In the face of such obstacles, the US attempt to get China to participate in its upcoming arms control talks – with the aim of replacing New START rather than committing to renewing the treaty – does not bode well for future arms control negotiations. After initial opposition, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow was ready to extend the deal, but the Trump administration has yet to make a decision. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian called on the United States to respond to Russia`s offer to extend New START without China and said it would «create conditions for other nuclear-weapon states to join multilateral negotiations on nuclear disarmament.» «New START is the lowest hanging fruit in arms control and a paint test for future conversations,» Baklitskiy said. == can`t agree on this, so why is he sitting at the table? » The clock goes out? Under Trump, Washington abandoned other arms control agreements and withdrew from the INF and, this year, the Open Skies Treaty. U.S. officials also debated whether the first U.S. nuclear tests in 28 years should be conducted in order to pressure Russia and China to agree on a trilateral arms control agreement, according to several reports. As new START approaches and the approach to Washington`s negotiations is called into question, there is growing concern that the current impasse could lead to the expiration of the arms control agreement and possibly trigger a twenty-first century arms race. «Apparently [China] intends to achieve some form of nuclear parity with both the United States and Russia,» Billingslea said. «And whether that parity is qualitative or quantitative from the beginning, it seems that they are really determined.» In particular, he insists that China enter into broader negotiations with Russia to limit the three countries` stockpiles of nuclear weapons.
A tripartite agreement on nuclear arms control has been a goal of US President Donald Trump for more than a year. The White House, which has already withdrawn from other arms control deals for accused Moscow of violations and believing the deals benefit Russia more than the United States, has asked Beijing to join Moscow and Washington in finding a replacement for New START, the 2010 treaty, which limits the number of strategic warheads deployed by the U.S. and Russia to 1,550. Beijing is not limited by modern arms control and U.S. officials have expressed concerns about China`s future arsenal, which could include unregulated nuclear, hypersonic and cyber weapons. «I`m talking about the advent of China, the rise of China and its destabilizing behavior, its search for a significant (rapidly evolving) nuclear program,» Billingslea said on June 25 after talks at NATO headquarters in Brussels. Washington also wants Beijing to be involved because it says it is on track to increase the size and range of its nuclear forces, with Billingslea reporters saying on June 24 that China was aiming to hide its fast-growing arsenal «from the world through its secret and opaque channels.» This broad side led to a quick reaction from Fu Cong, the head of the arms control division at the Chinese Foreign Ministry. «What a strange scene! Show Chinese national flags without China`s agreement on a negotiating table! «He tweeted in response.» Good luck in the New START expansion! Wondering how you can walk? Later, the Russian ambassador to Austria, Dmitry Lyubinsky, said the photo tweeted by Billingslea had been staged and that there were no Chinese flags in the room when the talks took place.
«The whole photo shoot with the flags was strange and leaves questions about the authenticity of these conversations,» Andrey Baklitskiy, an adviser at the PIR Center in Moscow, told RFE/RL. «Is the U.S. doing this for images and to look harsh, or is it advancing a real arms control agenda?» The U.S. desire to involve China comes at a time when Washington and Beijing are increasingly competing globally.