Negotiations between US and Russia over control of nuclear armament got another round in Vienna as part of talks aimed at producing a new agreement replacing the New START treaty. The pact which remained the last outpost for constraining the nuclear arsenals is out of date since February.
The day of discussions culminated in the establishment of several working groups to investigate the issue and create the prerequisites for a second round of talks by late July or early August.
“We both agreed at the termination of our talks that the strategic environment has changed significantly since the New START treaty was signed,” US negotiator Marshall Billingslea told reporters. “We can all remember back 10 years ago, the world is, in fact, a radically different place.”
Provisions of the New START treaty of 2010 regulates the number of U.S. and Russian long-range nuclear warheads and launchers and were of particular importance since the last year abolishment of the Soviet-times Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty with Russia which was breached by both parties. The treaty was not free from shortcomings as its provisions left out China and modern missile developments.
Proposed term for the New Start treaty is five years.
Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov who represented Russia in negotiations considers the establishment of working groups a great success. However, Trump considers the new project a failure of the Obama administration putting its extension in question.
As the US party expects, the future agreement shall cover not only strategic but all the scope of nuclear weapons and subject China to restrictions.
“Our ultimate decision, which is in the hands of the president, whether he decides to extend the New START treaty or allow it to run its course, is going to be very much driven by the extent to which we have made progress, not just with our Russian colleagues but with our Chinese counterparts,” he said.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg declared his commitment to include China in any future agreement or extend the New START in other case.
Nevertheless, still China refused to take part in current talks, though both US and Russian parties believes that is a matter of time and in future the international community would force Beijing to this step. Contrary to China, Britain and France, which are much smaller nuclear powers, are not expected to be involved.
US attempt to attract public attention to the event by tweeting a photo of the negotiating table with Chinese flags in front of vacant seats, saying “China is a no-show” met critics from Beijing.
“We urge the U.S. to stop this boring trick, actively respond to Russia’s call for the extension of the New START, and carry out serious discussions with the Russian side on this,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian .
Billingslea defended setting up the flags, saying “we configured the room for all three countries” in anticipation of China sending a delegation, then removed them to set up the room for bilateral talks.