THE US is at "huge risk" as fears mount that both China and Russia’s missile development could cause an uncontrollable nuclear war, according to experts.
Washington is currently modernizing its entire fleet while Beijing and Moscow continue to test new missiles and expand their arsenal.
Kingston Reif, Director for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy at the Arms Control Association, said we’re not seeing an arms race that was synonymous with the Cold War but warned the world should be concerned as Russia and China develop their arsenals.
He told The Sun: “In terms of an arms race, I wouldn’t characterize in the same way as it was during the Cold War where the US and Soviet Union built tens of thousands of nuclear weapons.
“We are seeing a new round of major power nuclear competition that could if we don’t take steps to head it off grow even more expansive and dangerous in the years ahead."
Experts are concerned about the risks to national security that competition poses.
Reif said: “If there is renewed nuclear competition among the major powers in particular that poses a significant security risk to the US and its allies.
“It raises concerns about the escalation of a conflict to the nuclear level and it raises concerns about a misplaced confidence among major powers that a nuclear conflict can be kept limited or controlled.
“As the competition continues to evolve, it raises concerns about a race among all of the powers to increase the size, diversity, and capability of its arsenal in reaction to others.”
Peter Gries, of the University of Manchester, said: "You could have a security dilemma which leads to an arms spiral where it decreases security."
Fears of a potential conflict are growing after pictures show Chinese officials digging a field of what looks to be dozens of silos that could be used to launch nuclear missiles.
China appears to be expanding its nuclear arsenal after the Washington Post last month reported Beijing is building more than 100 additional missile silos in the country's northwestern Gansu province.
Gries said: "The silos could be strategic. We don’t know there will be more missiles. We know there are more silos.”
He speculated that Beijing could be trying to enter a negotiating tactic or potentially entering a nuclear arms race, which he feared could have major security implications.
He said: “That’s the danger. If it becomes sort of the common knowledge that China is now expanding its nuclear deterrent, that will put pressure on other actors to respond.”
China’s apparent development of its nuclear weapon stockpile comes as Washington is modernizing its own fleet.
The US' triad consists of three legs – air, sea, and land – and its purpose is to try and reduce the odds of a future nuclear conflict.
Washington is modernizing its Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles – which can travel at a distance of over 15,000mph and has a range of more than 6,000 miles.
Reif branded the land leg the “least stabilizing and valuable” to the triad as he called on Biden to examine cost-effective alternatives.
He warned: “There is significant inertia to build a new intercontinental ballistic missile.
"There’s support for building ICMBs on a bipartisan basis in Congress but there hasn’t been a sufficient examination about potential alternatives to the current plan to build a new system.
“It’s incumbent on the Biden administration at a minimum to evaluate potential alternatives – to evaluate the need for intercontinental ballistic missiles across a wider range of parameters."
The B-52 Stratofortress fighter planes are at the heart of the US military’s global strike capabilities.
There are around 70 jets in service and the planes can reach a top speed of up to 650mph.
They can fly at an altitude of 50,000 ft and can carry up to 31,500kg of bombs and mines.
B-2 fighter jets are extremely aerodynamic which gives them an advantage over different types of bombers.
The plane can travel around 9,600km without being refueled, according to the Defense Department.
The US’ sea leg consists of 14 Ohio class ballistic missile submarines and there's a growing consensus among experts that this leg is the most "survivable".
The Ohio class of subs will reportedly be replaced by a highly modernised fleet known as the Columbia class in the 2030s.
They could remain in service until the 2080s.
But despite their apparent future longevity, experts warn about the potential limitations of submarines.
Reif said: “No one can predict what technology will look like in three decades or even a decade from now but there are concerns that our submarines will become vulnerable or our oceans will become more transparent.”
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