Washington | The United States and Russia to resume on Monday in Vienna negotiations on arms control, but they appear to be threatened from the beginning by the insistence of Washington to include China, as Beijing refuses.
Ambassador Marshall Billingslea, representative of the u.s. president for the issues of disarmament and the vice-minister of foreign Affairs of russia Sergey Riabkov need to discuss the bilateral treaty the New Start signed in 2010 and which will expire beginning 2021 just after the end of the present term of Donald Trump, candidate for re-election in November.
The terms of the treaty limit to 700 the number of launchers, strategic nuclear deployed and to 1,550 the number of nuclear warheads deployed on those launchers. They also establish a new system of inspection and verification of compliance of the clauses of the agreement.
Moscow calls for discussions on the renewal of this treaty since the end of 2019, but the administration, Trump has previously dragged their feet, insisting on the inclusion of Beijing in the talks.
“Our biggest problem is the lack of transparency in China,” said Friday on CBS the american representative at the disarmament conference in Geneva, Robert Wood.
“The chinese arsenal is going to double over the next ten years. It worries us, of course, a lot,” he added.
Russia and the United States still hold to the two of them, more than 90% of nuclear weapons in the world, according to the latest report of the international Institute of peace research in Stockholm (Sipri).
Washington has, in 2020 some 5 800 nuclear warheads, and Moscow, 6 375, against 320 for Beijing, 290 to Paris and 215 for London, according to the Swedish institute.
China, who believes that his arsenal is still well below that of Moscow or Washington, refuses to participate in tripartite negotiations, but has been open to multilateral discussions.
“The United States should drastically reduce their stocks of nuclear weapons, which would create the conditions for other nuclear powers joining in multilateral discussions of nuclear disarmament”, has tweeted recently the chinese ministry of foreign Affairs.
Song Zhongping, a chinese expert on issues of defence, believes that the ideal level for Beijing would be 2 000 nuclear warheads. “China will not participate in disarmament negotiations between the United States and Russia”, he declared to the AFP.
For Daryl Kimball, director of the independent u.s. Arms Control Association, it is absolutely impossible to negotiate an agreement that is completely new with the Russians, and even less with the Russians and the Chinese, before New Start expires on 5 February 2021.
“At this stage, the only conclusion I can reach is that Marshall Billingslea and the administration Trump has no intention of extending New Start and seek to use the lack of interest in China for trilateral talks as an excuse cynical” to abandon the treaty, he said to the AFP.
Russia, which like the United States and China is modernizing its nuclear arsenal, including missiles hypersonic, wants to enjoy the appointments Monday to extend the discussions to other aspects of the control over armaments, including the nuclear tests, that Washington’s threat to resume.
“We hope these consultations (in Vienna) will be constructive and will help to establish the list of practical measures to normalize the situation in the field of strategic stability”, was shown recently on Russian television, the Russian ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov.
“Today, there is almost no security architecture, or agreements on arms control, the treaty, New Start, and there was just a few months to exist,” he added, saying that they were “pessimistic” about the outcome of the discussions.
Donald Trump has withdrawn the United States from three international agreements on disarmament: one on the iranian nuclear treaty, the INF missile ground-based medium-range, and the open Skies agreement, or Open Skies, aimed to check the military movements and measures for the limitation of armaments of the signatory countries.
For the political analyst, Russian Fyodor Loukianov, “it is not necessary to expect any kind of progress” in Vienna.
“The position of the directors of Trump is very consistent: she gives up almost all restrictions related to the agreements concluded in the past,” he told AFP. “There is no reason to believe that this treaty will be an exception.”
For Shannon Kile, program director, nuclear Disarmament, arms control and non-Proliferation SIPRI, “the era of bilateral nuclear arms control between Russia and the United States could be coming to an end”.