Citing satellite images, US scientists have claimed that China is building a second nuclear missile silo field with a capacity of approximately 110 silos, in what they call “the most significant expansion of the Chinese nuclear arsenal ever.”
Matt Korda and Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists said in a report on Monday that the second missile silo field is located 380 kilometers (240 miles) northwest of the Yumen field, near the prefecture-level city of Hami in northwestern China's Xinjiang autonomous region, home to around 10 million Turkic Uyghur people.
Satellite images show that construction of the nuclear missile field is underway, the report said.
"The Hami missile silo field is in a much earlier stage of development than the Yumen site. Construction began at the start of March 2021 in the southeastern corner of the complex and continues at a rapid pace," it read.
The report added: "Since then, dome shelters have been erected over at least 14 silos and soil cleared in preparation for construction of another 19 silos. The grid-like outline of the entire complex indicates that it may eventually include approximately 110 silos."
Korda and Kristensen stressed the impact of the construction for the Chinese nuclear arsenal, saying, "The silo construction at Yumen and Hami constitutes the most significant expansion of the Chinese nuclear arsenal ever," calling the overall silo missile program “the most extensive silo construction since the US and Soviet missile silo construction during the Cold War."
Earlier this month, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price voiced concern over the speedy expansion of China’s nuclear capabilities.
Reports suggest that China’s “nuclear arsenal will grow more quickly, and to a higher level than perhaps previously anticipated," Price told reporters on June 1.