US, Russia to continue nuclear talks as Washington renews invitation to China

Vienna, Jun 23 (efe-epa).- The United States announced new talks with Russia on Tuesday to renegotiate a nuclear arms control agreement between the two powers and insisted on including China in the process.

Marshall Billingslea, US special emissary for nuclear disarmament, told reporters the parties plan to meet again in late July or early August after the first round of negotiations in Vienna on Monday.

That 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.

Billingslea repeated Washington’s calls for China to take part in the negotiations which he said “should be trilateral” in light of the Asian nation’s growing atomic arsenal.

He added that the construction and expansion of China’s nuclear weaponry will be an important factor in the future disarmament control regime.

He also said the US believes that a future arms control agreement should affect all types of nuclear weapons, not just strategic ones.

Billingslea acknowledged that Russia does not support the US with its plan to pressure China into joining the negotiations.

“Global pressure on China to negotiate continues to grow. Agree with Polish Foreign Ministry that Beijing’s future participation is important,” he wrote in a tweet after the meeting.

“Strategy of ‘hide and bide’ on their crash nuclear weapons build-up won’t fool the world.”

The US department of state said in a tweet that China’s participation “would make the discussion more comprehensive and relevant to our efforts to prevent an arms race”.

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

He added that the nuclear arsenal of the two European countries cannot be compared with that of China, which according to information from US intelligence is expanding both the quantity and quality of its weapons.

China’s goal is to reach 1,000 nuclear warheads in the coming years, compared to 300 now, he said.

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

Representatives from the US and Russia met on Monday to discuss the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) agreement, which expires on 5 February.

These two countries currently control 90 percent of all nuclear weapons that exist on the planet.

The New START was signed 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 powers 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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