The U.S. military is running out of material to make bombs and President Donald Trump’s strained relationship with China could make it harder to obtain the needed supplies, according to an annual report from the Pentagon.
The U.S. munitions sector is exhausted because some suppliers have left the industry in response to bad procurement practices, according to the annual Industrial Capabilities report. As a result, the U.S. is running out of the munitions that it uses in countries like Afghanistan.
The parts for munitions are increasingly made overseas, making the U.S. military more reliant on China for its weaponry. This is the second year in a row that the Pentagon has expressed concern regarding Chinese dominance in the munitions manufacturing industry.
“Nearly all DoD missile systems use Dechlorane as a component in the insulation for their solid rocket motors. There is no domestic supplier for this material; the sole source is Occidental Chemical in Belgium. Even more concerning is that the precursor to make Dechlorane came from China. The Chinese source can no longer produce that pre-cursor and so there is now no source for Dechlorane in the world,”reads the 2017 report.
The Trump administration’s strained relationship with China could make the U.S. even more vulnerable to these potential shortages. Trump claims to have a positive personal relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping, but he has also framed China as a U.S. rival. This rivalry is most notable in the administration’s trade policy.
In March, Trump announced that the U.S. would impose billions of dollars of tariffs on Chinese imports in an effort to reduce the U.S. trade deficit with China. Last year, the U.S. had a $337 billion trade deficit with China, an amount Trump would like to cut in half. Some of the steepest tariffs target China’s steel and aluminum industries.
The new policy angered Beijing, which said that it would retaliate with its own penalties against U.S. exports to China.
This week, the U.S. treasury secretary announced that the administration had put some of the new tariffs on hold until further negotiations with China take place. China has suggested that it may be willing to purchase more U.S. agricultural and energy products in exchange for lower tariffs. The latest round of negotiations did not produce any concrete results and China has been slow to address U.S. concerns over issues like intellectual property theft or government subsidies for key industries, which Washington claims gives Chinese industries an unfair advantage.
While the negotiations continue, Beijing is expanding its influence in the global arms industry. China now constitutes around 5.7 percent of the world’s arms exports, according to a study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, having increased by more than a third in recent years.
Source: Newsweek (Cristina Maza)
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