As U.S. Pacific Fleet chief says he’d obey President Donald Trump’s order to launch a nuclear strike on China, here’s what would happen if Trump made the call.

With CIA’s recent assessment that China poses the biggest threat to Washington in the long term, the commander of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet Admiral Scott Swift says he would launch a nuclear strike against China if President Trump ordered him to.

Trump Orders A Nuclear Strike On China
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Addressing an Australian National University security conference on Thursday, Swift, who has led the Pacific Fleet since 2015 and has seen some of Beijing’s most provocative and threatening actions in the disputed South China Sea, said he would launch a nuclear strike on Beijing as soon as “next week,” if President Trump made such an order.

The timing of the statement could not be more inflammable, as China branded the U.S. a “threat to national security” after two of Beijing’s jets nearly crashed into a U.S. surveillance plane earlier this week. Less than 24 hours before the U.S. Pacific Fleet chief said he would be willing to nuke China on Trump’s order, CIA Director Mike Pompeo went public with an assertion that Beijing poses a much bigger threat to U.S. national security than other hostile powers, including Russia and Iran.

But does the decision to launch a nuclear strike on China really come down to only two people – the President and the commander of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet? Well, sort of.

Trump Can Launch a Nuclear Strike on China in ‘Less Than Five Minutes’

The fact that Trump now has the obedience of the U.S. Pacific Fleet chief in the hypothetical, yet possible, decision to launch nuclear strikes against Beijing makes the whole let’s-nuke-China scenario even faster and easier to execute.

Less than five minutes. This is the approximate time that would elapse from President Trump’s decision to launch a nuclear strike against China to shooting intercontinental ballistic missiles out of their silos, according to Bloomberg estimations. The publication, citing former Minuteman missile-launch officer Bruce G. Blair, also estimates that it would take about 15 minutes to fire submarine missiles from their tubes.

While the expert predicts that there might be some minor hiccups in the let’s-nuke-China scenario – like some of the top brass trying to talk Trump out of launching a nuclear strike – it appears that it would be easier for the President to nuke an enemy than expected now that he has the public support from the commander of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet.

US vs China Tensions Rising, But Is Nuclear War Imminent?

The mere thought of a nuclear war between the U.S. and China – the world’s two biggest militaries – sounds intimidating. Amid strained relations between Washington and Beijing, and with Trump recently giving U.S. Navy more freedom in South China Sea, the territory that China considers vital to its national and security interests, the possibility of the two nations going to a nuclear war cannot be ruled out anymore.

With Trump pledging to rein in China’s aggressive territorial expansion in the South China Sea during his presidential campaign, the Trump administration has made quite a few moves that could be pushing the two nations to the point of no return. In May, Trump ordered the U.S. Navy to conduct a freedom-of-navigation operation in the disputed area, which Beijing claims in its entirety despite the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Taiwan also claiming parts of the disputed region.

Earlier this month, the Trump administration sent an even scarier war message to Beijing to challenge its military buildup on the artificial islands in the South China Sea. A U.S. destroyer passed through the international flashpoint in the South China Sea, a move that prompted a furious response from Chinese President Xi Jinping, who warned his American counterpart of “negative factors” in U.S.-China relations. The Chinese Foreign Ministry lambasted the incident as a “serious political and military provocation.”

US vs China War Would Be ‘Disastrous For Both’

Just last week, Trump approved the Pentagon’s plan to challenge Chinese claims in the South China Sea, where Beijing has been actively building reefs into artificial islands capable of hosting military planes. Breitbart News’s Kristina Wong exclusively reported that the President approved the plan to check China over its ongoing militarization of and actions in the South China Sea, a move that will most likely further stain U.S.-China relations.

The latest heated exchange of hostile gestures between Beijing and Washington cannot but make experts wonder: what would happen if the U.S. and China went to war? That would be “disastrous for both sides – politically, economically, and militarily,” according to VICE citing senior vice president for political and security affairs at the National Bureau of Asian Research, Abraham Denmark.

While the two nations continue working together to prevent a potential nuclear threat from China’s neighbor – North Korea – it seems like an even bigger nuclear conflict is brewing between Washington and Beijing.

‘Increased’ Possibility of Nuclear War

In ValueWalk’s recent comparison of the U.S., Chinese and Russian militaries, it was concluded that the outcome of any war involving the U.S. and China is quite impossible to predict, as there’s no telling what would be the scope and duration of the military confrontation and if nuclear weapons would be used.

It’s also unclear if Russia would join forces with its arguably one of the biggest allies – China. If it did, China’s chances of winning a war against Washington would considerably soar. After all, there are plenty of potential flashpoints in the relations between Washington and Beijing, notably Taiwan and the South China Sea. The U.S. has in its possession about 6,800 nuclear warheads – the world’s second largest nuclear arsenal after Russia – while China has only 270 nukes, according to recent estimations by the Arms Control Association.

According to a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, published last year, the U.S. going to “nuclear war with China is not inevitable – but the possibility that it could occur has increased.” However, with Washington and Beijing not being able to find common ground on such a vital issue for China’s national and security interests as the South China Sea, and with Trump ordering more actions that further strain U.S.-China relations, the risk of nuclear war between the world’s two biggest militaries could skyrocket.