China accuses US of ‘Cold War mentality’

Beijing opposes Washington's new nuclear weapons policy


China yesterday said it is "firmly opposed" to the new US nuclear weapons policy statement, describing its speculation about Chinese intentions as "wild guesses".

The US Defence Department's Nuclear Posture Review released on Friday outlines the Pentagon's nuclear ambitions under President Donald Trump, while spelling out how it foresees nuclear threats in the coming decades.

Although the review focuses on Russia, sections are dedicated to the lack of transparency in China's nuclear build-up.

The report says China has added new types of nuclear capabilities - from a mobile intercontinental ballistic missile to a new ballistic missile submarine - "with little to no transparency into its intentions".

The report makes "wild guesses" about Beijing's intentions and exaggerates the threat of its nuclear force, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said in a statement.

China is "firmly opposed to this", he said.

China "has always kept its own nuclear forces at the minimum level required by national security", Mr Ren said, pointing out that the US has the world's largest nuclear arsenal.

"We hope the US will abandon its Cold War mentality."

Since taking office in 2012, Chinese President Xi Jinping has pushed for a muscular China, including calls last October to develop a "world-class" military by 2050.

China's neighbours have watched warily as the People's Liberation Army has upgraded its arsenal with increasingly sophisticated weaponry and sought to create a more effective fighting force.

Upgrades to its nuclear arsenal have received less attention, partly due to its small size, estimated by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute at just 270 warheads compared with 6,800 for the US.

China has also long maintained it will never allow first use of its atomic weapons.

It "always abides by the principle of no first use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances", Mr Ren said, and will "not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states".

The US military wants to revamp its nuclear arsenal and develop new low-yield atomic weapons, largely in response to Russian actions in recent years, the Pentagon said.

Moscow on Saturday denounced the "bellicose" and "anti-Russian" nature of the new US nuclear policy, warning it would take necessary measures to ensure its own security.

Iran too reacted with some terse comments.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Saturday said the new nuclear policy of the US brings humanity "closer to annihilation".

He said it was "in violation" of the international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. - AFP