China’s Nuke Arsenal May Be Bigger Than We Thought

So, a team of Georgetown University undergrads has just published research claiming to show that China’s nuclear arsenal may be far bigger than we think it is! The best part? The arsenal is hidden inside thousands of miles of tunnels all over the massive country.

After three years of work analyzing open-source documents (press reports, blog postings, PLA publications, Google Earth and even Chinese TV shows), the students led by their professor, former Pentagon strategist Phillip Karber, to say 3,000 miles worth of tunnels may be hiding up to 3,000 nuclear warheads in China.

Here’s an excerpt from a Washington Post article on the subject:

The Chinese have called it their “Underground Great Wall” — a vast network of tunnels designed to hide their country’s increasingly sophisticated missile and nuclear arsenal.

For the past three years, a small band of obsessively dedicated students at Georgetown University has called it something else: homework.

Led by their hard-charging professor, a former top Pentagon official, they have translated hundreds of documents, combed through satellite imagery, obtained restricted Chinese militarydocuments and waded through hundreds of gigabytes of online data.

The result of their effort? The largest body of public knowledge about thousands of miles of tunnels dug by the Second Artillery Corps, a secretive branch of the Chinese military in charge of protecting and deploying its ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads.

The study is yet to be released, but already it has sparked a congressional hearing and been circulated among top officials in the Pentagon, including the Air Force vice chief of staff.

Most of the attention has focused on the 363-page study’s provocative conclusion — that China’s nuclear arsenal could be many times larger than the well-established estimates of arms-control experts.

“It’s not quite a bombshell, but those thoughts and estimates are being checked against what people think they know based on classified information,” said a Defense Department strategist who would discuss the study only on the condition of anonymity.

Western estimates have pegged China’s nuke arsenal at 80 to 400 warheads.

Based on the number of tunnels the Second Artillery is digging and its increasing deployment of missiles, he argues, China’s nuclear warheads could number as many as 3,000.

Still, not everyone is buying into the validity of the student’s open source intel work:

Gregory Kulacki, a China nuclear analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, publicly condemned Karber’s report at a recent lecture in Washington. In an interview afterward, he called the 3,000 figure “ridiculous” and said the study’s methodology — especially its inclusion of posts from Chinese bloggers — was “incompetent and lazy.”

“The fact that they’re building tunnels could actually reinforce the exact opposite point,” he argued. “With more tunnels and a better chance of survivability, they may think they don’t need as many warheads to strike back.”

Reaction from others has been more moderate.

“Their research has value, but it also shows the danger of the Internet,” said Hans M. Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists. Kristensen faulted some of the students’ interpretation of the satellite images.

“One thing his report accomplishes, I think, is it highlights the uncertainty about what China has,” said Mark Stokes, executive director of the Project 2049 Institute, a think tank. “There’s no question China’s been investing in tunnels, and to look at those efforts and pose this question is worthwhile.”

Click here for more on China’s Underground Great Wall


  • Thunder350

    “3,000 miles worth of tunnels may be hiding up to 3,000 nuclear warheads in China. ”

    So China needs a mile of land to hide and protect a bomb?

    Oh well, its coming from the experts in the field that do this for a living, it must be… oh wait.. “a team of Georgetown University undergrads”

    Nevermind… alls ok!

    • blight

      Imagine five miles of tunnels to protect a MIRV’ed missile with 5 MIRVs.


      Deploying your nukes in hardened silos is something the Soviets and the Americans did because our launch infrastructure grew out of old liquid-fuelling setups that were very difficult to keep mobile. And once we went solid fuel we simply adapted them for the launch-from-holes-in-the-ground mentality. That said, it’s also easier to maintain a force of buried nukes, and they’re also easier to protect from nuke theft/Spetsnatz attack. You can also keep bigger and bigger missiles in silos than you can keep on a mobile Topol launcher. It’s also easier to set up redundant communications equipment if it’s static and can be buried in the ground, versus something mobile that trundles along on wheels or tracks.

      China’s approach seems entirely different, and perhaps they are using a mile of land to hide and protect a missile. Sometimes being sneaky, or protective of your equipment sounds ridiculously far-fetched, but if it gets the job done, it gets the job done.

      • Jeff Ferguson

        Without bias or rancor, may I suggest the Chinese have a long, successful history of guile.

        What I wonder is…. miles of tunnels, by themselves, may hide missiles or troops or whatever. But when you need to LAUNCH that missile — how do you do it? The study hasn’t been formally released and I myself have not read it therefore. My question is…. do these tunnels (based on satellite imagery or other intelligence) have ports or openings or some way to shuttle them to a spoke where they can launch them? Tunnels to hide.. without a way to move a missile or weapon to its launch pad… seems very odd. I would also be interested in knowing the geometry of the tunnels. If they stretch throughout the countrysides in some interminable fashion, that would be bizaarre. Alternatively, it they were arrayed as miles of spokes of a central terminus…. that might make sense., The dispersion would hide and protect the missiles from pre-emtpive attack, but they could be moved to selected spoke ends for launch with unpredictability.

        Final question…. how do those mysterious grid structures scattered in the Chinese countrysides fit into all of this?

        • blight

          What’s scary is that they are proposing the PRC has a system that hte United States ditched for cost reasons in the ’80s. Isn’t the whole underground tunnel system what was proposed for Peacekeeper and ditched for costs?

        • blight

          If you have a bunch of highway systems you can drive your Topols on them, then park-and-fire either through an exposed area just off the highway or perhaps special cut-outs for such a thing.

          If you crack open a google map of the Los Angeles region there’s plenty of fire roads and open pad spaces that used to hold Nike batteries or radio towers or cell phone towers (or are just cleared for mysterious reasons). Perfect places to quickly scoot an ICBM launcher to if the PRC has something similar going on.

          That said, the other problem with a highly mobile launch system is its vulnerability in transit to attack or theft.

    • Jeffrey Ferguson

      Well consider this. The Georgetown students may not be “experts,” but they also as a group have no inbred bias or motive to fabricate. Many “China experts” in the government are or were businessmen who gained tremendous access to China but did so via lucrative business arrangements that profited them personally or their corporations. These experts have strong motives to turn a blind eye and deaf ear to China’s aggressive global interests at the expense of global security. Also, folks like the Union of Concerned Scientsts seek to prevent nuclear proliferation — but they cannot affect totalitarian countries. They cannot stop China, Iran or North Korea from developing and fielding lots of nuclear weapons. Their fear then is, if the reports of Chinese wepaons deveopment are true… horrors… the US might start making more nukes to counteract it. So they discard the idea of foreign nuclear development to in turn discourage American advances. To all our peril. None of these other countries are parties to ANY nuclear reduciton treaty. Russia has become irrelevant to this equation. When China, India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea, and soon Iran are major unfettered players in this game….stand by to stand by,.

      • blight

        Also, people with connections in China can be led down a path chosen by the government and be suckered in reporting false information back to Washington. You can even selectively feed different people different things so that their data synthesizes into a picture you desire.

      • itfunk

        Yea no bias except for the anti-Chinese phobia that is all pervasive in America now.

        • Jeff Ferguson

          Phobia or legitimate concern? Even paranoid people can have enemies. .

      • bobbymike

        You are exactly right. The arms control zealots would rather prevent US weapon and warhead advances and promote US disarmament rather than protest in Tehran or Beijing.

    • mike

      no surprise there china has far more missiles than there saying

  • Having used open source intelligence to research certain topics, I learned that you can find out an awful lot you shouldn’t be able to. To dismiss it as not trusting the internet is just short sighted and a very old way of looking at it. From the sounds of their research they used the internet to find satellite pictures, chinese news articles, read the Chinese versions of Defense Tech, official statements, gaffes from Chinese leaders that revealed quite a bit, etc. This isn’t a one night research wikipedia session we’re talking about here.

    I would guess that their estimate for the number of nukes is far more accurate than the official count, just because of the variety and amount of material that they covered to write the paper. People with access to classified information tend to discount anything not classified. If you know what and how to look, a person can get a better feel for a situation than the information coming from the classified sources, key word being feel which can help someone know what questions to ask and what data to look for in the classified materials.

    The Arab Spring is a good example of a situation where if you were following local news, and reading response from locals it was pretty easy to predict which dominoes would fall after the first in Tunisia. Whereas I can’t really think of anything classified that would have been able to predict that event that wasn’t already in the public sphere.

    • SJE

      And “official” sources of intelligence can be captured by group think, or political ends that cloud their judgment

    • PMI

      “People with access to classified information tend to discount anything not classified.”

      —Not at all accurate. Agencies have long used open source information as important data. And no you are not getting more accurate intel by relying on open sources.

  • DougieR

    Experts as always should decide if the open source intelligence is credible but the question should still be asked. If you were China and had that much land, air, and sea to cover would you be comfortable with a max (published) of 400 warheads? I think the answer in a lot of people’s minds would be no….

  • Uncle Bill

    Interesting that the UCS and FAS both denigrate the study as it infringes on their turf, their area of expertise.

    Just because the internet is full of BS doesn’t mean that the truth isn’t out there also. These undergrads have demonstrated what a good effort of looking for it can do. This is an eye-opener and should point the way foreward for many.

    It also doesn’t mean though that the classified intelligence is lacking. It’s classified and may be both different and better quality.

  • Roy Smith

    Please,China is our friend. We NEED each other. They send us money,they send us checks. Where would Walmart be without toxic products from China to poison us to death. We need their faulty tires to explode on the roads & cause yet another traffic death. Look how much our defense needs their counterfeit circuits & chips. Where would we be without their toxic poisonous toothpaste,pet food,lead painted toys to kill our children & pets. This is just some silly attempt to start another cold war & have us buy more weapons form the dreaded “Military-industrial Complex.” C’mon man,can’t we all just all get along,sing kumbaya,& proclaim peace & safety on earth?

    • ABC

      You’re really clever, did you know that?

      • Dfens

        No, what’s really clever is sending all of our industrial might to Communist Red China. That’s friggen brilliant. After all, once we’ve built up our new enemy, then we can spend an even larger portion of our gross national product to defend against them. And by paying our multi-national corporate defense contractors more if they fail than we do if we succeed, we’ve found an even less efficient way to develop weapons than communisim, so get ready to pay through the ass for far less security than your dollar bought during the Cold War. You know, back when we actually believed in that capitalism BS!

        • blight

          We’ve sent industrial might that makes a great deal of plastic and sewn products. We still have chip foundries here (Intel and AMD), car manufacturing (at least here in the US and Mexico) and the aerospace industries.

          Just because Stanley makes screwdrivers and Black and Decker makes power tools in China doesn’t mean that the United States no longer has manufacturing capability. It means that it’s moved much of the light and medium industries to China.

          If we started losing Caterpillar factories to overseas I would begin to worry. Construction equipment companies are closer in degrees-of-separation to military equipment than whether or not Detroit’s factories stay open or closed.

          • Vok

            AMD is fabless now. They sold their Germany based fabs to UAE couple years ago.
            Intel is the only major American semiconductor company who still makes leading edge chips in the states, plus IBM’s experimental fab in upper state NY (not for volume production). Silicon Valley is a hollow shell by now. BTW, even Intel is in trouble too, ARM will kill x86 anyway, just a matter of time.
            US just can’t compete in electronics anymore. Asian OEMs are taking over the industry. Anything from chips to systems are dominated by Asian companies, with the exception of Apple. Even Apple buys the components from Asian vendors and assembled their products in Asia. Apple fights Samsung for tablets market, and yet still contracts out A5 processors to the same company, unbelievable! Who did Apple choose to replace Samsung eventually? TSMC yep another Asian vendor. Washington should stop talking about counterfeit electronic, what can you do a damn thing about. You don’t have a say over your supply chain because all your suppliers are foreigners!

          • Nmate

            I keep hearing how ARM chips are going to kill off x86. The problem is they never seem to mention the how or why. It’s one of the most unfounded over assumptions in IT.

          • Vok

            ARM core is power efficient, that’s THE major factor in mobile device design. You are talking about smart phones, tablets, GPS, and all those must have gadgets. I believe the volume of these products already passed PC and high end computing devices, and the gap is getting wider. Right now the line between tablets and laptop are becoming blurring and ARM is moving up in the food chain. Even Microsoft (the other half of Wintel duopoly, remember?) took notices and Windows 8 OS will support multiple platforms including ARM.
            Back in the 80’s Japs ruled the microelectronic business. Companies like NEC and Toshibas were untouchable. Intel was a niche player. When PC skyrocketed in the next decade, Intel took the ride and became the top dog. Now we see another fundamental shift, Intel has no answer to the new challenge. Their own mobile solution, Atom processor bombed big time. 10 years from now, Intel won’t be a major force. Samsung will dominate every field from chip to system.

          • Henry

            ” Even Apple buys the components from Asian vendors and assembled their products in Asia.” Irrelevant. When a company like IBM, Intel, Nvidia, Apple, or Texas Instruments (those last 3 are American companies who make ARM chips, by the way) outsources their physical production to Asia, it is no shift of power. The pertinent facet of the production process is the design. It’s the chip design itself that determines which company is dominant, not the manufacturing technique (generally speaking). This is because manufacturing techniques rapidly become industry standard. And if we’re going to talk manufacturing advances, credit where credit is due Intel is a real leader.

            Furthermore, Apple can contract to Samsung while still competing with them because Samsung benefits from the money. It would be a loss for them not to. And if they were to refuse, Apple could find someone else (back to my old point, Apple designed the A5 chip, and it is the utterly dominant ARM chip. Doesn’t matter who physically makes it, it’s the architecture). Hell, Apple could start it’s own hardware plant. Apple is the top earning company in the world.

          • Caterpillar has laid off 10 thousand people here and hiring 20 thousand people for their China Factory.
            You cannot sell in China in less you build there.
            And the carrot is to big for them to pass up.
            This is a bit of an angry rant, but it focuses on the story:

    • Twidget at large

      I could be wrong but do I detect a tiny hint of sarcasm there.

  • VC70

    I think you’ve got to hand it to the 2nd Artillery, that’s a lot of digging. Well done them.

  • SJE

    I would not dismiss this work as just internet rumors collected by undergraduates.
    1. The foreign policy people at G’town are among the best in the world: a lot of top military, intelligence and state dept people have been students there, or taught there.
    2/ A lot of secret information can be gleaned from non-secret sources, accidental releases, etc.
    3. “Official” intelligence can be disastrously wrong: e.g. the USSR is not going to collapse, Iraq is developing WMDs, Arab regimes are stable, the Japanese are not going to attack the USA…

    Given that, I’d say lets see what this project finds and look further. If the Chicoms have 3000 miles of tunnels, how can we verify their warheads. I always thought it was very odd that the USA and Russia had thousands of warheads, but the Chinese seemed happy with a few hundred.

    • Guest

      They’re Chinese. Do you really think that they will tell the world everything? One of their main strategic concepts is deception. Which by the way, has worked pretty well for thousands years, ever for relative newcomers like the US.

    • Commisar12

      I know, I guarantee the Chinese have more than the “official” tally of 300 or so. Probably double that.

      • Belesari

        Yes that should have been obvious to any but the eyes in the sky politicans and diplomats that make up state.

    • justsaying

      1. Possible.
      2. Nobody in the know actually believed that except for dupes. It was just a bit of deception to start a war for multinational corps to make some profit. Dead soldiers don’t matter to them. There’s plenty of conservative dupes who will buy into the WMD lie.
      3. Arab regimes are stable. The instabilities are ClA backed coups.
      4. It was well known the Japanese were going to attack Pearl Harbor. The president allowed it to happen. Can’t enter a war without a reason.

      You are a poor student of history.

      • blight

        The point still stands that regardless of the United States intentions about reacting early or not, that the Empire of Japan threw the first punch.

        And while we’re taking about what the United States let happen, there was Wake, Midway and the Philippines (though in the case of Midway, it was held against attack).

  • dddd

    Interesting research, and I would have to withhold full judgment until I have actually read the paper, but I, too, find the 3,000 number ridiculous. If you study the history and current practices of the CCP, which would certainly have to sanction this sort of thing, it is pretty hard to come to the conclusion that they would authorize such an expansion of their warheads. See Volume 35 of International Security. First, if some undergrads with open source research could discover this, then the PLA would most likely assume that US intelligence would find out, as well. Engaging in a renewed nuclear arms race with the U.S. does not serve any of China’s interests. They simply do not need 3,000 nuclear weapons, and if you read research on their military journals, their military seems to place far more emphasis on funding practical weapons systems that actually contribute to the nation’s defense. Nuclear retaliation for conventional strikes are simply not credible, particularly when the U.S. will always possess escalation dominance. Then again, the Chinese do like that thing called deception…

    • Jeff Ferguson

      3,000 is a bit excessive. But — whatever US Intelligenc knows, we have already found out the past four Presidential administrations have fielded “China Experts” who have deliberately buried valid intel about China’s military work in order to preserve our “relationship” with China. As I mentioned in another reply, many many of these experts were culled from the Corporate business community with strong economic ties for themselves personally and their corporations with China. Nothing wrong with that on its face… but they have a motive to preserve their personal interests at the very real expense of the United States and southeast Asian security interests. Yeah, they LIE about it. So the assumption that US Intelligence would have learned the truth– oh, and SHARED it with us, is a fallacy. Maybe they know the truth, and it was suppressed. ONly NOW are other voices about China’s aggressive military posture being listened to and acknowledged by the Pentagon publicly.

      • dddd

        I see your point. Cynical, but I don’t really know enough to offer counterevidence.

    • blight

      I’m sure the CIA was given a separate white paper a while ago.

      The big question is: How much fissile material they could have produced (remember, the Soviets did not supply the Chinese with anything nuke-related due to Sino-Soviet split). Then one has to calculate annual production and try to simulate if the PRC would produce nuclear weapons with the materials of the day, or to stockpile for another generation of nuke tech which would produce more bang for the same amount of fissile material. That gives you an upper limit to nukes.

      However, China can still produce as many missiles as they wish and hide them. There’s no reason they can’t produce BM’s and fit them with conventional warheads to make their strategic missile forces look much larger. It also means that as warhead production increases, that they can take down conventional missiles and replace them with nukes. It also means that if they are uncovered they can declare that many of the missiles are conventional and defensive in nature. It also confuses people about the nature of the missile programs if you have conventional programs as well, and makes it easier to hide nukes in plain sight, especially if your missiles /are/ hidden in plain sight.

      For example, what if they go double blind and have missile warheads that are identical between conventional and nuclear, and the missile techs don’t know which warheads are loaded onto which missiles? Then when the launch order comes, a “mixed unit” would fire a barrage on target, some of which would make the mushroom cloud, others would not. Not even the generals would know which one is a nuke, making it difficult to decipher such information by foreign intelligence agencies.

      I don’t know if such an idea is feasible or downright crazy, but this /is/ the PRC we’re talking about. There’s no commandment in stone that they should emulate our strategic missile forces command structure.

      • SJE

        The CIA may have been given a white paper, but it gets lost in the bureaucracy. Having someone outside the official intelligence community give a different story can get be a necessary corrective.

  • mhmm…

    How exactly would no one notice the construction. I would assume 3000 miles of tunnels would create an awfully large amount of dirt and other debris

    • CountDeMonet

      They did finish building a big dam (Three Gorges)……maybe that is where they put it or just a coincidence.

    • Paralus

      Let’s assume that China started these tunnels in the late 50’s with their nascent nuke program. That would give them fifty plus years to gradually dig out 3000 miles of tunnels. And who the hell would be checking for dirt and debris over 50 years?

      • blight

        You can use it for road construction and terracing too, I guess.

  • Damm Their WMD’s probably suck anyway’s oh wait does ours Also say “MADE IN CHINA”…

  • Jacob

    I would think that whatever data these students used would also be available to the CIA. And since assembling a picture from lots of little pieces is what the CIA does best, I’d think that they would have a good handle on how many nuclear weapons China really has.

  • chuck

    First of all neither UCS and FAS is reliable in there studies both use source material from newspapers rather than official documents on Russian and Chinese nuclear weapons. Anyone with a clue on research know that is lazy and incorrect way of doing busines but they have been dong that for years. Never could understand how anyone could realy accept these info. College studies unlike payed professional amatures can something make good studies the other not so much. Don’t always believe what so call experts know ?

  • Love to see CG 3D models, maps, documents, accounting data IE X00 warheads, X00 missiles, X00 mines etc.
    How Chinese army organized
    Map of complex from Beijing, Shanghai
    Years to build & hide from overhead satellites.
    Tunnel exits, acess points.
    Be awesome Major Find for US Defense.

    • Twidget at large

      Regardless of the nuke threat, I’d like to see those tunnels just to look at the engineering, because I’m wondering if these tunnels of theirs are up there with building the Boulder Dam.

  • Kski

    Regardless, fear the RED MENACE.

  • 3000 miles of underground tunnels? This from a country that supposedly only spends a percentage of what we do on defense?

    Just a small data point to put out there when libs actually believe and state Chinese defense industry budget numbers are in anyway accurate.

    • joe

      3000 kilometres of tunnels?
      Well, Erlang Road Tunnel cost 56.5 million USD in 1999.
      That’s an 8.5 km civil road tunnel but you’d also get massive economies of scale, so we’ll use the same rate for a cost estimate.

      That means your 3,000 km costs you about 20 billion USD.
      Sound reasonable for a strategic weapons project? Certainly over a few decades…

      • Chimp

        There’s no way they have spent $US20 billion on this. Labour costs are lower, as are most other costs.

        The key issue is *where* the tunnels are. The coast off Taiwan has some major emplacements with lots of WW2 style defences. Bet a fair chunk of it is there. Most major cities have large scale bomb shelters, too.

        China’s most likely war is with North Korea, who are nuclear armed and mad enough to use them. Plus, there would be some serious objections to letting off retaliatory nukes in close proximity to US forces in South Korea.

        • joe

          Erlang was built by the PRC government with local labour – so any savings in labour costs, etc, should have been reflected in that price, too.

          I suspect there would be ‘serious objections’ to letting off nuclear weapons anywhere, against anyone…but note that these are supposed to be 2nd artillery facilities – i.e. all specifically strategic installations, not civilian shelters.

  • James Purdy

    Who to trust:

    A. American politicians that can only unanimously decide that a pay increase is needed for themselves, who probably can’t tell you every capital in the union, and can’t figure out a way to not spend ourselves to death.
    B. The Chinese government that has figured out it’s smarter to spend $10k in espionage rather then spend $10 million in research, who lie to their own people(refer back to option A), and just keep cutting those loans to us.
    C. Some college kids trying to get an A, a passing grade for some, or impress some chick.

    • Mastro

      I don’t care if pols know the capital to South Dakota- just balance a damn budget.

    • SJE

      There is a risk that professors would try to reach controversial results to get attention but, then again, these are professionals whose career depends on being reliable sources of information to the intelligence and foreign policy community. I have known a number of G’town foreign policy grads, and they are a different breed from most college students.

  • itfunk

    The Chinese are going to be the worlds most powerful superpower, even the US admits that quietly. It stands to reason that they are going to have all the institutions and capabilities we have but just bigger and better. The only people expressing surprise at these things are living in denial.

  • Dean Ob

    Hm. Interesting. Haven’t seen the paper but read the WaPo article.
    But this isn’t really new is it? China has always been building tunnels. Who taught Ho Chi Minh to build underground bases under Vietman? Didn’t China split and disperse its industry and arsenal at one point to counter the larger American numbers of warheads? That they built tunnels for their missles has been around for awhile I think. Doesn’t strike me as any surprise. I’m sure our own classified intelligence is better than open source and our guys know far more about it. Maybe that is why folks like FSA dismiss it. As if to say, “Uh, nothing to see here, move along please…”

  • Dean Ob

    From China’s point of view they have to counter our stealth and precision, our deep penetrating weapons. If you think about it, even if they had only one weapon per ten miles, that makes it all the harder for us to find them and target them. If each missle has ten portals it can launch from, we have to hit ten precision hard targets to prevent that one missle from getting out. They don’t even need 3000 weapons, they just need 3000 targets. Guarenteed we can’t hit them all, a guarenteed retaliation.
    Also, the bad guys are always in those damn tunnels, aren’t they? Gotta smoke ’em out!

  • 3000 warheads is notably larger than the number of operational warheads held by either Russia or the US (I would doubt that the Chinese figure would include a stockpiled reserve to the proportions of Russia or USA as there isn’t the same cold war legacy in China). And 3000 dwarfs the Indian arsenal.

    It seems far too high an estimate, but I wonder whether this number is simply the report’s high end bracket that has been picked up media to make a headline. Without having read the report, I’d suspect that they might have a lower and more likely estimate of Chinese weapons.

    • PMI

      In 2010 the DOD publicly released that the US still had 5,113 active & inactive warheads & another 3,500 that were waiting to be dismantled. Russia has slightly more.

      • NTI put the 2011 figures for non-deployed warheads (which includes reserves and stockpiles awaiting disposal) for the USA and Russia at 6350 and 4600-6300 respectively. With totals for all warheads at ~8500 for the US and ~11000 for Russia.

  • Lance

    And its sad we are giving our Nukes up while Russia lies and keeps its Nukes. Nukes are like guns once you ban them only the bad guys will have them. By the way we still have enough Nukes to deter China. Hopefully Obama wont get ride of them

    • Nmate

      Oh yes, because the arms reduction treaties are completely unverified. Give me a break. Your stating that the Soviets never had 3,000 warheads in their heyday just underlines you’re obvious lack of knowledge.

      Also, it’s Soviet UNION. Singular.

      • Lance


        I know you love to say the sky is falling with the Chi Com but you lack knowledge that there missile and bomber technology is far inferior to the US or Russia there ICBMs can reach the US west coast but not make it past the Rockies Mountains Its also OK to say the Soviets when referring to the Nation nod addressing the full name pal.

  • Lance

    I doubt the estimates anyway the Chines have atomic weapons but I doubt 3000. The Soviet Unions in its heyday didn’t have that many.

    • PMI

      The Soviets had more than 40,000 warheads by the mid 80’s.

  • Is there a link to this report? I looked on the 2049 site but it didn’t spring out at me and I ain’t reading through them all to find some reference.

  • jamFRIDGE

    Sun-Tzy himself said ALL warfare is based on deception. Make the whole world think you have 400 nukes, then when you get invaded you reveal you actually had double, triple, or even quadruple (I could go on up to seven times) that amount…

    • jamFRIDGE


      • joe

        Except the principle value (unless you’re a nutter who wishes to end human civilization*) of nuclear weapons is deterrance. Hence if anything the goal is to play up the quality and quantity of your strategic armament, rather than the reverse.

        * Unlike North Korea, the PRC is merely a rival nation, they are not pants-on-head crazies likely to immolate asia in nuclear fire just on a whim.

        • blight

          Like Saddam, who had Americans thumping down his door yet never was able to deploy any of the WMD we swore he had? Saddam played the world for ten years, and did it well because we knew he had a program (that we funded) in the first place, and thus the capability did exist all along.

  • Rabbit

    It’s articles like these that make me giggle every time someone talks about China’s “peaceful rise”.

    I wouldn’t be too quick to dismiss the value of open-source intel either. Some useful information can be gleaned from high resolution satellite photos – consider the proliferation of stealth shaping principles used in the F-22.

  • Cato

    Derisive statements by establishment organizations are vaguely reminiscent of the MSM sniffing at ‘PJ journalists’ exposing Dan Rather as a fake and a fraud. My guess is the Chinese have no intention of playing by the rules, if there were any. It’s still a very dangerous world and it rankles me that left-leaning collections of scientists take that ‘nothing to see here’ attitude. There’s plenty to see and my guess is, it’s not that hard to find. It doesn’t take a genius to out-maneuver ‘experts’, just some hard work.

  • robertro2


  • It’s just a thought, but if the sinister Chinese plot is a first strike against the USA, then that 3000 kilometers of tunnel could be heading East!

    They could be nearly a third of the way there!!

    Give it a few more years and you’ll have a million armed Chicoms popping up on the West coast.

  • Tad

    Of course China has more nukes than they will admit too – the Chinese government lies about everything and does not honor any agreements.

  • Jason

    Meh whatever, Iran hints that it is trying for one nuke and the world freaks out, Nukes are a political weapon. A nuclear war would actually be just committing mass suicide.

  • Tom

    i dont see what does it matter if china has 3000 missiles or 300??? wouldn’t it be enough to fire 300 NUKES
    who care if its actually 3000 ???

    • SJE

      China consistly postures itself as the weaker party, more interested in self defense. We know that isnt true, but it becomes even more laughable if they have been amassing huge nuke stockpiles. The rest of Asia will care a great deal.

  • steveham

    Tracking weapons underground for 3000 miles shouldn’t be too difficult for the technology of today. I think I saw it in a movie – they did it fine! “We have the technology!”

  • howard


    as long as we keep them in the tunnels…we’re OK-DOKY.

  • Box211

    Possibly, the only thing keeping them from using this on D.C. is that the Americans are too good a customer to lose for marketing their products. Once the US economy becomes too diminished to produce profit, they may use the US population for their own purpose-to continue to generate income.