CHILLING satellite images appear to show China is ramping up its nuclear testing capability.
It comes amid fears Beijing is bolstering its arsenal as it flexes its military muscle at the US in a suspected arms race.
Analysis of fresh satellite photos appear to show China is upgrading its nuclear test facilities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, reports Nikkei.
Explosive testing in the area was paused 25 years.
Satellite images appear to show excavation of a new tunnel in a mountain, while unpaved white roads lead from a command post at the Lop Nur nuclear test site.
They also reveal power transmission cables and an area cleared to potentially store weapons, the outlet reports.
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According to analysts, the nuke testing site is secured by the People's Liberation Army.
An expert from AllSource Analysis, a US private geospatial company, told Nikkei: "China could conduct nuclear-related tests anytime, especially since the electricity line and road system now connects Lop Nur's western military nuclear test facilities to new possible test areas in the east."
It comes after China's chilling "war signal" was allegedly heard in official circles as the country held military drills near Taiwan.
The phrase “Don’t say we didn’t warn you” was issued before China’s last two war major wars and has now been invoked as it conducts military drills ahead of Nancy Pelosi’s proposed visit to Taiwan.
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US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – a vocal critic of China – is reportedly planning a visit to Taiwan, which Beijing regards as being part of its territory.
China conducted live-fire exerciseslast week in waters near Pingtan Island of Fujian province, which is opposite the self-governing island of Taiwan.
Recent days saw US warships scrambled to the South China Sea as tensions soar over the visit and fears it could lead to war.
The Institute of Taiwan Studies in Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the country’s highest-level think tank, discussed the visit, Global Times reports.
The fiercely nationalistic paper said the phrase "Don't say we didn't warn you" frequently came up in discussions.
The phrase was used in official media in 1962 before China went to war with India and ahead of the 1979 China-Vietnam conflict, says Global Times.
Meanwhile, Britain's top security chief has warned the world is edging ever closer to a catastrophic nuclear war, amid threats from China, North Korea and Russia.
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National Security Adviser Sir Stephen Lovegrove sounded the chilling alarm amid fears China and Russia are upgrading their weapons of mass destruction.
And he said the war in Ukraine, coupled with the secretive regimes in both Moscow and Beijing, means we are "more likely to see 'escalation wormholes' — sudden, unpredictable failures in the fabric of deterrence causing rapid escalation to strategic conflict".
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