Beijing fires nuclear dare at US for talks


Beijing said yesterday that US demands for it to join nuclear disarmament talks with Russia are a ruse to sink the negotiations, but it could take part if Washington and Moscow lower their arsenals to China's level.

American and Russian officials held talks in Vienna last month on a replacement for 2011's Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which limits each side to 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads. The treaty is scheduled to run out in February.

President Donald Trump has insisted China be included in new talks, citing what he says is the free rein Beijing has to develop weapons.

Beijing has not shown interest in participating.

Fu Cong, director general of the Department of Arms Control at China's foreign ministry, said the US pressure is "nothing but a ploy" and to "create a pretext" for the Americans to walk away from the new Start talks.

"Their real purpose is to get rid of all the restrictions and have a free hand in seeking military superiority over any adversary, real or imagined," Fu added.

The United States and Russia hold more than 90 percent of the world's nuclear weapons, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. It says Russia has 6,375 nuclear warheads and the United States 5,800.

By contrast, China has 320 while among other nuclear-armed nations France has 290 warheads and Britain 215.

While rejecting the idea of Beijing joining talks, Fu said: "I can assure you that if the US says that they are ready to come down to the Chinese level China will be happy to participate the next day. But actually we know that it's not going to happen. We know the US policy."

The priority for Beijing is for Washington and Moscow to extend the Start treaty and continue to reduce their arsenals on that basis, Fu said.

And China "will participate when their nuclear arsenals come down to a level comparable to the level of Chinese nuclear warheads."

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