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OMAHA—China is aggressively building up nuclear warfighting forces as part of a larger effort to expand power over Asia and globally, according to senior officials of the U.S. Strategic Command.
Vice Admiral David Kriete, deputy commander of the command, said he is concerned by China's rapidly growing nuclear arsenal when combined with other alarming activities in the South China Sea and elsewhere.
China - Couple - Decades - Trajectory - Numbers
"China is and has been for the last couple of decades on a very clear trajectory where they're increasing the numbers of nuclear weapons that they field, they're increasing the number of and diversity of the delivery systems," Kriete said in a press briefing.
"They are working on fielding a triad—ballistic missile submarines, strategic bombers, and land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles."
Addition - Delivery - System - Beijing - Weapons
In addition to a delivery system, Beijing is expanding its nuclear weapons production capabilities that will "allow them to continue on this trend or actually increase it in the future should they so choose," the three-star admiral said.
Regional missile systems that do not have the same range as strategic missiles are being fielded.
Kriete - China - No-first-use - Policy - Statement
Kriete also questioned China's declared no-first-use policy, the statement that Chinese military forces would not be the first to use nuclear arms in a conflict.
"When it comes to the no-first-use policy, I have read about this no-first-use policy," he said. "Beyond that statement, they don't talk much about it, so I'm not exactly sure what it is."
Kriete - Buildup - Context - China - Expansion
Kriete said the nuclear buildup should be viewed within the context of China's regional and global expansion.
"China's leadership has made it clear in recent years that they have goals of becoming a regional power and exerting—economic and military—over the western Pacific at some point in the future," he said. "And then obtaining some level of global influence at some point after that."
Activities - Pacific - Goals
Chinese military activities in the western Pacific are supporting those goals.
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