OPINION / VIEWPOINT
US Strategic Command general aspires to muddy the water of nuclear arsenals
Published: Aug 29, 2021 12:32 PM
A formation of JL-2 missiles takes part in a grand military parade celebrating the 70th founding anniversary of the People's Republic of China in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 1, 2019. (Xinhua/Gao Jie)

A formation of JL-2 missiles takes part in a grand military parade celebrating the 70th founding anniversary of the People's Republic of China in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 1, 2019. (Xinhua/Gao Jie)

US Air Force Lieutenant General Thomas Bussiere, who is deputy commander of the US Strategic Command which oversees the nuclear arsenal, said on Friday that China will soon surpass Russia as the top nuclear threat of the US, a Reuter report said.

Bussiere claimed China is in the midst of a rapid nuclear weapons build-up that "can no longer be aligned" with the country's public clarification that China wants to maintain a minimum nuclear level of deterrence. 

"There's going to be a point, a crossover point, where the number of threats presented by China will exceed the number of threats that currently Russia presents," Bussiere told an online forum.

He said the judgment would not be based solely on the number of China's stockpiled nuclear warheads, but also on how they are "operationally fielded." He believed the cross-over point will appear in the next few years. 

Bussiere emphasized that, unlike with Russia, the US does not have any treaties or dialogue mechanisms with China on the issue to "alleviate any misperceptions or confusion."

I think Bussiere's remarks had two malicious goals. First, he wants to sow discord between Russia and China, instigating a sense of crisis in Russia that China's nuclear capabilities are to surpass Russia.  

His reasoning is problematic. The number of nuclear warheads in China and Russia is not in the same order of magnitude. It is known that Russia owns more nuclear warheads than the US. It's incredible that China's nuclear capability could surpass that of Russia in the foreseeable future. 

Bussiere said his judgment is not based solely on the number of China's stockpiled nuclear warheads, but he didn't give any other parameters. Instead, he just vaguely said that it also depends on how they are "operationally fielded." What he wants to achieve is to confuse and mislead the public. 

It's well-known that China is the sole nuclear power that has declared a policy of "no-first-use" of nuclear weapons at any time, and, under any circumstances. China has far fewer nuclear warheads than Russia or the US, and has made the aforementioned self-restrained commitment. How can China's nuclear deterrent surpass that of Russia? 

Bussiere's second purpose is sinister, too. 

He said the US did not have any treaties or dialogue mechanisms with China on the issue to "alleviate any misperceptions or confusion." By saying so, he aspires to draw China into the mechanisms that would restrain China's nuclear arsenal development. 

He wanted to prevent China from increasing nuclear deterrent, and, to sustain the huge disparity of nuclear weapons between China and the US. Washington has been trying to play up so-called public-opinion pressure on China's nuclear arsenal build-up. Bussiere's remark is the latest US effort.  

China must have a firm attitude when it comes to nuclear arsenal development, because it is closely tied to China's core national security. We should not be dissuaded and impacted by the tricks played by US officials and generals.

The author is editor-in-chief of the Global Times. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn 


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