Chinese Nuclear Proliferation: How Global Politics Is Transforming China's Weapons Buildup and Modernization

By Susan Turner Haynes | Go to book overview

2 Force Structure Variance

The modernization of nuclear forces is a common imperative across nuclear powers, and the NPT nuclear weapon states are no exception. All five of the NPT nuclear weapon states have plans to modernize their nuclear forces. The difference in their modernization plans, however, is that the United States, Russia, Great Britain, and France are all modernizing increasingly smaller nuclear forces, while China is modernizing a growing nuclear force. This chapter outlines the details behind this variance, providing a brief cross-case narrative of the longitudinal qualitative and quantitative nuclear force decisions of the United States, Russia, Great Britain, and France and contrasting this with the alternate modernization path of China.


The United States and Russia

America produced the world’s first atomic bomb under the aegis of the Manhattan Project in 1945. President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the initiative because he believed Germany was well on its way to developing its own nuclear capability. This belief later proved false, and for four years, America was the world’s only nuclear power. This changed with the Soviet nuclear test in 1949. After this test, a superpower arms race ensued and lasted roughly three decades.

During this time, the United States and Soviet Union also designed and produced a variety of delivery vehicles, including ICBMs, SLBMS, and missiles delivered by bomber. This so-called nuclear triad was envisioned by both countries as a structural requisite for assured nuclear deterrence. It was also justified in terms of providing the state with a range of strategic striking options in case of a nuclear crisis.

Warhead development occurred simultaneously. In fact, from 1945 to

-44-

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Chinese Nuclear Proliferation: How Global Politics Is Transforming China's Weapons Buildup and Modernization
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations viii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Abbreviations x
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - A Typology of Nuclear Strategies 11
  • 2 - Force Structure Variance 44
  • 3 - China’s Nuclear Strategy 58
  • 4 - The Influence of America 91
  • 5 - The Influence of Regional Powers 107
  • 6 - The Influence of Prestige 127
  • Conclusion 136
  • Notes 149
  • Bibliography 165
  • Index 173
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