China will not take part in Russia-US nuclear talks

Beijing, Jul 8 (efe-epa).- China reiterated Wednesday that it will not join talks between Russia and the United States to extend the two powers’ Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which expires on Feb. 5, 2021, and accused Washington of “creating pretexts” to abandon international agreements.

China argues that it has far fewer nuclear weapons than Russia and the US and does not feel it should participate in any multilateral arms control negotiations.

“China has no interest in joining the so-called trilateral negotiations, given the huge gap between the arsenal of China, US and Russia. It is unrealistic for China to join this negotiation with the US and, for that matter, Russia for nuclear arms reduction,” Fu Cong, head of the arms control department of the Chinese foreign ministry, said at a press conference on Wednesday.

“When we say there is a huge gap: US’ nuclear arsenal stands a 6,000 nuclear warheads, 20 times the size of the Chinese nuclear arsenal… The US knows full well that this is a huge gap, both in terms of quantity and sophistication,” he added.

“Saying that China poses as a threat when the US has 6,000 does not have any logic,” he said.

In the eyes of China, “for them (the US) to ask China to participate in these negotiations is nothing but a hoax to create a pretext and put blame (on others) and walk away from treaties. Its purpose is to get rid of all restrictions,” Fu added.

“China’s refusal to participate does not mean it is signing away from the denuclearization process, quite the opposite,” according to Fu, who said that “Russia understands China’s position very well and has supported the Chinese position. Russia has not asked China to join, it is the US who did it.”

On the other hand, Fu said that China has been developing intermediate-range missiles but said that unlike the US, which deploys missiles “at the back door of other countries,” China’s projectiles were on its own territory.

“People have reason to be concerned when the US is upgrading and expanding its nuclear arsenal and defense systems in the Chinese neighborhood or in space and retiring from treaties… all this poses a strategic threat to China’s security,” Fu asserted.

Fu said that while China always adheres to the policy of minimal deterrence and will not be the first to fire, that does not mean it should not modernize its defense systems.

In June, the US announced new talks with Russia to renegotiate the nuclear arms control agreement between the two powers and insisted on including China in the process.

After the first round of negotiations in Vienna at the end of last month, Marshall Billingslea, US special presidential envoy for arms control, said that the parties plan to meet again in late July or early August.

Billingslea said Moscow would prefer to hold multilateral negotiations, which would mean including France and the United Kingdom, the other two declared nuclear powers.

The next meeting, which would be held again in the Austrian capital, depends on progress made by the delegations at a technical level in the coming weeks, he added.

The US and Russia currently control 90 percent of all nuclear weapons that exist on the planet.

The New START agreement was signed between the two powers in 2010 and limits the number of strategic nuclear weapons a country can hold, with a maximum of 1,550 warheads and 700 ballistic systems for each of the two countries on land, sea or air.

If Russia and the US fail to reach an agreement, the New START could become the third disarmament treaty that ends under the US presidency of Donald Trump. EFE-EPA


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