As China steps up nuclear arms race, US wants to talk


This seemed to be at the heart of Mr. Sullivan’s first concern: establishing lines of communication between the two armies, similar to the United States and Russia for decades. (He avoided the use of the word “nuclear” in his speech, a reflection of how space, cyber weapons and other advanced technologies need to be part of the conversation, say key Biden aides. .)

Much of the conversation on Capitol Hill so far has been about the quid pro quo for Chinese investment, rather than rethinking the nature of the arms race.

” I am very worried ” Rose Gottemoeller, an arms control official in several jurisdictions who now teaches at Stanford University, said in an interview. “What worries me is the automaticity of actions – more nuclear weapons and more missile defenses without thinking if there is a smarter way.”

Mr Xi and Mr Biden, US officials said, agreed to continue the conversations – but there was no commitment on the depth of them. When asked if the talks would include the subject of arms control, the National Security Council, in a statement, replied: “No. What we are looking for – and what Jake Sullivan spoke about – are conversations with “empowered people” about “safeguards to reduce risk or chance of miscalculation.”

The history of these conversations is not encouraging. For years, through multiple administrations, the United States has attempted to get Chinese officials to explain how they would secure nuclear weapons in North Korea if the nation collapsed. The effort was to avoid a collision between Chinese, South Korean and American forces seeking to find and secure loose weapons. The Chinese have always opposed, perhaps out of fear of being caught talking about the possibility of a collapse of the North.

It is possible, according to many arms control experts, that the Chinese build-up was motivated by the deployment of US missile defenses in the Pacific – from ground systems in California, Alaska, Guam and South Korea, and aboard ships patrolling off Japan and South Korea. Peninsula. The United States has always insisted that these systems are designed to deter North Korea. But the Chinese government has long been concerned that North Korea’s nuclear program provides a convenient excuse for the United States to build a system to contain Chinese nuclear weapons.

China and the United States have never engaged in a detailed discussion of missile defenses in the Pacific. But the hypersonic test may force the issue, independent experts say, as it’s clear Beijing’s ambitions are expanding.

About Dianne Stinson

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