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The U.S. doesn’t need more nuclear weapons to counter China’s new missile silos

The U.S. doesn’t need more nuclear weapons to counter China’s new missile silos

Our current nuclear arsenal is more than enough for whatever Beijing is building.  WP, 18 Oct 21
, By Edward GeistEdward Geist is a policy researcher at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation.

The discovery of what appear to be hundreds of new missile silos under construction in China has inspired arguments that imply the United States needs more nuclear weapons. Matthew Kroenig, a Defense Department adviser during the Trump administration, suggested in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed that “the Pentagon should study whether it can meet its deterrence requirements with existing stockpile numbers” in case “an increase … is necessary.”……….

But there’s little reason for the United States to worry much about whatever the Chinese military is building in these silos — and plenty of alternatives to building more nuclear weapons for dealing with it. The current U.S. nuclear arsenal was designed to guarantee deterrence even in the case of surprises such as this one. The nuclear weapons the United States already has should be adequate to counter the threat posed by new Chinese missiles even under very pessimistic assumptions. And if U.S. officials eventually decide they have to target the Chinese silos, nonnuclear weapons and sensors would provide a more credible deterrent than building additional nuclear weapons would……………………………………………….

deploying more nuclear weapons might not be necessary. If a “shell game” is China’s aim, the United States could use remote sensing or other intelligence means to ascertain where the actual missiles are located. This could enable planners to avoid targeting empty silos and minimize the needed weapons.A real game-changer, however, would be a conventional weapon that could kill a silo without using a nuclear warhead. Such weapons were researched extensively during the late Cold War. They weren’t achieved with 20th-century technology, but progress in fields such as machine vision, terminal guidance and geospatial mapping may make them feasible in the not-distant future.A nonnuclear option would give a U.S. president a much easier choice for countering the silos. Such weapons would not violate the nuclear taboo or risk the hard-to-predict collateral damage of nuclear detonations……….

October 19, 2021 - Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war

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