New START Has One Year Left
The Chinese government has restated its refusal to participate in any arms control talks with the U.S. and Russia:
But Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang accused the US of using China’s involvement as “a pretext to shirk and shift its own nuclear disarmament responsibilities”.
“China has no intention to participate in the so-called China-US-Russia trilateral arms control negotiations,” Geng said at a regular press briefing in Beijing.
China has never wanted to be part of a trilateral arms control treaty, and that isn’t about to change. The Trump administration has refused to extend New START, and it has used this idea of including China in a larger treaty as a smokescreen to justify killing the existing treaty. The administration’s feigned interest in a much more ambitious arms control treaty is a transparent attempt at distracting from their desire to let the last remaining major arms control agreement wither and die. Some current and former administration officials imagine that by delaying the extension of the treaty it somehow gives the U.S. additional leverage with Russia, but each day that the treaty’s expiration draws closer the less seriously Moscow will take U.S. demands.
New START has just one year left without an extension. Even if China were willing to talk, there is not remotely enough time to put together a new treaty and ratify it before the current treaty expires. Under the circumstances, the Trump administration’s stalling on the extension is obvious proof of their bad faith. Hard-liners in and around the administration are ideologically opposed to arms control agreements, and they have been eager to get rid of all of them.
Letting the treaty die would be one of the more irresponsible things that Trump has done as president. At best, this will have a destabilizing effect on U.S.-Russian relations and it will significantly reduce what our military knows about Russia’s nuclear forces. At worst, this will open the door to a new costly and ruinous arms race that puts the world in greater peril.