Nuclear Concerns over the ‘Silk Road’

The Chinese ‘Silk Road’ project certainly raises concerns for those concerned the the state of international relations, world economy, and globalization among a myriad of other realities sure to be transformed under arguably the largest Engineering enterprise in human history. However, what would the ‘Silk Road’ mean for the state of nuclear security across the world? While this question deserves expansive investigation by the most capable of analysts across the world, it is useful to outline a few preliminary observations.

First, the Chinese nuclear missile arsenal is one of the most innovative and capable weapons systems ever developed by a nuclear capable military. One of it defining hallmarks is the ability to be horizontal rather than vertical. This horizontal system allows for rapid deployment, mobility, and unpredictability. Successful minimum deterrence strategy was largely dependent upon the opponent’s ability to remain aware of and track the nuclear capabilities of the adversary. Removing this key component of minimum deterrence strategy fundamentally changes current nuclear arms strategy and requires a creative fresh look at the use of nuclear weapons. The Chinese controlled ‘Silk Road’ project could potentially allow the Chinese military to expand its already capable horizontal deployment capabilities to even more mobile weapons. Mobile across nations even. This possibility would make the Cuban Missile Crisis appear as a minor issue by comparison. Risking an extreme alarmist view, though unlikely the ‘Silk Road’ could enable China to virtually hold the world hostage by placing rapidly deployable short range nuclear missile across the entire Euro-Asia continent.

Furthermore, the ‘Silk Road’ project virtuously promotes the development of Pakistan among other impoverished nations. The obvious political insults to failed nation building efforts by the United States aside, the Chinese development of Pakistan would have impacts upon nuclear security. Pakistan unlike other impoverished nations is nuclear capable. Though its nuclear capability is limited (perhaps intentionally), the reality remains that extensive economic development of Pakistan would certainly lead to an overhaul of Pakistani nuclear weapons. Ideally, the entire ‘Silk Road’ project would encourage non-proliferation and disarmament thereby easing tensions between Pakistan and rival India. However, the possibility of worsened relations due to expanded Pakistani nuclear capabilities must still be entertained.

While much analysis still needs to be made on all aspects of the massive ‘Silk Road’ project, the concerns of nuclear destabilization should not be left aside. It should be of great concern of those with the ability to perform the work necessary to ensure security if the ‘Silk Road’ project comes to pass.


McDonald, Joe and Ahmed, Munir and Wong, Gillian, “‘Silk Road’ plan stirs unease over China’s strategic goals”, Associated Press May 11, 2017 acessed May 13, 2017 at b4667b8165294d88a4d1eff53caafecd/’Silk-Road’-plan-stirs-unease-over-China’s-strategic-goals?utm_campaign=SocialFlow&utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=AP

Blanchard, Ben, “China says all welcome at Silk Road forum after U.S. complains over North Korea” Reuters May 13, 2017 accessed May 13, 2017 at china-silkroad-idUSKBN189044

Bracken, Paul, The Second Nuclear Age: Strategy, Danger, and the New Power Politics, New York: Times Books, 2012

Johnson, Kay, “Pakistan signs nearly $500 million in China deals at Silk Road summit,” Reuters May 13, 2017, accessed May 13, 2017 at -idUSKBN1890KD

Baculinao, Eric, “Belt and Road Initiative: China Plans $1 Trillion New ‘Silk Road’”, NBC News May 12, 2017 accessed May 13, 2017 at plans-1-trillion-new-silk-road-n757756


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