The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

China’s spy balloon can help deflate US nuclear tensions with Beijing

Defense News, By David Gompert and Hans Binnendijk 8 Feb 23

The row over China’s surveillance balloon could, once the dust settles, present a chance to begin lessening the risk of nuclear war between the two superpowers.

While the United States is right to charge China with violating its airspace in an apparent attempt to spy on America’s strategic missile systems in Montana, this episode reminds us that the two nations have no mechanism to exchange views and clear up misconceptions on the purpose of their respective nuclear arsenal.

Consequently, suspicions abound.

It is understandable that this infamous spy balloon has riled up the American body politic. Yet, it is important to keep the strategic situation in mind. The United States and China are in a stable state of mutual deterrence, meaning that neither power could launch a nuclear first strike on the other without inviting devastating retaliation. That said, the greater the mutual suspicions about intent, the greater the danger that this stability could fail.

The absence of a way to build mutual confidence between the United States and China regarding nuclear weapons and nuclear war is potentially dangerous. The United States is unsure what to make of China’s build-up of its nuclear arsenal, and China is fearful that the United States seeks the capability to deny China a credible deterrent. What makes this situation increasingly perilous are the rising tensions in Sino-U.S. relations in the Pacific and the growing risks of escalating crises and even war there.

In an article in the journal Survival to be published soon, we spell out the case and agenda for a process whereby the superpowers could clarify why they have nuclear weapons and the doctrines governing their use.

Specifically, we recommend direct and candid bilateral strategic stability talks on nuclear doctrines, forces, intentions, and worries. This would be coupled with confidence-building measures such as providing prior notifications of missile testing, clarifying the purpose of new weapons, and managing disconcerting intelligence. 

This could reduce suspicions, such as Chinese fears that the United States aspires to have a first-strike capability and American fears that China will relentlessly expand its capability to target U.S. deterrent forces. Each nation would of course continue independent intelligence-gathering. But “worst-case” interpretation of intelligence could be mitigated by dialogue.

These strategic stability talks might include implementing a bold concept: a bilateral US-Chinese pledge not to use nuclear weapons first against each other or against the other nation’s treaty allies……………………………. more

February 9, 2023 - Posted by | China, politics international, USA

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: