China appears to be making “significant progress” in building missile silos in the western part of the country, according to a report from the nonpartisan research center Federation of American Scientists (FAS).
The report released Tuesday detailed rapid construction at three suspected missile silo fields near the cities of Yumen, Hami and Ordos based on commercial satellite images.
As the report notes, the Chinese government has not confirmed or denied that the facilities under construction are for silos.
The report also noted that the apparent silo fields are “many years away” from becoming fully operational, and it’s unclear how China will arm and operate them.
“For China, this is an unprecedented nuclear buildup,” the report states. “It is important that the buildup does not further increase nuclear competition and fuel worst-case planning in other nuclear weapon states, although we fear those are likely outcomes.”
Concerns in the United States and other countries have been growing about China’s nuclear capabilities. Earlier this year, China reportedly conducted two possible hypersonic weapons tests over the summer, which included the launch of a hypersonic weapon into space.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley told Bloomberg Television’s “The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations” that the apparent test was “very close” to a Sputnik moment, referring to 1957, when the Soviet Union launched the first satellite into orbit.
Tuesday’s report states that China appears to be constructing roughly 300 new missile silos across the country.
FAS said it has observed “almost weekly progress” in constructing the silos, as well as facilities that “appear to support intended missile operations” once the fields become observational.
The report also described three different types of shelters that are being used to protect the facilities from environmental factors.
The report isn’t the first time FAS has warned of China ramping up nuclear silos. In late July, FAS reported that China appeared to be building a facility in Hami, roughly 240 miles northwest of Yumen. This came after the group reported that China was constructing 120 silos in Gansu.
After the report of the Hami facility, the U.S. Strategic Command said it was 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.”