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Nuclear-armed state

China has the world's third largest nuclear arsenal. In 2023, it again demonstrated that it lacks the will purposefully to pursue nuclear disarmament. It remained unwilling to adhere to or engage constructively with the TPNW.

TPNW Status

Nuclear warhead inventory at the beginning of 2024
Total inventory of warheads 500
Retired warheads 0
Warheads available for use 500
Estimated yield (MT) 150.5
Hiroshima-bomb equivalents 10033
TPNW Article 1(1) prohibitions: Compatibility in 2023
(a) Develop, produce, manufacture, acquire Non-compatible
Test Compatible
Possess or stockpile Non-compatible
(b) Transfer Compatible
(c) Receive transfer or control Compatible
(d) Use Compatible
Threaten to use Compatible
(e) Assist, encourage or induce Compatible
(f) Seek or receive assistance Compatible
(g) Allow stationing, installation, deployment Compatible
TPNW voting and participation
UNGA resolution on TPNW (latest vote) Voted no (2023)
Participated in 2MSP (2023) No
1MSP delegation size (% women) N/A
Adoption of TPNW (7 July 2017) N/A
Participated in TPNW negotiations (2017) No
Negotiation mandate (A/RES/71/258) Abstained
Other weapons of mass destruction (WMD) treaties
Party to an NWFZ No (4 of 5 NSA protocols)
Party to the NPT Yes (Acceded 1992)
Ratified the CTBT No (Signed 1996, Annex 2 state)
Party to the BWC Yes (Acceded 1984)
Party to the CWC Yes (Ratified 1997)
IAEA safeguards and fissile material
Safeguards agreement Voluntary offer agreement
TPNW Art 3(2) deadline N/A
Small Quantities Protocol No
Additional Protocol Partial
Enrichment facilities/reprocessing plants Yes (Civ, Dual-Use)
HEU stocks 14 MT available for weapons
Plutonium stocks 2.9 tons (Mil)

Latest developments

In 2023, China continued to modernise and dramatically expand its nuclear arsenal. Many States, particularly in the West, expressed grave concerns in 2023 about this ongoing build-up.

China continued to assert that it would never initiate a nuclear war. During the high-level segment of the UN General Assembly in September 2023, China’s Vice-President, Han Zheng, said: ‘Nuclear war must not be fought and nuclear weapons must not be used. China is the only country among the five permanent members of the [UN] Security Council that has pledged no first use of nuclear weapons.’1

In the First Committee of the UN General Assembly in October 2023, China said that it ‘endorses the purposes of the TPNW and understands the wishes and the demands of non-nuclear-weapon States to advance nuclear disarmament’. However, the nuclear disarmament process advocated by the TPNW ‘is divorced from the international security reality and goes against the principle of maintaining global strategic stability, undiminished security for all and step-by-step nuclear disarmament’, it argued.2


  • China should acknowledge that nuclear deterrence is not a sustainable solution for its own or international security, and that any perceived benefits are far outweighed by the risk of nuclear accidents or war.

  • China should comply with its existing obligation under Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and pursue negotiations in good faith on nuclear disarmament.

  • China should urgently adhere to the TPNW. Until it is in a position to do so, it should welcome the TPNW as a valuable component in the global disarmament and non-proliferation architecture, work with the Treaty's states parties on practical steps towards disarmament, and attend the meetings of states parties as an observer.

  • China should also ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

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