US stalls on extension of New Start treaty
seeking to gain control over China
By Finian Cunningham
August 21, 2020 "Information
Clearing House" - After three
rounds of talks with Russia wrapped up this
summer, the US is still equivocating on
extending the New START treaty limiting
long-range nuclear weapons, which will expire in
six months. A global arms race is looming.
When a third round of nuclear arms-control
talks concluded this week in Vienna, it was
clear that the American and Russian sides were
still at odds over commitments to renew the New
START treaty. The treaty, signed in 2010, limits
the number of strategic nuclear weapons deployed
by each side. However, if it expires in February
next year, as it is set to do, then there will
be no statutory limits on the build-up of
nuclear forces – for the first time in decades.
Potentially, the situation would resemble the
height of the Cold War when the US and the
Soviet Union engaged in a dangerous and
financially ruinous arms race.
said it is willing to extend New START
without preconditions for another five years.
But the US has made its continuation of the
conditional on China being included in a new
trilateral arms-control deal.
A new three-way arms-control treaty involving the
US, Russia and China would be dauntingly complex and
probably would take years to negotiate. Further
complicating the matter is Russia’s reasonable
contention that any such comprehensive treaty should
also include other nuclear powers, such as America’s
NATO allies Britain and France.
China has said it has no problem with disarmament
talks in principle, but that in the short-term the
onus is on Washington and Moscow to first show
commitment to the existing control arrangements
since both of those powers possess over 90 percent
of the world’s nuclear stockpile. China’s nuclear
reckoned to be a fraction (five percent) of
either the US’ or Russia’s.
It seems quite clear that the US is prevaricating over the New START treaty with the deliberate intention of risking a new global arms race. The unspoken purpose is to put pressure on Moscow and Beijing to come to the negotiating table as demanded by Washington for a trilateral deal – or face the grim prospect of nuclear escalation.
Instead of honoring its bilateral accord with
Russia, the US wants to use that as a convenient way
to extend control over China, which has emerged as
the major global rival to America’s presumed
Russia and China are refusing to cede to
Washington’s negotiating tactics. Moscow says it
wants to extend New START but “not at any price” –
meaning it will not bow to Washington’s demand for
China to be included in arms talks. For its part,
Beijing has also rebuffed US cajoling, and insists
that Washington must first fulfill its international
obligations for disarmament.
Lamentably, that means as things stand under the
Trump administration the New START treaty is doomed
to terminate in six months. In that event, the last
remaining pillar in the architecture of global arms
control will disappear. Recall that this caps a
protracted period of undermining global security at
Washington’s initiative. The US side did away with
the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty in 2002, the
Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty last
year, and the Open Skies Treaty earlier this year.
In a geopolitical climate of increasing tensions
whipped up primarily by the US towards Russia and
China, the last thing the world needs is the removal
of another major nuclear weapons agreement.
The Trump administration says it wants to
negotiate a comprehensive arms-control deal with
Russia and China. But it’s going about it in the
most counterproductive way. Such deals require a
bedrock of mutual trust. Everything about Trump’s
approach suggests bad faith and reckless incitement
of tensions as a negotiating ploy.
Perhaps Russia and China can avoid being sucked
into the vortex of an arms race with the US. Maybe
Trump won’t get elected in November and a Biden
administration might step in at the last moment and
extend New START.
In any case, one thing is sure. The United
States’ government at present is willing to unleash
a demonic global arms race, all for the sake of
satisfying its selfish strategic interests with
regard to controlling Russia and China. The
self-proclaimed “leader of the world” is
behaving like a psychopathic pyromaniac.
Finian Cunningham has written
extensively on international affairs, with articles
published in several languages. He is a Master’s
graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a
scientific editor for the Royal Society of
Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a
career in newspaper journalism. He is also a
musician and songwriter. For nearly 20 years, he
worked as an editor and writer in major news media
organisations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and