know. China, if it increases its number of missiles, it threatens not only the U.S., but also Russia and Europe,” said Kuo, the director at the Institute for National Policy Research in Taiwan.

The U.S. and Russia, who have the world’s largest nuclear arsenals, held inconclusive talks this week in Geneva in a bid to avoid a new nuclear arms race.

China’s nuclear arsenal is estimated by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute at 350 warheads, while the United States or Russia each has about 6,000. The Pentagon says China will at least double the size of its arsenal in 10 years.

The recent research follows a finding by Kristensen in February of construction of 11 underground silos at a vast missile training range near Jilantai in north-central China.

___

Gambrell contributed to this report from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              This July 25, 2021, satellite image provided by Planet Labs Inc. shows what analysts believe is construction on an intercontinental ballistic missile silo near Hami, China. The U.S. military is warning about what analysts have described as a major expansion of China's nuclear missile silo fields, at a time of heightened tension between the U.S. and China. (Planet Labs Inc. via AP)
            
              This composite photo of satellite images taken in June 2021 provided by Planet Labs Inc. shows what analysts believe is a field of intercontinental ballistic missile silos near Hami, China. The U.S. military is warning about what analysts have described as a major expansion of China's nuclear missile silo fields, at a time of heightened tension between the U.S. and China. (Planet Labs Inc. via AP)
            
              This June 4, 2021, satellite image provided by Planet Labs Inc. shows what analysts believe is a field of intercontinental ballistic missile silos near Yumen, China. The U.S. military is warning about what analysts have described as a major expansion of China's nuclear missile silo fields, at a time of heightened tension between the U.S. and China. (Planet Labs Inc. via AP)
            This June 4, 2021, satellite image provided by Planet Labs Inc. that has been annotated by experts at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at Middlebury Institute of International Studies shows what analysts believe is a field of intercontinental ballistic missile silos near Yumen, China. The U.S. military is warning about what analysts have described as a major expansion of China's nuclear missile silo fields, at a time of heightened tension between the U.S. and China. (Planet Labs Inc., James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at Middlebury Institute of International Studies via AP) This June 29, 2021, satellite image provided by Planet Labs Inc. that has been annotated by experts at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at Middlebury Institute of International Studies shows what analysts believe is a field of intercontinental ballistic missile silos near Yumen, China. The U.S. military is warning about what analysts have described as a major expansion of China's nuclear missile silo fields, at a time of heightened tension between the U.S. and China. (Planet Labs Inc., James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at Middlebury Institute of International Studies via AP)

AP

An inflatable depicting the World Cup trophy is seen during pregame celebrations prior to the World...
Associated Press

Saudi viewers angry over apparent ban on World Cup streaming

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — World Cup viewers in Saudi Arabia say the government has blocked a Qatari-owned streaming service that was supposed to broadcast matches in the kingdom. The suspension has stunned and outraged customers of TOD TV, which holds the rights to show the World Cup in Saudi Arabia. TOD TV is owned by […]
9 hours ago
FILE - Vern Miyagi, Administrator, HEMA, left, and Hawaii Gov. David Ige addressed the media during...
Associated Press

Hawaii Gov. Ige looks back on coronavirus, tourism shutdown

HONOLULU (AP) — As Hawaii’s governor, David Ige faced a volcanic eruption that destroyed 700 homes, protests blocking construction of a cutting-edge multibillion-dollar telescope and a false alert about an incoming ballistic missile. During the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism shut down and Hawaii’s unemployment rate soared to 22.4%. Crisis response is one way to sum up […]
9 hours ago
Sheetal Deo and her husband, Sanmeet Deo, hold a Hindu swastika symbol in their home in Syosset, N....
Associated Press

Asian faiths try to save sacred swastika corrupted by Hitler

Sheetal Deo was shocked when she got a letter from her Queens apartment building’s co-op board calling her Diwali decoration “offensive” and demanding she take it down. “My decoration said ‘Happy Diwali’ and had a swastika on it,” said Deo, a physician, who was celebrating the Hindu festival of lights. The equilateral cross with its […]
9 hours ago
Sheetal Deo and her husband, Sanmeet Deo, hold a Hindu swastika symbol in their home in Syosset, N....
Associated Press

Asian faiths try to save swastika symbol corrupted by Hitler

Sheetal Deo was shocked when she got a letter from her Queens apartment building’s co-op board calling her Diwali decoration “offensive” and demanding she take it down. “My decoration said ‘Happy Diwali’ and had a swastika on it,” said Deo, a physician, who was celebrating the Hindu festival of lights. The equilateral cross with its […]
9 hours ago
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp campaigns alongside Senate candidate Herschel Walker on Saturday, Nov. 19, ...
Associated Press

Ga. Senate runoff between Warnock, Walker has bitter closing

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. (AP) — Ads with the candidates’ ex-wives. Cries of “liar” flying in both directions. Stories of a squalid apartment building and abortions under pressure. Questioning an opponent’s independence. His intellect. His mental stability. His religious faith. The extended Senate campaign in Georgia between the Democratic incumbent, Raphael Warnock, and his Republican challenger, […]
9 hours ago
FILE - Former Minister for Health Matt Hancock arrives with MP's and Peers for a service of remembr...
Associated Press

Disgraced former UK minister seeks reality TV redemption

LONDON (AP) — Matt Hancock, the U.K’s scandal-prone former health secretary, is seeking an unlikely form of redemption Sunday: attempting to win “I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here” — a grueling, often gruesome reality show set in the Australian jungle. Hancock led Britain’s response to COVID-19 in the first year of the pandemic, […]
9 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
...
SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
U.S. warns China is building more nuclear missile silos