Nuclear arms race
China says US Pentagon report on nuclear warheads distorts facts
BEIJING, Oct 20 (Reuters) - A U.S. Pentagon report saying China will probably have more than 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030 was filled with prejudice and distorts facts, and China had no intention of engaging in a nuclear arms race, its foreign ministry said on Friday.
“First of all, the United States report, like similar reports before it, ignores the facts, is full of prejudice and spreads the theory of the threat posed by China,” ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told a press briefing in response to a question about the U.S. report.
Mao did not elaborate.
The Pentagon said in an annual report released on Thursday that China had more than 500 operational nuclear warheads in its arsenal, as of May.
“China firmly adheres to a nuclear strategy of self-defence and defence, we have always maintained our nuclear forces at the lowest level required for national security, and we have no intention of engaging in a nuclear arms race with any country,” Mao said.
The report added that China’s Navy had more than 370 ships and submarines, up from the 340 ships last year.
“As long as any country does not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against China, it will not be threatened by China’s nuclear weapons,” Mao said.
The Pentagon had previously raised alarms about China’s possible growing arsenal, underscoring its intentions to expand its warhead development. In a report last November, it said China would likely have a stockpile of 1,500 nuclear warheads by 2035.
(Reporting by Joe Cash; Writing by Bernard Orr; Editing by Kim Coghill)