China Wants More Nuclear-Armed Submarines
Should we worry?
Tong Zhao is a fellow in Carnegie’s Nuclear Policy Program based at the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy. He has written a useful explainer on China’s nuclear arsenal, focusing on the Chinese navy’s growing fleet of ballistic-missile submarines.
“For many years, China has mostly relied on land-based nuclear weapons as its strategic deterrent,” Zhao wrote. “But now its fleet of nuclear-armed submarines is getting larger and more advanced. This long-term trend has far-reaching implications.”
Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy art
What does China’s nuclear capability look like now compared to other nuclear-armed countries? China releases no official information about its nuclear weapons stockpile. However, according to open-source research, China currently has fewer than 300 nuclear warheads.
China also has a wide range of nuclear weapon delivery systems. These are mostly ballistic missiles of various ranges, which can carry nuclear warheads to targets around the world.
Unlike those of the United States and Russia, it is commonly believed that China’s nuclear weapons are kept in storage and are not deployed on active alert in peacetime.