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The United States is about to formally negotiate with Russia to reiterate that the new nuclear disarmament treaty must cover China

The United States is about to formally negotiate with Russia to reiterate that the new nuclear disarmament treaty must cover China

The only strategic nuclear disarmament treaty still in effect in the world is about to expire in eight months. After that, whether the world will see an unconstrained nuclear weapons race depends largely on China's position. The latest statements by senior US officials showed a glimmer of light for the continuation of the nuclear disarmament treaty and the avoidance of a catastrophic nuclear race.

The United States and Russia signed the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in February 2011, limiting the number of nuclear warheads on both sides and the number of missiles carrying these nuclear warheads.

Although this 10-year treaty will expire in February 2021, although negotiations to extend nuclear disarmament treaties usually take a long time, the United States and Russia have not yet started formal negotiations.

President Trump has stated many times in the past year that unless China joins, he will not extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that expires next year.

So far, the Chinese government has clearly stated that it has no intention to participate in the trilateral arms control negotiations between China, the United States and Russia, saying that the United States, as the country with the largest and most advanced nuclear arsenal in the world, should effectively fulfill its special responsibility for nuclear disarmament.

In order to break the deadlock, US Secretary of State Pompeo spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in mid-April to discuss the expiry of the treaty, but made it clear that any future negotiations on strategic nuclear weapons must include China.

Two weeks later, Pompeo spoke with Lavrov again to discuss how to advance the arms control process.

This Thursday, senior Trump administration officials unexpectedly announced that the United States will hold formal negotiations with Russia on a new nuclear disarmament agreement as soon as possible.

On the same day that the United States announced its withdrawal from the Open Sky Treaty signed with Russia, White House National Security Advisor O'Brien was asked in an interview with the Forbes TV show whether the United States would also withdraw from the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that I don't think we will withdraw. We will sincerely negotiate with Russia on nuclear weapons control.

Also on Thursday, President Trump ’s special envoy for arms control, Marshall Billingslea, revealed at a meeting hosted by the Hudson Institute that he and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov had officially launched preparations for nuclear disarmament. Negotiations have been held and progress has been made, including the location where the face-to-face negotiations have been decided, and the specific date depends on how quickly and safely the meeting can be in the new coronavirus epidemic.

However, the Special Envoy of Billingslya emphasized the importance of China ’s participation in the negotiations on nuclear disarmament when speaking with Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov.

Billingsley said that The most important thing is that I fully stated (to him) that we look forward to Russia helping us bring China to the negotiating table. As the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister himself said, China needs to participate in the negotiations.
Tim Morrison, a former senior official of the National Security Council, said that China has long refused to participate in any nuclear disarmament negotiations in order to upgrade its nuclear power faster and on a larger scale.

Morrison said that The People's Republic of China is expanding its nuclear power on a large scale to realize what President Xi said is the vision of being among the world's strongest nuclear power. China has long been riding the free ride provided by international security agreements, but refused Participate in those arms control agreements. 

From the perspective of the Special Envoy for Arms Control, Billingsley, China's rapid development of nuclear forces not only threatens the United States but also poses a threat to Russia, which in turn leads to a nuclear race among the three major powers. He hopes this will provide motivation for Moscow's efforts to persuade Beijing to participate in the next nuclear disarmament negotiations.

Billingsley said that I think some of China's nuclear moves are actually aimed at Russia, and Russia may also wonder how it should respond. Of course, the dynamics between them may force us to take some actions.

Rebecca Hersman, a former deputy assistant secretary in charge of arms control in the Obama administration ’s Department of Defense, told VOA last month that if China cannot be persuaded to join the original arms control framework between the United States and Russia The United States should find other ways to achieve nuclear disarmament, including bilateral dialogue between the United States and China. She said that in the face of the crisis that the nuclear arms control agreement is about to lapse, it is crucial for the security of the United States and the world to start a dialogue as soon as possible.

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