WASHINGTON • The Pentagon and Republican congressmen in the United States have aired fresh concerns about China's build-up of its nuclear forces after a new report saying Beijing was building 110 more missile silos.
An American Federation of Scientists (AFS) report on Monday said satellite images showed China was building a new field of silos near Hami in the eastern part of its Xinjiang region.
The report came weeks after another one on the construction of about 120 missile silos in Yumen, a desert area about 380km to the south-east.
"This is the second time in two months the public has discovered what we have been saying all along about the growing threat the world faces and the veil of secrecy that surrounds it," the US Strategic Command said in a tweet linked to a New York Times article on the AFS report.
Early this month, the State Department called China's nuclear build-up concerning and said it appeared Beijing was deviating from decades of nuclear strategy based around minimal deterrence.
It called on China to engage with it "on practical measures to reduce the risks of destabilising arms races".
Republican Congressman Mike Turner, ranking member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, said on Tuesday that China's nuclear build-up was "unprecedented" and made clear it was "deploying nuclear weapons to threaten the United States and our allies".
Another Republican, Mr Mike Rogers, ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the Chinese build-up showed the need to rapidly modernise the US nuclear deterrent.
A 2020 Pentagon report estimated that China's nuclear warhead stockpile was in "the low 200s" and said it was projected to at least double in size as Beijing expands and modernises its forces.
Analysts say the United States has around 3,800 warheads, and according to a State Department fact sheet, 1,357 of those were deployed as at March 1.
Washington has repeatedly called on China to join it and Russia in a new arms control treaty.
Beijing says its arsenal is dwarfed by those of the US and Russia and it is ready to conduct bilateral dialogues on strategic security "on the basis of equality and mutual respect".