Future arms restrictions should include China not just Russia - US | Eurasia Diary - ednews.net

13 July, Monday


Future arms restrictions should include China not just Russia - US

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The US administration has made it clear that not only Russia but also China should participate in any future arms limitation treaties.

According to Hal Brands, Bloomberg commentator, this is the right strategy in the light of new threats, but the United States will be difficult to implement and interest Beijing in such a deal.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo informed his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov that China must be involved in any arms control agreement between the US and Russia. Thus, the Trump administration is trying to make the tripartite format an integral part of the new generation of arms control agreements, Bloomberg columnist Hal Brands notes.

According to him, this is a sound approach, but it is not known whether Washington will have enough levers of pressure, in particular, on China, to bring it to life. He writes that although the previous agreements between Russia and the United States specified upper limits on the number of permissible weapons, Russia allegedly first began to violate their key provisions by modernizing its nuclear arsenals, and then began to deploy missiles prohibited by the INF.

“As a result, the United States remained the only country in the world that could not create ground-based missiles with a conventional or nuclear warhead with a range of 500 to 5500 kilometers,” the author of the article writes.

In addition, previous agreements did not take into account China’s growth, the observer notes. Beijing was not bound by such treaties and was building up arms, and Washington could not answer him. As a result, the American administration concluded that the existing arms control agreements do not correspond to the changing strategic situation and weaken the US position in relation to Beijing.

So Washington decided to withdraw from the INF Treaty and declare that further agreements should be trilateral. In addition, he returned to the nuclear weapons modernization program and the introduction of innovations that would strengthen the US’s deterrence ability. Thus, the United States is trying to get leverage in future negotiations. “The US needs to build up what it will cut back.”

As the author of the article notes, this has logic. “It makes no sense to constantly measure US arms control plans with Russia’s challenges when China is now its main rival,” the observer writes. According to him, although both Russia and China are building up their nuclear arsenals, not one of them wants strategic rivalry with the unrestrained States.

Hal Brands notes that the United States withdrawal from the INF Treaty did not aggravate Washington’s relations with the Allies, as many feared. On the contrary, some of them even expressed their readiness to deploy new missiles on their territory. The observer even talks about the “paradoxical logic” of arms control: the growing arms race leads to de-escalation on favorable terms.

However, the United States also face difficulties. First, China now has no interest in entering into any trilateral agreements. States can give Beijing an incentive if they deploy missiles in Asia and upgrade their arsenals. Now these plans are threatened by coronavirus, which can lead to a redistribution of budgets.

Secondly, the trilateral format carries risks: Moscow and Beijing may conspire against Washington, as it was with Russia and Iran in 2015. And in general, this is a complex format, the Trump administration is not so experienced.

Thirdly, if the US and Russia do not extend the START III treaty, it is not clear who will benefit from this. Russia is ready for the production of new weapons, but due to the oil crisis and previous stagnation, priorities may shift. The US also has difficulties with this: in the long run, the arms race is good for them, but in reality this process will gain momentum almost by the 2030s, observer Bloomberg notes.

This article origionally published in Bulgarian Military News.

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