China has urged the US to drop its “Cold War mentality” after Washington said it planned to diversify its nuclear armoury with smaller bombs.
“The country that owns the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, should take the initiative to follow the trend instead of going against it,” China’s defence ministry said on Sunday.
The US military believes its nukes are seen as too big to be used and wants to develop low-yield bombs.
Russia has already condemned the plan.
What exactly is the new US policy?
The US is concerned about its nuclear arsenal becoming obsolete and no longer an effective deterrent. It names China, Russia, North Korea and Iran as potential threats.
The Pentagon document released on Friday, known as the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), argues that developing smaller nuclear weapons would challenge that assumption. Low-yield weapons with a strength of under 20 kilotons are less powerful but are still devastating. The policy also proposes:
- Land-based ballistic missiles, submarine-launched missiles, and air-delivered weapons – to be extensively modernised, as begun under ex-President Obama
- Proposed modification of some submarine-launched nuclear warheads to give a lower-yield or less powerful detonation
- Return of sea-based nuclear cruise missiles
Countering the “growing threat from revisionist powers”, such as China and Russia, was at the heart of America’s new defence strategy announced last month.
What did China say?
China said on Sunday it “firmly” opposed the Pentagon’s review of US nuclear policy.
The defence ministry in Beijing said Washington had played up the threat of China’s nuclear threat, adding that its own policy was defensive in nature.