Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday the Trump administration is making sure it has the tools it needs to respond to any threat from China following a U.S. government report that says China plans to double its nuclear warheads over ten years.
The annual Pentagon report on China’s military, released Tuesday, said, “Over the next decade, China’s nuclear warhead stockpile — currently estimated to be in the low 200s — is projected to at least double in size as China expands and modernizes its nuclear forces.”
A senior Pentagon official said the ability to double its stockpile not only demonstrates a move away from their historical minimum deterrence posture but places China in a position where it could “readily” grow beyond that number.
“Combined with a near-complete lack of transparency regarding their strategic intent and the perceived need for a much larger, more diverse nuclear force, these developments pose a significant concern for the United States,” Chad Sbragia, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for China, said during a Pentagon briefing Monday.
Asked by Breitbart News how the U.S. and allies should respond, Pompeo said the report was not news to anyone following China’s military growth in past years.
But, he said, the Trump administration is the first one that has “truly called out the Chinese Communist Party for this military aggression, this buildup that it has undertaken and then in course responded to it.”
“We have done a number of things,” he said.
He said President Trump has proposed and gotten passed the largest defense budgets in American history.
“Seven hundred-plus billion dollars, two years running, so we are making sure that America has the tools it needs to respond to any threat, including threats to emanate from the Chinese Communist Party,” he said.
On the issue of nuclear warheads, he said the administration has implored China to be part of ongoing talks to limit nuclear weapons stockpiles.
“It’s in their best strategic interest, it’s in our best strategic interest, it’s in the world’s strategic interest to reduce the risk from these most dangerous weapons systems,” he said.
He added, “We’re in productive conversations with the Russians on this very [issue] — if the Chinese Communist Party is serious about participating on the global stage and being a nation of size and scale that is part of this community, then it has an obligation.”
He said China last year tested more missiles than all Western nations combined.
“If you’re ever going to be serious, you have to you have to use those in a way that is consistent with how nations undertake their obligations under the nuclear proliferation treaties and all those obligations written, unwritten, signed and unsigned, and then they should enter in these strategic conversations,” he said.
“We want to make sure that the risk of using those weapons systems, in particular, is diminished, and we stand ready to have them join this conversation with the Russians. I hope that they will,” he said.