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US And Russia Begin Nuclear Treaty Talks, China Refuses To Join

(Photo credit: Teh Eng Koon/AFP via Getty Images)

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The United States and Russia began talks Monday about extending the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), although China’s failure to participate in the nuclear treaty talks may hamper further negotiation.

Marshall Billingslea, the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control, and Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov agreed to host a two-day meeting at the Palais Niederoesterreich in Vienna.

Billingslea criticized China for not showing up in a tweet Monday, although he said the U.S. would continue talks with Russia.

Ryabkov said that Russia’s recent nuclear projects could potentially be placed under the provisions of the New START treaty, including its latest missile defense system, NBC News reported. However, Ryabkov told NBC News that he does not believe the U.S. will agree to extend the treaty, which was formed in 2011 and expires Feb. 5, 2021.

Earlier in 2020, the U.S. withdrew from the Open Skies treaty, an intelligence-sharing agreement that includes Russia. In 2019 the U.S. withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. In both cases, the U.S. cited Russia’s lack of compliance and frequent violations as the reason for withdrawal.

China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said June 11 at a press conference that China has no intention of participating in nuclear talks until the U.S. reduces its own nuclear stockpile. (RELATED: KAUFMAN: Missile Defense Is Freedom Insurance)

Billengslea tweeted early in June that China should reconsider its refusal to participate in trilateral negotiations. He accused the Chinese government of a lack of transparency regarding its nuclear weapons program, adding that a seat at the table was “waiting for China” at the Vienna meeting.

Kingston Reif, Director for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy at the Arms Control Association, suggested that the U.S. and Russia could extend the New START treaty and then pursue a trilateral approach later.