THE China is seeking to expand and modernize its nuclear arsenal at an unprecedented level to increase its deterrent power in the event of a conflict with the United States, experts say.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), China has an arsenal of 350 nuclear warheads, far behind the Russia (4.477) and the USA (3,708).

However, Beijing may have 1,500 by 2035 nuclear warheadsis predicted in the US Department of Defense report released in November.

“China seems to no longer want to be content with a few hundred nuclear weapons to ensure its security,” says Matt Korda of the Federation of American Scientists, a US non-governmental organization that primarily studies nuclear proliferation.

After its first nuclear test in 1964, China was content to maintain a small arsenal and vowed never to use a nuclear first weapon, assuring that it would only resort to it if it were itself a nuclear target.

Over the past decade, President Xi Jinping has encouraged a sweeping modernization of the armed forces, notably improving its nuclear capabilities.

“China is currently undertaking the most significant expansion and modernization of its nuclear forces in its entire history,” David Logan, a professor at the Naval War College, a US research and training institute, told AFP. Navy.

According to him, this country seeks not only to increase the production of missiles, but also to improve its ability to launch them – from the ground, from an airplane or from a submarine.

China is also “rapidly” building intercontinental ballistic missile launch facilities and has a total of more than 300 silos, according to the US Department of Defense.

But there are obstacles to China rapidly building up its nuclear arsenal, experts say, as it has limited means to produce the fissile materials necessary to build nuclear warheads. Russia could potentially offer her help.

Beijing and Moscow pledged to strengthen their nuclear cooperation during Xi Jinping’s recent summit with Vladimir Putin.