The head of U.S. Strategic Command warned Congress this week that Washington faces a heightened nuclear deterrence risk when it comes to Russia and China. The U.S. Strategic Command oversees the nuclear arsenal.
Adm. Charles Richard told the Senate’s strategic forces panel that the country is facing a “crisis deterrence dynamic” that has only ever been seen a few times ever in U.S. history.
Richard said that the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine and China’s nuclear trajectory demonstrates that there exists a deterrence and assurance gap based on the threat of limited nuclear employment.
Richard is a member of the Nuclear Weapons Council. His appearance in Congress comes during the first-ever hearing assembled by the Senate Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee.
Richard emphasized that the U.S. and its allied nations have not faced a crisis like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in more than 30 years. Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded a sovereign nation and only used thinly veiled nuclear threats to deter U.S. and NATO intervention.
Richard also spoke about China, saying that the country is watching the Russian war in Ukraine and that they will likely use nuclear coercion to their advantage in the future. He warned that China intends to achieve the military capability to reunify Taiwan by 2027, if not even sooner.
China has doubled its nuclear stockpile over the past two years, Richard said, despite international expectations that it would take Beijing until about 2030 to do this.