China nuclear warheads: The bombs that could reach the west

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China is one of few countries in the world that have nuclear weapons. As the prospect of nuclear weapons being used has become a pertinent worry following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, takes a look into China’s nuclear arsenal.

What nuclear weapons does China have?

China has a range of nuclear weapons, even if it has a comparatively small arsenal – but exactly what they have is unknown.

Among these are the Dongfeng-5, a single warhead with a range of 13,000km.

China is estimated to have around 18 of these, but the last estimate was provided in 2000.

China also has the CJ-10 long range cruise missile, which made its first public appearance during a military parade in 2019.

Elsewhere, the DH-10 is a second-generation land-attack cruise missile with a range of over 4,000km.

Because China keeps its nuclear weaponry a closely guarded secret, it is suspected – but not known – that many of these weapons could carry nuclear warheads.

All in all, China is known to have the following which could be used to launch nuclear warheads.

• Ballistic Missiles:

◦ DF-1

◦ DF-2

◦ DF-3A

◦ DF-4

◦ DF-5

◦ DF-11

◦ DF-15

◦ DF-21

◦ DF-31

◦ DF-31B

◦ DF-41

◦ JL-1

◦ JL-2

◦ B-611

◦ P-12

• Cruise Missiles

◦ DH-10

◦ CJ-10

◦ HN1

◦ HN2

◦ HN3

◦ CF-2

◦ CF-1

◦ SS-N-2

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The world is estimated to have some 12,700 nuclear warheads, according to the Federation of American Scientists.
While this may seem like a lot, that’s considerably fewer than there were at the height of the Cold War.

Nuclear warheads have decreased from a peak of approximately 70,300 in 1986 to an estimated 12,700 in early 2022.

More than 9,400 of these are in the military stockpiles for use by missiles, aircraft, ships and submarines.

The remaining warheads are retired but are still intact, but awaiting to be dismantled.

Of the 9,400 warheads in the military stockpiles, some 3,730 are deployed with operational forces, such as on missiles or at bomber bases.

Which country has the most nuclear weapons?

How many nuclear weapons a country has is a close-guarded secret in most cases, with nuclear transparency not usually the done thing.

According to the Federation of American Scientists, Russia has the most nuclear warheads in the world, estimating their inventory at 5,977.

The USA, which recently had its nuclear transparency reinstated by the Biden Administration, has 5,428 in its total inventory.

Elsewhere around the world, the number of nuclear warheads is significantly less.

China comes in third, with around 350 nuclear warheads at its disposal.

France has the fourth largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world, with an estimated 290 in its arsenal.

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