Don’t Forget China

The United States and Russia will still possess 90 percent to 95 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons even after the two nations implement the reductions mandated under the New START accord, James Miller, the Defense Department’s principal deputy undersecretary for policy, told Senate lawmakers last week. Nonetheless, the Obama Administration will factor China in future decisions on additional US nuclear cuts, especially if the Chinese remain so secretive about their nuclear intentions, he said. “Our ability to go forward, certainly, beyond any next round [of nuclear reductions with Russia] will depend, in significant measure, on what China does,” said Miller in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee’s panel on strategic forces May 4. The Chinese are thought to have roughly 400 nuclear warheads, according to unclassified estimates. Miller said the United States has no indication that the Chinese seek nuclear parity. Rather, it appears they appear to be acting consistent with their stated doctrine of “wanting to have the ability to deliver in a second strike a relatively limited number of nuclear weapons.” Still, “we would like to understand more about their doctrine” since the “uncertainty grows” with them, he said. (Miller written statement)