The U.S. military has notified Congress that China now has more land-based intercontinental-range missile launchers than the U.S., fueling the debate about how Washington should respond to Beijing’s nuclear buildup.
“The number of land-based fixed and mobile ICBM launchers in China exceeds the number of ICBM launchers in the United States,” the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, which oversees nuclear forces, wrote the Senate’s and House’s Armed Services Committees on Jan. 26.
The notification comes as the U.S. is facing the challenge of deterring Russia’s substantial nuclear forces as well as China’s growing nuclear arsenal. U.S. lawmakers are involved in an increasingly heated debate about how best to counter Beijing, including the Pentagon’s response to the Chinese surveillance balloon that recently traversed the U.S. and hovered over Montana, where a portion of the American military’s ICBM arsenal is deployed.
The U.S., which is modernizing all three legs of its land, sea and air based nuclear arsenal, has a much larger nuclear force than China.