China

China is a nuclear-armed state, estimated by the SIPRI Yearbook 2013 to possess around 250 nuclear weapons of various designs and ranges. An estimated 175 are estimated to be ‘active’, i.e. operationally available though not necessarily deployed.  China began developing nuclear weapons in the late 1950s and conducted its first nuclear test explosion on 16 October 1964.  It launched its first nuclear missile on 25 October 1966 and detonated its first hydrogen bomb on 14 June 1967.  China conducted 45 nuclear tests at its Lop Nor test site in Xinjiang before stopping in 1996....

China is a nuclear-armed state, estimated by the SIPRI Yearbook 2013 to possess around 250 nuclear weapons of various designs and ranges. An estimated 175 are estimated to be ‘active’, i.e. operationally available though not necessarily deployed.  China began developing nuclear weapons in the late 1950s and conducted its first nuclear test explosion on 16 October 1964.  It launched its first nuclear missile on 25 October 1966 and detonated its first hydrogen bomb on 14 June 1967.  China conducted 45 nuclear tests at its Lop Nor test site in Xinjiang before stopping in 1996.

China acceded to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1992, and became a Nuclear Weapon State (NWS) Party, as it met the definition of a NWS in the treaty text.  China has signed but not ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).  It is one of 8 of the 44 "Annex 2" states that must sign and ratify before the CTBT can formally enter into force.  China is a state party to both the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).  As at January 2012, China had not signed the Mine Ban Treaty or the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM).  It is a member of the 65 nation Conference on Disarmament (CD).  It has been a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) only since 2004.

Of the P-5 NWS, China is the only one still to be increasing the size and range of its nuclear forces, taking it higher than the UK but still with fewer than France and the others.  Most of China’s nuclear forces are landbased, both mobile and in silos, although it has some nuclear-capable bombers and air-dropped weapons.  Though China has one out-dated Xia-class nuclear-powered, nuclear-weapon capable submarine (SSBN) and is believed to be developing three Jin-class SSBNs, these are not currently regarded as operationally deployed.

When China first tested nuclear weapons in 1964, it publicised three basic tenets of its nuclear policy which have continued to be reiterated:  the commitment that it will not use nuclear weapons first (no first use); that it will not use nuclear weapons against a country without nuclear weapons (unconditional negative security assurance); statement of commitment to the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons; and support for an international conference on total and complete disarmament.   At the UN Security Council Summit on 24 September 2009, President Hu Jintao argued that all the nuclear-armed countries should engage in a multilateral nuclear disarmament process “when conditions are ripe”, noting that: “in order to bring about complete and thorough nuclear disarmament the international community should, at a suitable point in time, formulate a feasible long-term plan with separate stages, including the establishment of a Treaty on the Complete Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons”.  This suggests that though Beijing has long taken a rhetorical position akin to US President Obama’s call for a world free of nuclear weapons, its fundamental policy will remain cautious: it will vote in favour of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) resolutions on a nuclear weapons convention, but will not take any kind of leading role or set itself apart from the other NWS. 

Since 1999, China has expressed concern about US plans for ballistic missile defences (BMD) and the dangers of using space as a base for weapons strikes.  In 2002, China joined with Russia to table a draft “Treaty on the Prevention of the Deployment of Weapons in Outer Space, [and of] the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects" (PPWT) in the Conference on Disarmament (CD). US opposition and CD deadlock have prevented any movement towards negotiations, though the draft has been revised and tabled again with more co-sponsors, most recently on 12 February 2008.  In 2006 China conducted an ASAT (anti-satellite) test in which it fired a long range ballistic missile at one of its own (reportedly defunct) satellites. The destruction of this satellite into thousands of fragments that have added to the space debris problem in orbit around the Earth caused worldwide condemnation.  While continuing to sponsor the PPWT, China is responding to US BMD programmes and military developments in space by investing in and accelerating its own military space capabilities.  While supplying Pakistan’s nuclear programme, China has continued to raise concerns about nuclear-armed India on its borders and was opposed to the US-India deal for a nuclear exemption from the NSG.

20 March 2015

"We simply cannot allow the 21st century to be darkened by the worst weapons of the 20th century."

– President Barack Obama

Nonproliferation

Since its entry into force in 1970, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) has served as the...

12 March 2015

Major world powers have quietly begun talks on a UN Security Council resolution to lift UN sanctions on Iran if a nuclear agreement is struck, a step that could make it harder for the US Congress to undo a deal, officials said.

The talks between Britain, China, France, Russia and the...

7 March 2015

WITHIN the next few weeks, after years of stalling and evasion, Iran may at last agree to curb its nuclear programme. In exchange for relief from sanctions it will accept, in principle, that it should allow intrusive inspections and limit how much uranium will cascade through its centrifuges....

Dr Rebecca Johnson
24 May 2010

Oh dear oh dear oh dear! Today in Main Committee I we were treated to what looked like a semi-coordinated Push Back by the P-5 Nuclear Weapons Addicts.  One by one they took the floor to complain about a number of places where the nuclear weapons possessors were, to quote Russia, being “put...

Dr Rebecca Johnson
5 May 2010

There continued to be a long day of national statements to the Review Conference, some good, some pedestrian.  Wanting to pay attention to these, but stretched between various NGO and sidebar events, it is difficult to distinguish between positions that sound increasingly similar, as almost...

Dr Rebecca Johnson
17 December 2014

Driven by “the imperative of human security for all", Austria pledged at the...

Dr Rebecca Johnson
13 May 2014

On Friday, the UN-hosted meeting of around 140 of the 190 states that are party to the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons  (NPT) ended with...

Dr Rebecca Johnson
19 February 2014

“Nayarit is a point of no return” declared Juan Manuel Gómez Robledo, Mexico’s Vice Minister for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights, delivering the Chair’s Summary as he closed the...

9 March 2015

 

The UK parliamentary debate on the NPT on 9 March was opened by former Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, but sparsely attended by members of the House of Commons. While some MPs evoked Britain's role in the NPT and P5 as justification for retaining nuclear weapons and...

3 March 2015

Mr John Howell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of progress in the nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries.

Mr Philip Hammond: We have made some progress in recent...

23 February 2015

Lord Judd: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, following the February 2015 meeting of the "P5 Process", what proposals they will be making in preparation for the April 2015 Non-proliferation Treaty Review Conference on (1) a weapons of mass destruction-free zone in...

Author(s): Negotiators for P5+1 & Iran
24 November 2013

Preamble

The goal for these negotiations is to reach a mutually-agreed long-term comprehensive solution that
would ensure Iran's nuclear programme will be exclusively peaceful. Iran reaffirms that under no
circumstances will Iran ever seek or develop any...

Author(s): P5 states (China, France, Russia, UK, USA)
19 April 2013

The five Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) nuclear-weapon states, or "P5," met in Geneva on April 18-19, 2013 under the chairmanship of the Russian Federation to build on the 2009 London, 2011 Paris, and 2012 Washington P5 conferences. The P5 reviewed progress towards fulfilling...

Author(s): G8 Foreign Ministers
11 April 2013

The G8 Foreign Ministers have issued a joint statement following their meeting on 10 and 11 April 2013 in London.

Introduction
G8 Foreign Ministers met in London on 10-11 April. The G8 represents a group of nations with a broad range of global interests and with...

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