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Warhead stockpile 'defensive'

By ZHOU WA  (China Daily)

08:24, June 04, 2013

Beijing hopes the outside world will not make wild guesses about China's limited nuclear capacity, and believes that countries with the largest nuclear arsenals should bear the primary responsibility for nuclear disarmament, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters at a daily news briefing on Monday.

He was speaking in response to a newly released report from a Sweden-based think tank, which stated that China has added 10 nuclear warheads to its stockpile, bringing its total to 250.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute released the report on Monday, saying China, India and Pakistan had increased their nuclear arsenals over the past year.

Pakistan has added about 10 warheads for a total of between 100 and 120, and India has increased its supply by about 10 for a total of 90 to 110, the institute said.

Observers said the report only demonstrates academic research and cannot be seen as an authorized source for judging a country's nuclear capability.

Hong said China's nuclear weapons are firmly committed to self-defense, and China has never used such weapons to threaten other countries.

"China has never deployed nuclear weapons in other countries, and China does not participate in any form of the nuclear arms race and has always kept its nuclear capabilities at the minimum level required for national security."

China's nuclear policy is one of the most transparent of all the nuclear powers, and the country has continuously supported and advocated the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons, he added.

China consistently upholds that it will never be the first to use nuclear weapons under any circumstances, and unconditionally promises not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones, he said.

According to the SIPRI report, only Russia and the United States have reduced their warheads. Russia cut its number from 10,000 to 8,500, and the number of nuclear warheads from the United States decreased from 8,000 to 7,700.

The number of warheads in France, the United Kingdom and Israel remained at the same level as the previous year, with 300 in France, 225 in the UK and 80 in Israel.

The institute acknowledged that the figures were to a large extent estimates due to different levels of transparency by the nuclear powers.

The figures in SIPRI's report cannot reflect the level of nuclear power of a country, because the sources for the study lack authority, said Li Qinggong, deputy secretary-general of the China Council for National Security Policy Studies.

He said just having a large number of nuclear warheads does not mean a high level of nuclear power, as it also depends on how modern the country's nuclear-related technologies are.

The report can be a reference for researchers, but the figures cannot be confirmed by the governments involved, said Zhai Dequan, deputy secretary-general of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association.

Although the report showed that the global total of warheads was down, it did not mean a significantly diminished nuclear threat, Shannon Kile, SIPRI Senior Researcher, told AFP.

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