The head of U.S. Strategic Command earlier this month said he does not believe that China has surreptitiously massively expanded its nuclear arsenal, as has been speculated by some experts.
"I do not believe that China has hundreds or thousands more nuclear weapons than what the intelligence community has been saying, ... that the Chinese arsenal is in the range of several hundred" weapons, said Air Force Gen. Robert Kehler in transcripted remarks obtained by the Federation of American Scientists.
Kehler's comments are a rejection of recent projections disseminated by a Georgetown University professor and the ex-head of Russia's strategic missile forces, who respectively speculated China had expanded its atomic arsenal up to 3,000 warheads and 1,600 to 1,800 warheads.
Nuclear-weapon experts Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris presently project China possesses about 240 such armaments.
Kristensen, who heads the Federation of American Scientists' Nuclear Information Project, acknowledged that China alone among the five formal nuclear powers "appears to be increasing the size of its warhead inventory." However, "that increase is modest and appears to be slower than the U.S. intelligence community projected a decade ago," he added in a Wednesday blog post.
"Those who see an interest in exaggerating China's nuclear developments thrive on secrecy, so it is important that China -- and others who know -- provide some basic information about trends and developments to avoid exaggerated estimates," Kristensen stated.