The independent resource on global security


China maintains an estimated total stockpile of about 260 nuclear warheads, a number which has remained relatively stable but is slowly increasing.

It is widely believed that in peacetime China stores its nuclear warheads in storage facilities separate from their delivery vehicles and that they are not ready for immediate launch. Of its planned triad of land, air and maritime nuclear forces, only the land-based ballistic missiles and nuclear-configured aircraft are currently considered operational. About 190 warheads are assigned to these forces. The remaining warheads are assigned to non-operational forces, including new systems that are under development, operational systems that may increase in number in the future and reserves.