During the Cold War, the United States and Russia strove for the largest nuclear arsenals. Now that relations between the two world powers seem to be deteriorating, the arms race seems to have resumed. Although a third player must now be taken into account: China. Tom Sauer, professor of political science at the University of Antwerp, explains.
Listen to the full interview with Tom Sawyer, Professor of Political Science at the University of Antwerp, here.
In the message: China turns to Russia for nuclear fuel.
- “China has imported about 6,500 kg of uranium from Russia for fast reactors. Plutonium can be extracted from that reactor relatively easily. “It can be used for civilian purposes to refuel that fast breeder reactor, or, this is where the shoe pinches, for military purposes, to produce nuclear weapons,” Sauer says.
- “Especially the latter worries the West. China’s nuclear arsenal has so far been very limited. “It is true that China has had nuclear weapons since the 1960s, but unlike the other two superpowers (the US and Russia, ed.), who have thousands of nuclear weapons, a limited number Always follows the principle of holding. created,” says Prof.
- “China has about 300 nuclear weapons so far and it was obviously happy. But under President Xi Jinping, there appears to be a shift in policy. He wants to build 1,000 nuclear weapons by 2030 and 1,500 by 2035, at least according to the CIA. And if all of these are nuclear weapons, that will match the numbers of Russia and the United States,” says Sauer. “In this way, China will actually be on par with the other two, and it will lead to a new arms race because the United States can also start to rebuild.”
Basic: Will there be a new arms race?
- “Until now, the U.S. has really been looking at Russia as a major in terms of nuclear weapons, and China is trying to keep pace because it doesn’t have a lot of nuclear weapons,” Sauer says. “But if China builds nuclear weapons like Russia does, there are voices in the United States to put the two together. If so, the United States must double its arsenal.
- “The problem is that until now the number of nuclear weapons in the world has been gradually decreasing, although recently it has been at a level since the mid-1980s. But the problem is that from this year the number may start to rise again,” explains the professor.
- “Despite the demand and legal requirement that the Non-Proliferation Treaty achieve zero, we are moving in the wrong direction. Globally, we are still left with 12,000 nuclear weapons, and the world is unhappy that it is not moving faster on nuclear disarmament.
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