Most estimates gauge the Chinese nuclear force at up to 500 weapons.
But “if the Chinese are going to go forward with all these modernization efforts which they are undertaking — road, mobile and air — they are going to upend the entire [U.S.-Russian] arms control regime that currently exists,” said C. Richard D’Amato, also a panel member, according to a November CNN report.
“They need to be brought into some sort of dialog to develop some kind of understanding as to where we are all going together on arms control,” D’Amato said.
The New York Times also reported that Obama’s deputies are looking to cut spending on the laboratories that maintain the U.S. nuclear weapons.
Without constant maintenance and periodic refueling with a radioactive form of hydrogen called tritium, nuclear weapons gradually lose most of their explosive power.
In 2009, Obama promised to boost the labs in exchange for GOP support of a U.S.-Russian treaty reducing nuclear weapons to 1,550 by 2018.
But Obama is now “already moving quietly … to explore whether he can scale back a 10-year, $80 billion program to modernize the country’s weapons laboratories,” said the New York Times newspaper.
Technically, the proposed weapon reduction would need approval from Congress. But Obama is the military’s Commander in Chief, and has the legal authority to deploy or store nuclear weapons already funded by Congress, unless Congress specifically limits his actions.