A report released on Monday by the Union of Concerned Scientists concludes that the risk of nuclear war between the United States and China is mounting.
“The governments of the United States and the People’s Republic of China are a few poor decisions away from starting a war that could escalate rapidly and end in a nuclear exchange,” according to the new publication.
The report titled “The Risk of Nuclear War with China: A Troubling Lack of Urgency” noted that ongoing territorial tensions in the South China Sea and policies toward Taiwan have prompted the two governments to expand their nuclear arsenals, which could precipitate an “inadvertent or accidental nuclear war.”
Both China and the United States are developing advanced technical capabilities, including anti-satellite weapons, missile defenses and conventional precision-guided munitions, which will likely erode trust between the two nations.
United States and Chinese officials see the risk of nuclear use differently, the Union of Concerned Scientists warned in a Press Release on Monday.
"US officials believe that if a military conflict starts, nuclear weapons may be needed to stop it — but Chinese officials assume no nation would ever invite nuclear retaliation by using nuclear weapons first," the report continues.
The new policy paper recommends both governments acknowledge the growing risk of military conflict and invest more time and effort pursuing diplomatic solutions to the problems that divide them.
The new study comes on the eve of President Obama’s historic trip to Hiroshima, the site where the United States first used a nuclear weapon.
Obama’s visit will raise questions about his nuclear arms control legacy and how his administration’s policies toward Asia are affecting the region. Leading up to his trip, President Obama reiterated he would not apologize for the devastating attack.