Here is another posting related to this topic to balance the earlier piece from the Washington Post.
A study from Georgetown University incorrectly suggests that China has 3,000 nuclear weapons.The estimate is off by an order of magnitude.
By Hans M. Kristensen
According to the International Panel on Fissile Materials, China has produced an estimated 2 tons of plutonium for weapons. Some has been consumed in nuclear tests, leaving roughly 1.8 tons. The estimate is consistent with what the U.S. government has stated and theoretically enough for 450-600 warheads.
Total production of HEU is thought to have been approximately 20 tons. Some has been spent in nuclear tests and research reactor fuel, leaving a stockpile of some 16 tons. That’s theoretically enough for roughly 640-1,060 warheads.
Another critical material is Tritium, which is used in thermonuclear weapons. China probably only produces enough Tritium at its High-Flux Engineering Test Reactor (HFETR) in Jiajiang to maintain an arsenal of about 300 weapons.
The U.S. intelligence community concluded in 2009 that China likely has produced enough weapon-grade fissile material to meet its needs for the immediate future. In other words, no vast warhead expansion is in sight.
Phi Beta Iota: We are reminded of how the British government sacrificed its intelligence and integrity in copying from a university paper to inflate the Iraq WMD threat, and we continue to believe that the “restricted” papers the students were given are both grounds for an investigation of their professor, and grounds for an Inspector General if not a Department of Justice inquiry into illegal PSYOP funding influence from the Pentagon to Georgetown University. It merits positive comment that neither the CIA’s “all source” Directorate of Intelligence nor the CIA’s Open Source Center are capable of this level of work–the students, and their professor–have done a great deal of good. They simply cannot combine — as the CIA and DIA cannot combine — open sources in all languages; deep analytic tradecraft; and rigorous personal integrity….nor does the CIA have any clandestine assets in China relevant to this particular inquiry, nor does the US Intelligence Community have leadership capable of focusing all-source collection and requisite (non-existent) processing on this vital question. On the one hand, the Pentagon is correct to say that the US intelligence community stinks on all questions Chinese; on the other, the Pentagon and the White House are telling impeachable lies to Congress and the public on all matters relating to the Chinese threat and the Pentagon budget. Our personal speculative estimate of China’s nuclear capability is closer to 30 operable weapons, to which we add that the US has never actually tested any of its nuclear weapons–we literally do not know if they will work as advertised.