U.S. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall just told Congress that the most "disturbing" thing that he has seen in his long military career is China's rapid expansion of its nuclear arsenal.
According to Fox News, Kendall said as much on Tuesday when he appeared before the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee.
"I don't think I've seen anything more disturbing in my career than the Chinese ongoing expansion of their nuclear force," Kendall said.
That's really saying something as Kendall, in various capacities, has now spent 50 years in the U.S. military - a career that began back in 1971 when he graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Kendell explained to lawmakers the noticeable change that he has witnessed - with regard to China's nuclear arsenal - during his career.
"For decades, they were quite comfortable with an arsenal of a few hundred nuclear weapons, which was fairly clearly a second-strike capability to act as a deterrent," Kendall said.
But, according to Kendall, China has now turned itself into a country with one of the best nuclear weapons arsenals in the whole world.
"That expansion that they're undertaking puts us into a new world that we've never lived in before, where you have three powers — three great powers, essentially — with large arsenals of nuclear weapons," Kendall told lawmakers.
China isn't slowing down either. It has announced plans to, at least, triple its nuclear warhead stockpile over the next 12 years.
A report from the Pentagon - called Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China - indicates that this stockpile has already "surpassed 400" warheads. This means that, by the end of the 2035 timeline, China could have around 1,500 warheads.
"If China continues the pace of its nuclear expansion, it will likely field a stockpile of about 1,500 warheads by its 2035 timeline," the report reads.
So, what to do about this?
In Kendall's view, the United States ought to start trying to begin a dialogue with China and Russia. During his testimony with lawmakers, he supported this approach using an analogy to the Cold War, arguing that such communication was crucial in preventing nuclear war back then and so it is just as crucial today.
In addition, Kendall highlighted to lawmakers the importance of making every effort to keep ahead of China with regard to military capabilities. Kendall clearly came out in favor of the argument that a strong military with a big arsenal is an essential aspect of deterring China from attempting to enter into a conflict with the United States.