The United States is “absolutely ready” not to extend the Strategic Offensive Arms Reduction Treaty (START), but is considering all options, the Washington Post reports citing senior US officials.
“We are absolutely ready to leave. But I would soften it by saying that in fact all options are being considered,” a senior US administration source told the publication.
US authorities continue to insist on involving China in nuclear arms control negotiations to conclude a tripartite agreement, but Beijing has repeatedly rejected such an opportunity. It is unclear exactly how the Trump administration plans to force China to participate in the negotiations.
So, in May, the special envoy of the US president for arms control Marshall Billingsley said that it was possible to prolong the START Treaty, but this was “the wrong basis for the future.”
“The right foundation for the future is a tripartite approach that is based on effective verification,” he said.
“What I disagree with and what I consider to be very dangerous thinking during the Cold War is the assertion that the Chinese need to be allowed to achieve strategic nuclear parity with the United States and Russia before we can exercise meaningful arms control. That would mean that we’re actually in the midst of a tripartite arms race, ” added Billingsley.
An American special envoy said he relies in part on Russian assistance.
Meanwhile, according to a senior source of the publication, the US claim that China conducted low-power nuclear tests could be the beginning of a pressure campaign aimed at encouraging Beijing to negotiate.
“In the end, they will decide what they don’t like when it all goes on the air publicly, the details of what they do during the secret build-up,” said a senior Trump administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
He added that the United States will “mobilize world opinion against them if they do not negotiate with us,” and is considering many other options for “encouraging participation.”
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On June 22, the United States and Russia will hold a meeting in Vienna on arms control. The United States will represent Billingsley, and Russia – Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.
Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Tuesday that China has no plans to participate in any tripartite arms control talks with Russia and the United States.