On Tuesday, the US ambassador for disarmament on Tuesday accused China of “resisting” nuclear arms control talks.
“Despite the PRC’s [People’s Republic of China] dramatic build-up of its nuclear arsenal, unfortunately it continues to resist discussing nuclear risk reduction bilaterally with the United States,” Ambassador Robert Wood told a UN conference.
Current estimates put China’s nuclear arsenal at about 320 warheads, which is nowhere near the almost 6,000 the US possesses. Even if Beijing doubles or triples its stockpile within the next 10 years, as China hawks are predicting, it would still be a fraction of what the US has.
Despite the numbers, the US for years now has been calling for China to participate in arms control agreements like Russia does. “To date, Beijing has not been willing to engage meaningfully or establish expert discussions similar to those we have with Russia. We sincerely hope that will change,” Wood said.
China’s envoy who attended the conference later rebuked Wood’s comments and said that Beijing was ready for dialogue on nuclear weapons. “We stand ready to carry out positive dialogue and exchange with all parties to jointly explore effective measures to reduce nuclear risk and to contribute to global strategic security,” said Ji Zhaoyu.
If the US were serious about negotiating an arms control treaty with Beijing, it would have to make a sincere effort to dismantle some of its arsenal, as would Russia. In February, the US and Russia agreed to extend New START, the last piece of nuclear arms control between the two powers.