A top U.S. military official told Congress that China has surpassed the United States in land-based intercontinental range missile launchers, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The newspaper attributed the information to a Jan. 26 letter from the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command to the House and Senate Armed Services committees.
“The number of land-based fixed and mobile ICBM launchers in China exceeds the number of ICBM launchers in the United States,” the commander wrote.
The Journal noted the letter came as the U.S. is dealing with how to deter Russia’s nuclear forces and China’s nuclear arsenal.
It also came as tensions have increased between the U.S. and China over the Chinese spy balloon shot down last week after it had crossed the U.S. The balloon hovered over Montana, where a portion of the U.S. ICBM arsenal is located.
Insider reported that the China spy balloon was operating near a base that houses 150 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The Strategic Command also told Congress that the U.S. has more intercontinental-range, land-based missiles, and more nuclear warheads mounted on those missiles, than China.
The newspaper said Republican lawmakers are urging the U.S. to increase its nuclear forces.
“China is rapidly approaching parity with the United States,” said Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. “We cannot allow that to happen. The time for us to adjust our force posture and increase capabilities to meet this threat is now.”
The Pentagon said in a policy document last year that by the 2030s the U.S. will, for the first time, face two major nuclear powers as strategic competitors and potential adversaries.
Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists said of the China silos: “They are building a significant number of silos, but we don’t know how many missiles or warheads they are going to put in them.”
The Journal said most U.S. officials presume the silos will have nuclear tipped intercontinental missiles by the next decade.
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