The US has detonated more than 1,000 nuclear warheads since 1945, when a nuclear bomb was set off for the first time as part of the Manhattan Project.
In contrast, China has carried out only 45 live tests starting from 1964.
“It is possible we are in a hurry to catch up,” Wang said.
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However, if China’s intensive tests triggered a new nuclear arms race by spurring counter action from the US, “that would be bad news for everyone”, he added.
But China has likely surpassed the US in some important areas in nuclear weapons research, according to Luo Guoqiang, another researcher at the lab.
“Part of the drive comes from technical breakthroughs, and part from increased financial support from the government,” Luo said.