05 September 2010

China and Nuclear Weapons

It appears there is some misconception on the status on nuclear weapons in China. Id thought I should clean things up.

China’s nuclear weapons program began shortly after the PRC’s founding. Mao Zedong believed China would never be taken seriously without nuclear warheads, and that they would be under constant “nuclear blackmail” from the US. With the help of the Soviet Union, China built its first nuclear reactors. They also relied on the Soviets for nuclear materials such as yellowcake. After the Sino-Soviet split in the early 1960’s, China had lost its assistance from the USSR, but was determined to “break the west’s monopoly on nuclear weapons”. On October 16, 1964 China detonated its first atomic bomb, code named ‘596’, in Lop Nur. Within a few years, they tested their first hydrogen bomb and created warheads for ICBM’s.

Today, China is one of the five recognized nuclear powers. Its current stockpile is believed to be about 250 warheads. For comparison, the UK has just over 200, France about 350, the US has over 10,000 and Russia has almost 12,000 (enough to destroy the earth ten times over).

China has signed and ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. China is also the only nuclear state with a ‘no first use’ policy, meaning they promise not to use nuclear weapons against any country unless nuclear weapons are used on China first. As seen in my very first post, China has ICBM’s that can carry warheads anywhere in the world except South America.

The ROC/Taiwan currently does not possess nuclear weapons. However in 1967, shortly after China’s hydrogen bomb test, the ROC began a secret nuclear weapons program. Out of the facade of creating energy, Taiwan was able to acquire nuclear materials from the US and Canada. By the 1970’s Taiwan was able to produce weapons grade plutonium in large enough quantities for a bomb. But the US soon found out about the program and pressured Taiwan to dismantle it in 1976.

There is currently no intelligence of Taiwan possessing a bomb, yet they do have the resources to construct one. The PRC has stated that possession of nuclear weapons by the ROC would be grounds for immediate military action. With that kind of threat breathing down their necks, I highly doubt the ROC would risk having a secret nuclear weapons program.

And now for some delicious footage.

Apparently this is from Trinity and Beyond a documentary on the atomic bomb. I have no idea if actual footage of the test exists. If this is real you can easily see the huge propaganda aspect of it.

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