US says any new agreement on curbing nuclear weapons should include China, a condition Russia calls ‘unrealistic’.
US and Russian negotiators have concluded a round of nuclear arms control talks in Austria’s capital, Vienna, aimed at producing a new agreement to replace the New START treaty that expires next year.
US negotiator Marshall Billingslea told reporters on Tuesday that the day of high-level “marathon discussions” ended late on Monday.
Billingslea said the talks had been productive enough to establish several technical working groups to delve deeper into the issues in order to pave the way for a second round of talks by late July or early August.
“We both agreed at the termination of our talks that the strategic environment has changed significantly since the New START treaty was signed,” he told reporters. “We can all remember back 10 years ago, the world is, in fact, a radically different place.”
New START imposes limits on the number of US and Russian long-range nuclear warheads and launchers. The deal was made in 2010, but the limits did not take effect until 2018.
It became the last nuclear arms pact between the two nations after the US last year scrapped the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty with Russia, a Cold War-era agreement that both sides had repeatedly accused the other of violating.
The INF treaty was also criticised because it did not cover China or missile technology that did not exist a generation ago.
At a news conference held by the US delegation, Billingslea said any new agreement must include all nuclear weapons and not just strategic nuclear weapons, and should also subject China to restrictions.
He said China had refused a US invitation to be part of the Vienna talks, but that he hoped the international community would pressure Beijing to take part in the future.
Russia, whose delegation returned home on Monday night, did not object to China being part of the talks but Moscow’s representative said it was “unrealistic”.
“The United States has not moved away from its position of including China. From our side, we have explained in detail why we consider it unrealistic to count on China’s participation,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s negotiator in the talks, was quoted as saying by Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency.
“And we will not use our influence on China as the Americans want,” he added.
Russia wants Western European nuclear powers the UK and France to be involved, according to Billingslea.
He said he “wouldn’t rule anything in or out” but that the US did not think the UK or France, with much smaller nuclear arsenals, should be included.
“Both qualitatively and quantitatively the United Kingdom and France are in a very different situation than the arms racing Chinese,” he said.
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