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US dependency biggest nuclear risk: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2019-12-11 21:45

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during the Arctic Council summit at the Lappi Areena in Rovaniemi, Finland, May 7, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

After the United States unilaterally withdrew from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty in August, the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty between the US and Russia — which requires both countries to cut their deployed strategic nuclear warheads to no more than 1,550 — is the only agreement restricting the size of the world's two largest nuclear arsenals.

Russia recently expressed its willingness to extend the treaty — by up to five years — by the end of this year with no preconditions. But the US has shown little enthusiasm to do the same. Which has put the fate of the treaty at risk.

Ironically, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, after a meeting with visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Washington on Tuesday, said, "there is real risk that there is a reduction in strategic stability just staying right where we are". Although that remark was in support of the US stance that China should also be part of a wider nuclear weapons control discussion.

It is not the first time Washington has tried to link New START negotiations with China's participation, a doubtful move that China has firmly opposed. Since by suggesting that China's limited nuclear capacity poses a threat to global strategic stability, and thus must be contained, the US is trying to mislead the public as it pursues absolute security supremacy.

The nuclear strategy released by the current US administration revealed the extent to which the US is relying on a nuclear weapons advantage to maintain its position as the world's sole superpower, Not only has it expanded the circumstances under which the US might consider the use of nuclear weapons, including in response to so-called "non-nuclear strategic threats", it also calls for the development of new, more usable nuclear weapons capabilities.

China, on the other hand, guided by a defensive national defense policy, has never engaged in any form of arms race, and it maintains its nuclear capabilities at the minimum level required for national security. The fact that China has only around 290 nuclear warheads, compared with 6,490 for Russia and 6,185 for the US, speaks for itself. It is also the only country with nuclear weapons that has unequivocally committed itself to no first use and to not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against states that do not have nuclear weapons.

As the country with the largest and most advanced nuclear arsenal, the US should first fulfill its responsibility for nuclear disarmament by responding to Russia's appeal for extending the New START, rather than making China's participation a precondition for it to do so.

Only after the US substantially reduces its gigantic nuclear arsenal and changes its "fire and fury" insistence on nuclear weapons can favorable conditions be created for other nuclear weapons states to join multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations.

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