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  • The treaty involves a reduction of strategic nuclear missile launchers number.

    The treaty involves a reduction of strategic nuclear missile launchers number. | Photo: AFP

Published 9 June 2020
Opinion

The treaty, known as New START (New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) was signed on April 8, 2010, in Prague and came into force on Feb. 5, 2011. 

China's Foreign Affairs Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made it clear Tuesday that Beijing is not interested in participating in a trilateral strategic nuclear arms control treaty with Russia and the United States.

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On May 8, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall S. Billingslea posted on Twitter an announcement explaining an agreement reached with the Kremlin. "Today agreed with the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov on time and place for nuclear arms negotiations in June. China also invited. Will China show and negotiate in good faith?" he said.

Hours later, Beijing answered that their way to apply national defense policies is different from the way U.S. and Russia do it. "(Our) nuclear force is always kept at the minimum level required by national security," the spokeswoman said. “We oppose any country’s attempt to make an issue out of China on arms control."

A rather pressing matter as the 2011 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) treaty, the only U.S.-Russia arms control pact limiting deployed strategic nuclear weapons, expires in February 2021. And due to the fact, the U.S. withdrew from both the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), which  Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned could lead to an “arms race” with likely worse consequences than the Cold War.

“China believes it is imperative for countries with the largest nuclear arsenals to earnestly fulfill their responsibility in nuclear disarmament in line with the consensus of the international community...creating conditions for other countries to participate,” a Chinese official concluded back in May 2019, when the government also rejected any involvement.

The New Start treaty can be extended for five years if both sides agree. Without the agreement, it could be harder to gauge each other’s intentions, arms control advocates say. The treaty calls for reducing down to 50 percent the number of strategic nuclear missile launchers.

In that line, Billingslea twitted that China should reconsider its decision and that both U.S. and Russia will be waiting for Beijing to meet them in Vienna to sign the treaty. "Achieving Great Power status requires behaving with Great Power responsibility. No more Great Wall of Secrecy on its nuclear build-up."

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