The "Baker" explosion, part of Operation Crossroads, a nuclear weapon test by the United States military in the Pacific in 1946. Photo: US Department of Defense

China has called on the US to drop its “Cold War mentality” and not misread its intentions after Washington unveiled a strategy that calls for building up US nuclear forces.

“Peace and development are irreversible global trends. The United States, the country that owns the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, should take the initiative to follow the trend instead of going against it,” China’s Defense Ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

The Pentagon issued a 2018 Nuclear Posture Review on Friday which continues earlier Obama administration efforts to modernize the US nuclear arsenal. The document focuses on creating new nuke deterrents to Russia and China, while addressing North Korean and Iranian nuclear ambitions.

“We must look reality in the eye and see the world as it is, not as we wish it to be,” Defense Secretary James Mattis said in an introduction to the document. The plan puts Russia at the top of the US’s potential adversaries.

USNI News noted that the review mentioned Russia 127 times in the 74-page paper, while North Korea received 49 mentions.

Among other things, the strategy in the short term calls for the US to develop a new nuclear sea-launched cruise missile and a lower-yield nuclear warhead for submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

The nuke posture review also confirmed that preliminary research has started on a ground-launched intermediate missile system that if deployed, would violate a decades-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia.

USNI News says the US research remains within the legal bounds of the treaty. The Pentagon contends that it is designed to counter alleged Russian violations of the pact which prohibits the development of missiles with ranges of between 500 and 5,500 km.