China currently has about 25 silos (known ones) for launching ICBMs. However, it is proceeding at a “rapid pace” in the construction of another 240, more than those currently available to the United States and Russia. This was revealed by the Federation of American Scientists, the (non-profit and non partisan) organization founded in 1945 with the aim of offering scientific advice to decisions with an impact on the national security of the United States, born around the debate originating from the Manhattan Project. In recent days, the foundation has published a new analysis (anticipated by the New York Times) of satellite images, highlighting the construction of a new site beyond the one revealed at the beginning of July in Yumen, in the province of Gansu, in the central-northern part. of the country,CONCERNS
The US Strategic Command (which has jurisdiction over the American nuclear arsenal) was the first to relaunch the analysis, reiterating its concerns about the Dragon’s developments. Already in April, Admiral Charles Richard , commander of StratCom, had sent written testimony to the Armed Services committee of the US Senate, describing China’s “very opaque” nuclear policy, making it “difficult to determine its intentions”. The Dragon, according to the “evidence” cited by StratCom, would have put its nuclear forces in a state of greater alert, what the US defines as “Launch on warning”. America’s nuclear arsenal. THE NEW LAUNCH SITES
The new infrastructure revealed by the Federation of American Scientists is located 380 kilometers northwest of Yumen, near Hami prefecture in eastern Xinjiang. Matt Korda was the first to discover it, researcher of the federation’s “Nuclear information project”, who worked on common satellite images (Google Earth) and then moved on to those provided by Planet at higher resolutions. According to the analysis, the silos under construction in Hami would be in a perfect grid structure, at a distance of about three kilometers, with the relative support structures. Overall, the area would occupy 800 square kilometers (about two thirds of the area occupied by the Municipality of Rome, so to speak), as much as that occupied by the Yumen site, further on in development. In Hami, work began last March and is proceeding “at a rapid pace”. In four months, protective domes were built on “at least 14 silos”, while the land was worked “for the construction of another 19 silos”. The domes in question serve to keep the underlying temperature stable, but also to avoid prying eyes from above. The grid of the works on the ground would indicate that the goal is to create “about 110 silos”. The development of the works would be very similar to that observed in Yumen and in the smaller site of Jilantai, in Inner Mongolia, already known and hosting twelve launch silos.THE AMBITIONS
All would be dedicated to intercontinental ballistic carriers, with ranges exceeding 5,500 kilometers. We look above all at the DF-5, launchers from over 33 meters in height, developed since the 1960s, the first Chinese ICBMs (operational since the 1980s), also available in the “B” version for the launch of multiple warheads. The range would be 13 thousand kilometers, able to reach the US or European one from the Chinese territory. But the carriers available to Beijing are many, and not only those launched from silos (here the entire Chinese arsenal). Underlying it are the well-known great-power ambitions led by Xi Jinping, certified in the document released in July 2019, “China’s National Defense in the New Era”. About fifty pages in English (just to make known ambitions and claim interests to competitors) and a clearly written goal, “to advance fully in the modernization” of all segments of the Armed Forces by 2035, so as to have by the 2050 of a “world-class” military instrument. In the 2021 military budget there are 209 billion dollars, + 6.8% compared to last year, able to express a purchasing capacity considered by experts to be over two thirds of the American military budget (the pure numbers are to be evaluated in light of parity of purchasing power). AMONG NUMBERS …
There is a strong focus on the nuclear sector. About a year ago, while the US was discussing the exit from the Open Skies agreements, Hu Xijin, editor of Global Times (the Party’s world-wide tabloid) called on the government to increase the number of nuclear warheads to a thousand. According to the numbers of the Swedish think tank Sipri, which monitors the issue every year, from 2020 to mid-2021 China has increased its nuclear arsenal from 320 nuclear warheads to 350 (the Pentagon estimated 200 in September 2020). Apparently little remains compared to the 5,550 warheads of the United States and the 6,255 of Russia (which in any case have reduced their respective arsenals), even if by now the comparison is no longer on numbers, but on the technological evolution between miniaturization and hypersonic vectors. And for this reason the rise of Beijing on the nuclear front worries both Washington and Berlin, so much so that it ends up among the few meeting points between Joe Biden andVladimir Putin at the summit in mid-June in Geneva. … AND TREATMENTS
On that occasion, the two presidents signed a joint declaration on arms control, clarifying their willingness to launch “an in-depth dialogue” and to move on to “a new treaty”. The common concern for China is pushing in this direction. It is certainly no secret that the lack of determination put in place by the Americans and Russians to make the INF treaty survive (which prohibited the ground deployment of medium-range nuclear weapons, i.e. those with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers) was linked above all to intolerance towards obligations that did not bind Beijing, free to continue its missile modernization. And Beijing has in fact progressed considerably in recent years, including new intercontinental carriers, hypersonic glide missiles and increasingly modern nuclear warheads.

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