China "always abides by the principle of no first use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances", Mr Ren said, and will "unconditionally not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states".

"The US Defense Department published the country's nuclear doctrine, which contained absurd assumptions on China's development plans, exaggerating the threat of the Chinese nuclear forces, we strongly oppose this", a statement, published on the ministry's official WeChat account, read.

"Our long-term aim must continue to be a world without nuclear weapons", Gabriel continued - the stated aim of United States nuclear policy under former president Barack Obama.

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Regarding China, in addition to describing the Asian country as an adversary, Washington pointed out that it is ready to prevent Beijing from taking advantage if it uses that military technology in Asia or accepts its use in a lesser scale.

The review of US nuclear policy is coming days after the director of the CIA Mike Pompeo revealed in an interview with the BBC that China is a "big threat" to the United States of America just as Russian Federation which has been fingered to have influenced the last presidential polls which brought Donald Trump to power.

His comments late Saturday came a day after the Pentagon revealed plans to revamp its nuclear arsenal, largely in response to a perceived renewed threat from Russian Federation.

China's nuclear arsenal is relatively small, estimated by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute at just 270 warheads compared with 6,800 for the US.

"Expanding flexible US nuclear options now, to include low-yield options, is important for the preservation of credible deterrence against regional aggression", the report says. China has also long maintained it will never allow first use of its atomic weapons.

What is the new USA policy?

"Mr Zarif also said in his tweet: "(U.S. President Donald) Trump's obduracy in killing the #JCPOA (Iran's nuclear deal with world powers) stems from the same unsafe imprudence".

On Twitter, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also lashed out.

Elisabeth Braw, a researcher with the Atlantic Council, said: "While the Nuclear Posture Review may contain no radical departures from the Obama administration's nuclear policy, the public debate is already focusing on the low-yield nuclear weapons".

The ultimatum put pressure on European Union powers - key backers and parties to the 2015 global agreement to curb Iran's nuclear programme - to satisfy Mr Trump, who wants the pact strengthened with a separate agreement.

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