China has started the construction of more than 100 new ballistic missile silos near the city of Yumen in the province of Gansu, US media reported.
A total of 119 almost identical construction sites in Gansu show elements featured by the existing Chinese launch facilities, The Washington Post newspaper reported, citing commercial satellite images obtained by researchers at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey.
According to experts, the number of new missiles for these silos could be much smaller.
“If the silos under construction at other sites across China are added to the count, the total comes to about 145 silos under construction,” Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, a part of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, told The Washington Post.
He stressed that China was expanding its nuclear forces to deter the United States, survive the latter’s possible first nuclear strike and be capable of defeating the US missile defense.
Currently, China has over 300 nuclear warheads, much smaller than the United States and Russia that have thousands of nuclear warheads despite the disarmament efforts.