Top Admiral Says China And Russia Modernizing Nuclear Weapons Quicker Than US
STRATEGIC COMMAND - Admiral Charles Richard who heads Strategic Command and oversees the nuclear weapons for the United States says that Russia and China are modernizing their nuclear arsenal faster than the US is and warns that if the US does not start investing more into nuclear defense it will be at risk for "losing credibility in the eyes of our adversaries."
Richard stated that Russia is "aggressively engaged" with "conventional nuclear capability development and modernization, and are now roughly 80% complete while we are at zero. It is easier to describe what they are not modernizing -- nothing -- than what they are, which is pretty much everything."
Richard said that China is upgrading its nuclear capabilities so fast that he "can't get through a week right now without finding out something we didn't know about China." and said that China is going through "unprecedented expansion".
Richard also stated that China now has more fast-breeder reactors than it did before and cited that as an example of "how rapidly China is changing, or at least how rapidly we are figuring it out." and stated "With a fast-breeder reactor you now have a very large source of weapons-grade plutonium available to you. That will change the upper bounds of what China could choose to do if they wanted to in terms of further expansion of their nuclear capabilities".
A fast breeder reactor makes more fissile material than it uses up, or consumes. Conventional reactors are cooled by heavy water, but fast breeder reactors are cooled by liquid sodium which has an explosive reaction to both water and air, making FBR more prone to reactor leaks and fires which is why the United States avoids the use of FBR reactors and chooses instead to cool their reactors with heavy water.
Another alarming thing that Richard has learned through intelligence sources is that China has put its nuclear forces to "Launch on warning" posture and "adopting a limited 'high alert duty' strategy". This means that China could strike a target in retaliation immediately after their sensors pick up an enemy threat.
Gone are the days where Russia uses old, outdated technology. Richard said that Russia is "across the board operating new equipment. They are on the second generation of a new ballistic missile submarine. They have a new ballistic missile for that. It's quite capable. They have new road mobile missiles. They have up-gunned their bombers. They have new weapons off their bombers".
Richard said that our missile defenses are adequate for the time being, but "we do need to make sure we pace it into the future against the threats that we're seeing. Without the recapitalization of the existing weapons we risk obsolescence and irrelevance, and we could reach a point where no amount of money will adequately mitigate the operational risks we'll be facing".