Top US and Russian diplomats talks arms control amid concern over New START

arms talks us russia
Photo: US Military

High-ranking Russian and American diplomats will begin two days of arms control talks in Geneva today.

Last November the US announced that it would cease to observe the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and that it would fully pull out of the pact next month. Citing American intelligence, the US claims that Russia has tested missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers in violation of the accord.

Washington has also hinted that it may not renew New START—a treaty that significantly curtails strategic, offensive nuclear missile launchers between the two countries—when it expires in 2021.

START was first negotiated when the US and USSR monopolised the global strategic arms arsenal. Today, the question of China’s role in a new global arms race continues to be raised. For instance, while China only has about 2% of the world’s strategic weapons, that figure is expected to double over the coming decade.

US President Donald Trump has proposed that China join Russia and the US in any future arms agreement. However, Mr Trump will only exacerbate tensions between the US, Russia and China if Washington forcefully demands Beijing’s inclusion in future arms deals, indicated at the Osaka G20. Indeed, Beijing has already refused a future trilateral arms agreement. Mr Trump’s assertive approach could prevent progress on all fronts, irking Moscow, while further straining other US diplomatic efforts.

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