Thus, for the first time, the Trump administration has indicated that it is ready for a dialogue to replace the START III treaty, which limits Russia’s and American nuclear arsenals to long-range missiles. START III expires in February 2021.
Such an intention of the Trump administration became known against the background of Washington’s decision to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty, which was designed to reduce the likelihood of war between Russia and the West.
Marshal Billingsley, who last month took over as Trump’s senior ambassador for arms control, will begin talks with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. Both diplomats are currently working out the agenda for the meeting, which is likely to take place in Vienna.
The new US proposal looks much more ambitious than START III for the reason that it aims to involve China in the negotiations. According to US officials, such a comprehensive deal is needed, as China’s and Russia’s nuclear arsenals will only grow in the future.
However, critics of the agreement say such a deal could be an impossible task for Washington. At the same time, the failure of this front could lead to a stalemate in the negotiations, which in turn would undermine the current architecture of arms control treaties, which already has many cracks.
China, which has a much smaller nuclear arsenal than the United States and Russia, has repeatedly said it will not become a party to the tripartite nuclear deal.
Nevertheless, Billingsley told the Russian side that they should help Washington persuade Beijing to hold a dialogue on the issue. US officials say US plans to resort to diplomatic and possible economic incentives to put China on the negotiating table
“Not going to I blame my soul: it will not be easy. This is something new: the involvement of a third party in the control processe nuclear inweaponsen. “said a senior Trump administration official.
The US side suggests that the new agreement, unlike START III, will apply to all nuclear warheads, including even those stored in warehouses or mounted on short-range missiles.
Thus, the United States will be able to contain Russia’s arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons, which, according to US officials, continues to grow. At the same time, the same will apply to Chinese warheads, which according to some experts are stored mainly in warehouses. At the same time, the United States wants Russia to deliver on a promise made by Mikhail Gorbachev and get rid of nuclear warheads for short-range surface-to-air missiles.
However, experts say controlling the number of inactive warheads will be a much more difficult task than counting the large missiles, bombers and submarines that can carry nuclear weapons on board.
The Trump administration says it plans to propose more in-depth controls than START III. In particular, Washington is pushing for a wider exchange of telemetry data on missile tests, as well as for speeding up inspections of nuclear facilities.
At the same time, according to the US plan, the arsenals of Britain and France will not be taken into account under this agreement, even despite the fact that Russian officials do not agree.
Negotiations for such a major agreement, as The Wall Street Journal notes, are a long-term process, so the question arises as to how nuclear arsenals will be limited during the dialogue. START III may be extended by five years by mutual agreement of the parties. However, Trump officials have already hinted that the United States may not resort to this option if tripartite talks do not begin at all or if significant progress cannot be made.
The collapse of START III with the subsequent refusal of the parties to cross-check nuclear arsenals will deal a severe blow to the arms control system, despite the fact that last year the United States withdrew from the Treaty on the Elimination of Medium-Range and Short-Range Missiles (PCMO Agreement).
According to The Wall Street Journal, the main obstacle to concluding a new agreement is that it will be very difficult to involve China in the negotiation process.
According to available data, China has an arsenal of approximately 320 warheads, while 1,750 nuclear weapons are stationed in the United States in combat readiness. At the same time, Washington has 3,800 warheads in its warehouses. However, China’s nuclear weapons are projected to at least double in the next 10 years.
Retired Colonel-General Frank Klotz, former head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, said China’s inclusion in the new tripartite agreement was fraught with significant difficulties.
The fact is that Washington does not like to set the same limits on the number of Chinese, American and Russian warheads in the treaty, because it does not want China to match it in terms of its nuclear potential. At the same time, the Pentagon also does not want to reduce its potential to the level of China.
“Why should the Chinese agree to a tripartite agreement, such as be whereas they have significantly fewer warheads than the US? Klotz asks. And why Russia or the United States need an agreement that China will be able to there are as many warheads as they have they? “
Translation: M. Zhelyazkova
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