China and United States on Nukes

During a recent UNGA meeting, representatives from China and the United States had an exchange concerning China’s nuclear weapons program.

United States:

Turning to China, we stand by our statements that the People’s Republic of China is undertaking a significant expansion and modernization of its nuclear forces. We assess that it will increase its production of nuclear warheads to 1,500 by 2035. China’s lack of transparency as to the size and composition of its nuclear stockpile makes it difficult to gauge its intentions. In addition, it continues to rebuff substantive bilateral engagement on risk reduction with the United States. That destabilizing uncertainty extends to other areas. The People’s Republic of China is also developing new nuclear-fuel cycle capabilities to include plutonium production and reprocessing facilities that are very likely to support its nuclear force expansion. Notably, it is building two CFR-600 fast-breeder nuclear reactors, which are optimized for the production of weapon-grade plutonium. It has made the choice to start up the breeder reactors using HEU fuel rather than MOX fuel. Using HEU fuel as the reactor fuel enables the production of weapon-grade plutonium in the reactor core. Each year, each of the People’s Republic of China’s CFR-600 reactors could produce enough plutonium for dozens of nuclear warheads.


I will be very brief. The representative of the United States, in exercising the right of reply, once again anticipated that by 2035, China’s nuclear capability will develop further. Moreover, she questioned China’s intent in developing its nuclear capabilities. Those areall groundless projections, and I would therefore like to state a few facts. China’s nuclear policy is highly transparent, and China has always explicitly revealed its intentions in that regard. China remains steadfast on a path of peaceful development and abides by its nuclear strategy of self-defence. It is also the only country among the five nuclear Powers to commit to refraining from being the first to use nuclear weapons. China has always advocated that the nuclear Powers should all be committed to refraining from using nuclear weapons. They should sign and ratify all the relevant treaties, honour their commitments to refraining from targeting any country with their nuclear weapons or formulating a nuclear deterrence policy against any country, with a view to avoiding accidents and any unauthorized launch of nuclear weapons. China feels compelled to ask the representative of the United States whether her country is willing to undertake the same commitment with regard to refraining from being the first to use nuclear weapons. We believe that kind of transparency would be very meaningful.

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