The United States and Russia have launched on Monday in Vienna in their negotiations on the future of the last arms control agreement on nuclear is still in force between the two powers, whose existence is threatened by Washington’s insistence to include China.
The american president Donald Trump made pressure for Beijing to participate in a future agreement that would be signed to replace the bilateral treaty New Start, signed in 2010 and which expires on 5 February 2021.
But China refuses to participate in tripartite negotiations and it is therefore in the presence of only the delegations of the Russian and the u.s. that started Monday, the talks held behind closed doors in a palace in the austrian capital.
Ambassador Marshall Billingslea, representative of the u.s. president on disarmament matters, and the vice-minister of foreign Affairs of russia Sergey Riabkov lead the discussions, which are expected to last until Tuesday, and which experts fear a failure.
“The administration Trump has no intention of extending New Start at this stage and seeks to use the lack of interest in China for trilateral talks as an excuse cynical” to abandon the treaty, told AFP Daryl Kimball, director of the independent u.s. Arms Control Association.
Flags chinese without China
Tool a progressive disarmament treaty, the New Start maintains the arsenals of the two countries well below the level of the cold War, limited to 700 the number of launchers, strategic nuclear, and to 1,550 the number of nuclear warheads.
The United States justify their requirement to include China through the nuclear capacity in the rapid expansion of Beijing.
Illustration of the pressure american, ambassador Marshall Billingslea said Monday “the lack” of chinese delegation in Vienna, by tweeting a photo of the negotiating table and empty places flanked by small flags chinese.
“Beijing always hides behind the Great Wall of secrecy on its rise as a nuclear power, and other things as well,” said the american representative in this tweet.
This photo has provoked fierce replica chinese side : the director general of the department of arms control of the ministry of foreign Affairs, Fu Cong has responded directly to the diplomat, reproaching him for having disposed of the flags the chinese on the table ” without the consent of China! “.
“Good luck to the extension of New Start! I wonder how one could fall so LOW? “, he further tweeted.
Russia and the United States still holds 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 does not reject any discussion about nuclear energy, focusing on the multilateral framework.
“The United States should drastically reduce their stocks, which would create the conditions for other nuclear powers join multilateral talks “, has tweeted recently the chinese ministry of foreign Affairs.
Russia expressed its readiness to extend the treaty to New Start, whose disappearance would be a new milestone in the resumption of the arms race.
“Do not extend (New Start) would be a huge step back “, warned Monday Beatrice Fihn of the international Campaign to abolish nuclear weapons (ICAN), a group that won the Nobel peace prize in 2017.
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 verification of military movements and of the limitation of armaments.
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 “.