10:59 01 Бер 2023

China’s imports of russian uranium raises concerns of new arms race

Visitors stand in front of a giant screen displaying Chinese President Xi Jinping next to a flag of the Communist Party of China, at the Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution in Beijing, China October 8, 2022. REUTERS/Florence Lo

russian nuclear fuel deliveries to a new Chinese reactor have raised US concerns about Beijing's potential to produce weapons-grade plutonium.

Chinese reactor CFR-600 will produce weapons-grade plutonium this year. It may enable the state to quadruple its stockpile of warheads over the course of the following 12 years, the US intelligence reports.

China's so-called fast-breeder reactor on Changbiao Island is one of the world's most closely-watched nuclear installations.

Russian engineers were shipping a big quantity of nuclear fuel to a remote island roughly 220 kilometers (124 miles) off Taiwan's northern shore. It happened after Chinese and American negotiators claimed to have held productive discussions to ease military tensions.

 China would be able to equal the nuclear arsenals that the US and Russia now have in place.

"It is entirely possible that this breeder program is purely civilian,"Bloomberg report quoted Pavel Podvig, a Geneva-based nuclear analyst with the United Nations's Institute for Disarmament Research, as saying.

"One thing that makes me nervous is that China stopped reporting its civilian and separated plutonium stockpiles. It's not a smoking gun but it's definitely not a good sign," Podvig added.

China, however, rejects the US's concerns. The MFA said the state "strictly fulfilled its nuclear non-proliferation obligations" and voluntarily submitted "part of civil nuclear activities" to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The US repeatedly hyped up the "China nuclear threat" as an excuse to expand its own strategic arsenal, Defense Ministry spokesman Tan Kefei said. China maintained a defensive policy that includes no first-use of nuclear weapons, he claimed.

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