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China has far greater nuclear capacity than thought only 1 week ago – STRATCOM Chief

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Washington: The United States has only learned in the past week that China has developed a fast breeder capacity allowing it to make far more plutonium nuclear warheads than US assessments had previously thought possible, Strategic Command (STRATCOM) chief Admiral Charles Richard said on Tuesday.

“It is only in the past week that we became aware that this limitation [on production of nuclear warheads] has changed in an upward direction,” Richard told a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC).

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Beijing’s development and successful activation of a fast breeder reactor had greatly increased its capability and its nuclear stockpile was undergoing an “unprecedented expansion,” Richard said, adding that at the current pace, China is “well ahead of the pace necessary to double their nuclear stockpile by the end of the decade.”

China was also on track to achieve its goal of establishing a nuclear triad with separate ground, air and sea-launched nuclear weapons by the middle of the current decade, Richard told Senators.

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