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Nuclear Disarmament China

China: NPT Nuclear Weapon State


DH-4 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, Wikimedia Commons


Arsenal Size

  • Most opaque of the nuclear weapon states; limited open source information.
  • Total inventory of nuclear warheads: approximately 250 [1]

Key Delivery Systems

  • Land-based missiles: Approximately 140. (ICBM: DF-4, DF-5A, DF-31, DF-31A; MRBM: DF-3A, DF-21) [2]
  • Aircraft: 20 (Hong-6) [3]
  • SLBM: 2 Jin-class SSBNs deployed with more under construction (12 missile capability per SSBN); approximately 12 JL-1 SLBMs and 36 JL-2 SLBMs (neither of which are fully operational) [4]
  • Cruise missiles: DH-10 (conventional or nuclear capability); estimated 200-500 missiles with 40-55 launchers. [5]
  • The warheads are controlled by the Central Military Commission and kept in central facilities located throughout China. If a nuclear threat should arise, nuclear warheads would be mated with missiles and SSBNs would have to be equipped with warheads before deployment. [6]
  • No credible evidence to confirm that non-strategic nuclear weapons still remain in the operational force. [7]

Estimated Destructive Power

Military Fissile Material Stockpile (estimates)

Disarmament and Commitments to Reduce Arsenal Size

  • Legal obligation to pursue disarmament with the other nuclear weapon states under Article VI of the NPT. [11]

Future Commitments

  • In support of negotiating a verifiable FMCT provided the treaty does not cover existing stockpiles. [12]

Nuclear Weapons Policies

Nuclear Testing

  • Has observed a nuclear testing moratorium since July 1996 [13]
  • Signed but did not ratify the CTBT. [14]

Use of Nuclear Weapons

Sources:
[1] Shannon N. Kile, and Hans M. Kristensen, "Chapter 6: World Nuclear Forces Overview" in SIPRI Yearbook 2013, SIPRI Summary, June 2013, www.sipri.org
[2] Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen, "Chinese Nuclear Forces, 2011," Nuclear Notebook, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, November/December 2011, pp. 81-87, www.thebulletin.org.
[3] Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen, "Chinese Nuclear Forces, 2011," Nuclear Notebook, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, November/December 2011, pp. 81-87, www.thebulletin.org.
[4] Hans M. Kristensen, "Chinese Jin-SSBNs Getting Ready?" FAS Strategic Security Blog, 2 June 2011, www.fas.org/blog/ssp; Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen, "Chinese Nuclear Forces, 2011," Nuclear Notebook, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, November/December 2011, pp. 81-87, www.thebulletin.org.
[5] Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen, "Chinese Nuclear Forces, 2011," Nuclear Notebook, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, November/December 2011, pp. 81-87, www.thebulletin.org.
[6] Mark A. Stokes, "China's Nuclear Warhead Storage and Handling System," Project 2049 Institute, 12 March 2010, www.project2049.net; Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen, "Chinese Nuclear Forces, 2011," Nuclear Notebook, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, November/December 2011, pp. 81-87, www.thebulletin.org.
[7] "Status of World Nuclear Forces," Federation of American Scientists, 7 May 2012, www.fas.org.
[8] Eliminating Nuclear Threats, ICNND Report, www.icnnd.org.
[9] International Panel on Fissile Materials, "Increasing Transparency of Nuclear-warhead and Fissile-material Stocks as a Step toward Disarmament," April 2013, www.fissilematerial.org.
[10] International Panel on Fissile Materials, "Increasing Transparency of Nuclear-warhead and Fissile-material Stocks as a Step toward Disarmament," April 2013, www.fissilematerial.org.
[11] Inventory of International Nonproliferation Organizations & Regimes, www.nti.org.
[12] "China's National Defense in 2010," Information Office of the State Council, The People's Republic of China (Beijing), March 2011, www.gov.cn/english.
[13] CTBTO website, Nuclear Testing page, www.ctbto.org.
[14] Inventory of International Nonproliferation Organizations & Regimes, www.nti.org; Kingston Reif, "The Case for the CTBT: Stronger than Ever," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: Web Edition, 9 April 2012, www.thebulletin.org.
[15] Statement by H.E. Mr. Wu Haitao, Chinese Ambassador for Disarmament Affairs on the Issue of Nuclear Disarmament at the First Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Review Conference, 3 May 2012, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
[16] Nuclear-Weapons-Free-Zone (NWFZ) Clearinghouse, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, cns.miis.edu.
[17] Peter Crail, "Progress Made on SE Asian Nuclear Pact," Arms Control Today, Vol. 41, December 2011, www.armscontrol.org.
[18] Nuclear-Weapons-Free-Zone (NWFZ) Clearinghouse, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, cns.miis.edu.
[19] "Nuclear Disarmament and the Reduction of the Danger of Nuclear War," Working Paper submitted by China to the 2015 NPT Review Conference, 27 April 2012, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.

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This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents.

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