US-Russia Agree On Talks To Prevent News Arms Race
By Stefan J. Bos, Special Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – U.S. and Russian negotiators have agreed to continue talks on how to prevent a new nuclear arms race. Still, concerns remain over China’s opposition to being included in the negotiations.
Their announcement came after a two-day marathon meeting in Vienna, Austria, this week to discuss the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which expires in February.
The New START accord imposes the last remaining limits on U.S. and Russian deployments of strategic nuclear arms to no more than 1,550 each. It can be extended for up to five years if both sides agree. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he is ready to continue.
But U.S. President Donald Trump demands that China joins the United States and Russia in talks on an agreement to replace New START. China, which as about 320 nuclear weapons, has rejected Trump’s proposal. New START is the last nuclear arms pact between the U.S. and Russia after Washington last year scrapped the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia.
That decision came as both sides accused each other of violating that Cold War-era agreement. The INF treaty was also criticized as it did not cover China or missile technology that did not exist a generation ago.
Amid the wrangling, U.S. negotiator Marshall Marshall Billingslea urged the international community to pressure Beijing to take part in future talks. “The United States is not engaged in an arms race,” Billingslea told reporters.
“Of course, we will not be left behind, but we seek to avoid this. And this is why a three-way nuclear arms control deal, in our view, has the best chance of avoiding an incredibly destabilizing three-way nuclear arms race.”
However, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov cautioned it was “unrealistic” for Washington to expect China to take part in the talks. He told Russian media that Moscow isn’t willing “to influence Beijing in the way that the Americans would like.”
Despite the disagreements on how to approach China, both sides agreed to establish several technical working groups to prepare for a second round of talks by late July or early August.
The U.S. attempt to bring China on board got off to an awkward start. Billingslea, on Monday, posted a photo on social networking site Twitter of the negotiating table set up with Chinese flags in front of vacant seats. “China is a no-show,” the caption said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian responded by saying it was “neither serious nor professional for the United States to attract attention in this way.”
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