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US-Russia nuclear talks to continue in Vienna


US-Russia nuclear talks to continue in Vienna

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in 2019
Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty

A second round of nuclear talks between Washington and Moscow will be held today in Vienna. They are expected to focus on nuclear arsenal control as well as norms for military activity in space.

After making little headway at the previous meeting on June 22, representatives from the countries hope to reach an agreement on the renewal of the 2010 New Strategic Arms Treaty, which caps arsenals at 1,500 warheads but is set to expire in February. The US insists that the new treaty also cover China’s nuclear arsenal, which is projected to double in the coming decade even as Washington and Moscow scale back their stockpiles.

Analysts are warning of the potential for another Cold-War era arms race in light of China’s rapid military expansion and Russia’s recent alleged test of an anti-satellite weapon. With the state of space hegemony unclear in the medium-term, Chinese expansion is likely to drive a wedge in the almost 20-year period of bipolar stability between the US and Russia. The prospect of bringing China into stability talks is dim considering the trade war and other diplomatic disputes have soiled Sino-American relations. Until the US and Russia find inroads with expansionist China, expect the talks in Vienna to sour and defence budgets to swell in the medium-term.

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