Satellite images indicate China is rapidly growing its arsenal of nuclear weapons | Sky News Australia
Satellite pictures taken of China’s Xinjiang province over the last week reveal the construction of what appears to be a nuclear missile silo field containing underground facilities for the storage and launching of missiles.
It comes after reports from The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) only weeks earlier of a different missile storage field containing 120 silos under construction in Gansu province near Yumen.
The US Strategic Command which comes under the Department of Defense and looks after deterrence measures posted about China’s latest nuclear actions on Twitter.
“This is the second time in two months the public has discovered what we have been saying all along about the growing threat the world faces and the veil of secrecy that surrounds it,” the US Strategic Command said.
The Hami storage facility located in Xinjiang covers 800 square kilometres and is only in the initial stages of development. High resolution satellite images were provided by Planet and dated to July 25.
Construction started in March this year and has continued at a rapid pace with dome-shaped shelters set up over 14 silos and groundwork laid for 19 more silos according to the FAS.
Scientists have predicted the complex could contain up to 110 silos when completed and the two new sites constitute the “most significant expansion of the Chinese nuclear arsenal” according to the FAS.
In 2020 the Pentagon warned China was on track to double its nuclear warhead stockpile and reports of the two new sites come as the US and Russia prepare for arms control talks.
At the time of the Pentagon’s warning China had at least 200 warheads while the United States is understood to have 3,800.
A recent in-person meeting between US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has been viewed by some as an opportunity revive negotiations on nuclear arms reduction target
China has not yet joined any arms control talks and face-to-face discussions between Ms Sherman and Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng held a few days ago did not address weapons storage programs.
At the meeting China set out three demands relating to the nation’s government, development and sovereignty.
The missile silo domes are used to control the climate underneath while sensitive activities are carried out. The storage sites at the new Xinjiang site are separated by close to three kilometres.