China’s import of Russian uranium sparked concerns about the new arms race. China has received 6.5 tons of uranium from Russia in preparation for the launch of the CFR-600 fast-breeder reactor on Changbao Island, as reported by Bloomberg.
The so-called fast-breeder reactor on Changbiao Island in China is reportedly one of the most closely monitored nuclear facilities in the world.
According to US intelligence officials, the CFR-600 will produce weapons-grade plutonium when it begins operating this year. It could allow Beijing to quadruple its warheads stockpile, from 400 to 1,500, in the next 12 years. This would enable China to match the current nuclear arsenals of the US and Russia.
“It is entirely possible that this breeder program is purely civilian. 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,” said Pavel Podvig, a nuclear analyst at the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research based in Geneva.
The delivery of 6,477 kilograms of uranium on 12 December by Russia’s state-owned Rosatom, according to Pentagon officials, fuels a nuclear program that could destabilize the military balance in Asia. It is where tensions are rising over Taiwan and control of the South China Sea.
Concurrently, China rejects US concerns. According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, China has “strictly fulfilled its nuclear non-proliferation obligations” and voluntarily handed “part of civil nuclear activities” to the International Atomic Energy Agency.