President Biden has agreed to hold arms control talks with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping as China indicates a move to build up its nuclear arsenal, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the two leaders agreed during their virtual summit to move forward with discussions on nuclear strategic stability amid growing concerns about Beijing’s accelerated pace of adding more warheads to its nuclear stockpile.
The Department of Defense estimated in a recent report that China could increase its nuclear warhead from its current count of 350 to 700 in six years and 1,000 by 2030.
The U.S. has a much larger weapons arsenal with about 3,750 warheads, but government officials and defense experts say the Pentagon has concerns about the motive behind China’s rapid development of missiles.
In its newly released annual report to Congress, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission said Beijing’s nuclear buildup suggests it could be intended to support a “new strategy of limited nuclear first use” that would enable Chinese leaders to deter U.S. intervention in a war over Taiwan.
The two leaders have yet to decide on a format for the discussions, but a Chinese official told WSJ that the parties could engage in a Track II dialogue that would involve defense experts from the private sector and academia.