A senior White House official said plans to reduce the US nuclear arsenal now depend on China, which has the ability to build up to 1,500 warheads over the next decade, and the strategy Beijing will adopt in this matter will affect not only America, but also Russia, Great Britain or France.
“We would be prepared to (…) participate in a disarmament regime after 2026, but a key variable will be the nature of our (information) exchanges with China between now and then,” said the official who preferred to remain anonymous , writes News.ro.
He said that, at the same time, the United States is not losing sight of Russia, which has suspended its participation in the New START nuclear disarmament treaty, the last such bilateral agreement that expires in 2026.
But when it comes to nuclear weapons, as in all its other diplomatic activities, the United States is primarily focused on China, which is rapidly developing its arsenal, the White House official said.
“The size of their arsenal, the nature of their force and other developments in their policy will have an impact on our own position in the future,” he stressed.
This will also have repercussions on the position of Russia, which will then have consequences on the position of France and Great Britain.
“Everything is very connected”, the official pointed out. He assured that the Biden administration, although it assumes rivalry with China, has nevertheless signaled to Beijing its “availability” and “interest” in discussions regarding nuclear weapons.
Relations between the two superpowers are very tense, despite the hopes of a “thaw” recently expressed by American President Joe Biden. China, for example, recently refused the US invitation to a meeting between the defense ministers of the two countries.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri), China currently has an arsenal of 350 nuclear warheads – far behind Russia (4,477) and the United States (3,708). But Beijing could have 1,500 warheads by 2035, estimated a US Defense Department report published in November.
The United States has become more attentive to the Chinese “threat” since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, an invasion that did not “distract” Washington from its growing rivalry with Beijing, the head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, said on Friday.
“Our support for Ukraine has not weakened our ability to respond to a potential threat from China or elsewhere, on the contrary, it has strengthened it,” he said in a speech in Helsinki.
These statements preceded a speech that the adviser on national security issues from the White House, Jake Sullivan, gave on Friday on the topic of nuclear disarmament.
Jake Sullivan largely confirmed what the White House official had previously explained. The United States seeks dialogue with Russia, but also with China regarding nuclear weapons, without preconditions, the national security adviser said in a speech in which he presented the US approach to reducing the risk of a nuclear conflict.
According to CNN, Sullivan also said that the US is working in parallel to modernize its nuclear force, but not to increase its arsenal.
Friday’s speech took place in the context in which the nuclear arms control architecture is facing serious threats. Sullivan warned that the world has reached an “inflection point” in terms of nuclear stability.
“We are entering a new era, one that requires new strategies and solutions to achieve the goals we have always had: to prevent an arms race, to reduce the risk of misperception and escalation, and most importantly to we ensure the safety and security of our people and people around the world in the face of nuclear threats,” Sullivan said.
Even as China increases its nuclear arsenal, Sullivan said the US should not engage in an arms race with Beijing.
“The United States does not need to increase its nuclear forces to exceed the combined total of our competitors in order to successfully deter them,” Sullivan said, adding that the U.S. will adhere to nuclear warhead limits agreed upon by the U.S. and Russia – ” as long as Russia will do it”.
However, Sullivan did not rule out the possibility that this assessment could change. “We believe that, in the current context, we have the number and type of capabilities that we need today. I can’t speak to every context and contingency in the future. But, in the current context, we believe we have what we need,” Sullivan said. .
Editor : D.R.