The Chinese Foreign Ministry said the decision by Russia and the United States to extend the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-3) is an important but still insufficient step. The PRC noted that these two countries still own more than 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons. According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Moscow and Washington need to reduce their arsenal. China also called on the other members of the “nuclear five” (Russia, China, Great Britain, the United States and France) to discuss not only nuclear weapons, but also other pressing issues of world security. For example, actions in space.
China welcomes the extension of START III and the new position of the United States, which were against the treaty during President Donald Trump, said Fu Cong, Director of the Arms Control Departm-ent of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, at a briefing.
“[At the same time], we do not believe that this is enough, because even after the extension of START III, the United States and Russia together have more than 90 percent of the nuclear weapons existing on Earth,” he added.
The diplomat said that Russia and the United States should continue to reduce their nuclear arsenals. Moreover, Moscow and Washington must legally establish that they undertake not only to reduce, but also to irreversibly destroy such weapons.
Fu Cong clarified that if Russia and the United States reduce their nuclear arsenal to the level of China’s, Beijing will be happy to join START III.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Russia, the United States and China in 2021 remained the world leaders in the number of nuclear weapons. Russia had more than 6 thousand nuclear missiles, the United States had about 5.5 thousand, and China had 350 units.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry also indicated on January 4 that Beijing will continue to modernize its own nuclear weapons. Fu Tsun explained that this is necessary to protect the country. “Our nuclear capabilities are being kept at the lowest level necessary for national security,” he said.
The diplomat denied US statements that China is significantly increasing its nuclear potential. Last November, the Pentagon announced that China is capable of increasing its nuclear arsenal to 700 nuclear warheads by 2027 and at least 1,000 by 2030. In July, US media outlets such as the Washington Post and the New York Times began to report that China was building ICBM sites. At the same time, the publications referred to the conclusions of experts who analyzed satellite images. Fu Cong called such an analyst controversial and “frivolous.”
As the diplomat explained, Beijing “has always adhered to the policy of not being the first to use nuclear weapons.” “We affirm that nuclear wars cannot be won and cannot be fought,” Fu Cong emphasized.
In addition, he called on the states of the “nuclear five” to discuss not only n-uclear weapons, since strat-egic stability in the world is not limited only to this issue. Fu Tsun believes that the latest technologies, missile defense, space and artificial intelligence should be included in the agenda.
What is START-3
The United States and Russia signed START III in 2010 in Prague, and the treaty entered into force in 2011. It obliges both sides to reduce the number of nuclear warheads to 1,550, and the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles, missiles on submarines and strategic bombers to 700.
The contract expired in February 2021. Russia offered to extend it for the maximum possible period of five years, without changing the conditions. However, the Trump administration has been opposed.
The White House insisted that China join START III. In the end, after Trump lost the presidential election, Joe Biden’s new administration agreed with Russia. In February last year, START-3 was extended, leaving the agreements unchanged.
China then also announced that it was ready to join the treaty only if the United States reduced its arsenal to the level of the PRC.
At the same time, the Chinese Foreign Ministry noted that Moscow, unlike Washington, treats China’s position on the issue of its participation in the arms talks with understanding and respect.
Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe said at the end of November last year that the United States is taking the same aggressive military actions and containment tactics against China as against Russia.
“Facing insane US containment and pressure, China and Russia are tied together like a great mountain. Our friendship is indestructible, ”he stressed.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced at the end of December last year that the Russian Federation and the PRC are developing cooperation between the armed forces of the countries. In his opinion, the strategic relations between Russia and China help stabilize the situation in the world.
The last statement of the “nuclear five”
The day before, Russia, the United States, Britain, France and China issued a joint statement against the further proliferation of nuclear weapons.
“We declare that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and it should never be unleashed,” the statement said.
Countries stressed that nuclear weapons, as long as they exist, should only serve defensive purposes, “containing aggression and preventing war.” “We confirm <…> that our nuclear weapons are not aimed at each other or at any other state,” the statement said.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the statement was prepared on Russia’s initiative.
Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu pointed out that China has made a significant contribution to the statement of the “nuclear five.” In particular, Beijing initiated the inclusion of a clause on not targeting nuclear weapons at each other or at another state.