Beijing – China rejected the US-Russia proposal to join the ‘New START’ nuclear treaty saying that ‘China opposes any incidents of anybody speaking on its behalf and will not participate in any talks on a trilateral agreement on nuclear disarmament’. As per analysts, the United States is believed to have withdrawn from the INF Treaty as China was continuously adding to its nuclear arsenal stockpile. China’s dismissal of the deal, therefore, assumes significance.
Last week, US President Donald Trump had a telephonic conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The hour-long discussions centred on the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), wherein they deliberated on restricting the number of nuclear weapons. The United States had withdrawn from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia a few months ago. Subsequently, the United States was reportedly also said to have prepared to withdraw from the New START. However, analysts claim although, on the face of it, the United States had levelled allegations against Russia and announced to withdraw from the deal, the real reason for the US pulling out were concerns regarding China. It thus significantly increased the importance of the discussions between President Trump and President Putin concerning the New START.
Both the leaders had supposedly discussed the inclusion of China into the historic treaty. China is said to possess a minimum of 300 nuclear weapons. However, US think tanks have earlier claimed that China is not revealing accurate data on the defence preparedness and there is a grave possibility of the actual numbers being much higher.
At the same time, news reports of China, having undertaken the manufacturing of hypersonic and intercontinental missiles had surfaced in recent years. Considering the developments so far, the United States had proposed to include China as a participant in the New START, which restricts the number of nuclear weapons for a country. A few months ago, the United States had withdrawn from the historic INF treaty.
Nevertheless, China is not ready to be a party to the New START treaty between the United States and Russia. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang retorted to the proposal by saying, ‘As a first, the United States and Russia should reduce their nuclear arsenal and only then advise other countries on it.’ Without a direct mention of the United States, Shuang went on to warn not to discuss China’s nuclear arsenal stockpile beyond a point. Moreover, he clarified that China fully supported the stance to destroy any surplus nuclear weapons while also justifying the mainland’s nuclear policy saying that Beijing’s arsenal was far less as compared to the other countries.
Meanwhile, including China along with Russia in the New START deal is considered to be a significant strategic move by the US. Also, Russia is in favour of China’s participation in the New START. Albeit, China has refused to cooperate announcing that it will not be a part of the accord. Thereby the United States may accuse China of being an irresponsible nuclear power and thus strongly justify its aggressive nuclear policies.