James Jay Carafano
The U.S. is openly reporting China surpassed U.S. in ICBM launchers. The news that China has surpassed the U.S. in its number of ICBM launchers comes as no surprise as China engages in a rapid nuclear buildup as part of its strategy to achieve regional if not global hegemony.
We asked our nuclear weapons expert P.J. Geller to give us an assessment.
Why is this news important? This announcement means that China must have already completed construction of hundreds of new missile silos that were initially detected by public imagery less than two years ago.
How does this link to the spy balloon story? China increased effort to surveil the U.S. nuclear response infrastructure, which was probably the mission of the recent Chinese spy balloon that traversed the U.S., is likely part of China’s effort to map and target the U.S. ballistic missiles and command and control architecture.
So, what are the implications of this for the U.S.? As China moves to nuclear parity, we will enter a new era of strategic competition. The value of extended deterrence will be challenged. The efficacy of arms control agreements to stem the expansion of nuclear arsenals will virtually disappear. The balance of conventional and strategic forces will be more important. A mix of a sufficient nuclear arsenal paired with robust missile defense and adequate conventional deterrence will be required for maximum stability in strategic competition.